When I create a
.gif file in Photoshop, it works and animates. However, when I export it to a desktop it saves separate frames as GIFs. How do I bundle it so I can save it as one animated loop file in Photoshop?
To keep your animations and optimize your gif, you should use the "save for web" and you can find it in the export options, or use the shortcut Control + Alt (or Option) + Shift + Save.
To verify your animation and set the loops, look at the bottom right part of the "save for web" window, you will see a section named "animation".
You can set it to loop once, forever or a specific number of time. There's a play button and other controls that will let you preview your animation.
To have access to this menu, don't forget to select "gif" as file format on the top right!