Outlook doesn't display animated gif's (only the first frame displays), form fields or any active content in email, all thanks to numerous viruses that spread like wildfire through Outlook, so the powers that be locked Outlook down: no active content will display in email.
Outlook's printing capability is also limited and you'll have more print options (such as print selected text) if you use View in Browser.
If you don't need to see animated gif's, use form fields, or print a selection from the message, Outlook renders HTML formatting very well, but it may not always be "perfect" and a browser will do a better job.
When you send an animated gif, you'll only see the first frame, but the recipient will see the animation if they use an email client that can display animation.
You could save the message as HTML and open the HTML is a browser, but this is not necessary (and too much effort!) since as you can open messages in a browser directly from Outlook.
To view an HTML message in a web browser, you need to open the message! The View in Browser command is not available in the Reading Pane.
Outlook 2007 and newer
- Open the message.
- Click the Other Actions button on the Actions group.
- From the flyout menu, choose View in Browser (its near the bottom)
Use View in Browser to view any HTML message that does not display correctly in Outlook or when you want to print a message and have better options than Outlook’s print option offers.
Outlook 2003 and older
Older versions don't have a View in Browser command but they do have a View in Internet Zone command. This allows you to view an HTML message in the less secure Internet Zone. This allows you to view active content in email.
You'll find this command on the View menu of an opened message.
Outlook 2007, 2010, 2013 inability to animate gif's is because it uses Word as the rendering engine and Word does not support animation. Word's lack of support for animated gif's is for security & licensing reasons. (Plus, printed documents don't display animation.)
Published March 27, 2012. Last updated on December 3, 2015.