A palette is a set of discrete colors, in no
particular order. See the Palettes section for basic
information on palettes and how they can be created and used.
The Palettes dialog is used to select a palette, by clicking on it in a
list or grid view. A few dozen more or less randomly chosen palettes are
supplied with GIMP, and you can easily add new palettes of your own. The
Palettes dialog also give you access to several operations for creating
new palettes or manipulating the ones that already exist.
The Palettes dialog is not the same thing as the
Index Palette dialog,
which is used to manipulate the colormaps of indexed images.
The Palettes dialog is a dockable dialog; see the section on Dialogs and Docking for help on
manipulating it. It can be activated in several ways:
From the Toolbox menu:
From an image menu:
From the Tab menu in any dockable dialog:
Using the Palettes dialog
Clicking on a palette in the dialog makes it GIMP's active palette. This
does not really have any significance, though. Double-clicking on a
palette brings up the
which allows you to set GIMP's foreground or background colors by
clicking on colors in the palette display.
Double-clicking on a palette name
(in List View mode) lets you to edit the name. Note that you are only
allowed to change the names of palettes that you have added yourself,
not those that are supplied with GIMP. If you edit a name that you are
not allowed to change, it will revert back to its previous value as soon
as you hit return or move the pointer focus elsewhere.
The Palettes dialog
In the Tab menu, you can choose between
View as Grid
and View as List.
In Grid mode, the palettes are laid out in a spectacular
rectangular array, making it easy to see many at once and find the
one you are looking for. In List mode (the default), the palettes
are lined up in a list, with the names beside them.
In the Tab menu, the option Preview Size
allows you to adapt the size of color cell previews to your
The Palettes Menu can be accessed by right-clicking in the Palettes
dialog, or by choosing the top item from the dialog Tab menu.
“Edit Palette” is an alternative way of activating the
it can also be activated by double-clicking on a palette in the
Palettes dialog, or by pressing the "Edit Palette" button at the
bottom of the dialog.
“New Palette” creates a new, untitled palette,
initially containing no color entries, and pops up the Palette
Editor so that you can add colors to the palette. The result
will automatically be saved in your personal
palettes folder when you quit GIMP, so it
will be available from the Palettes dialog in future sessions.
The Import Palette dialog
allows you to create a new palette from the colors in a gradient,
an image or a palette file. Choosing it brings up the "Import
Palette" dialog, which gives you the following options:
You can import a palette either from any of GIMP's gradients
(choosing one from the adjoining menu), or from any of the
currently open images (chosen from the adjoining menu). In
GIMP 2.2, you can also import a RIFF palette file (with
extension .pal), of the type used by
several Microsoft Windows applications.
You can give a name to the new palette here. If the name you
choose is already used by an existing palette, a unique name
will be formed by appending a number (e. g., "#1").
Number of colors
Here you specify the number of colors in the palette. The
default is 256, chosen for three reasons: (1) every gradient
contains 256 distinct colors; (2) GIF files can use a
maximum of 256 colors; (3) GIMP indexed images can contain a
maximum of 256 distinct colors. You can use any number you
like here, though: GIMP will try to create a palette by
spacing the specified number of colors even across the color
range of the gradient or image.
Here you specify the number of columns for the palette. This
only affects the way the palette is displayed, and has no
effect on the way the palette is used.
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The imported palette will be added to the Palettes dialog, and
automatically saved in your personal
folder when you quit GIMP, so it will be available in future
Duplicate Palette creates a new palette by copying the palette
that is currently selected, and brings up a Palette Editor so that
you can alter the palette. The result will automatically be saved
in your personal palettes
folder when you quit GIMP, so it will be available from the
Palettes dialog in future sessions.
Currently this operation is not implemented, and the menu entry
will always be insensitive.
Delete Palette removes the palette from the Palettes dialog, and
deletes the disk file in which it is stored. Before it acts, it
asks you confirm that you really want to do these things. Note
that you cannot remove any of the palettes that are supplied with
GIMP, only palettes you have added yourself.
Refresh Palettes rescans all of the folders in your palette search
path, and adds any newly discovered palettes to the list in the
Palettes dialog. This may be useful if you obtain palette files
from some external source, copy them into one of your palettes
folders, and want to make them available during the current
The Palette Editor
The Palette Editor is used mainly for two purposes: first, for setting
GIMP's foreground or background colors (as shown in the Color Area of
the Toolbox) to selected colors from the palette; second, for modifying
the palette. You can activate the Palette Editor for any palette in the
Palettes dialog, but you can only modify palettes that you have created
yourself, not the palettes that are supplied when you install GIMP. (You
can, however, duplicate any palette and then edit the newly created
copy.) If you modify a palette, the results of your work will
automatically be saved when you exit from GIMP.
How to Activate the Palette Editor
The Palette Editor is only accessible from the Palettes dialog: you
can activate it by double-clicking on a palette, or by pressing the
"Edit Palette" button at the bottom, or by choosing "Edit Palette"
from the Palettes Menu.
The Palette Editor is a dockable dialog; see the section on
Dialogs and Docking
for help on manipulating it.
Using the Palette Editor
If you click on a color box in the palette display, GIMP's foreground
color will be set to the selected color: you can see this in the Color
Area of the Toolbox. If you hold down the Ctrl
key while clicking, GIMP's background color will be set to the
Double-clicking on a color not only sets the foreground, it also
brings up a color editor that allows you to modify the selected
palette entry. (This only happens if the palette is one you are
allowed to modify: that is, one you have added to GIMP yourself.)
Right-clicking in the palette display area brings up the Palette
Editor menu. It's functions are mainly the same as those of the
buttons at the bottom of the dialog.
Below the palette display area, at the left, appears a text entry area
that shows the name of the selected color (or "Untitled" if it does not
have one). This information has no functional significance, and is
present only to serve you as a memory aid.
To the right of the name entry is a spinbutton that allows you to set
the number of columns used to display the palette. This only affects
the display, not how the palette works. If the value is set to 0, a
default will be used.
At the bottom of the dialog are a set of buttons, which mostly match
the entries in the Palette Editor menu, accessible by right-clicking
in the palette display area. Here are the buttons:
This button causes the palette to be saved in your personal
palettes folder. It would be saved
automatically when GIMP exits in any case, but you might want
to use this button if you are concerned that GIMP might crash
in the meantime.
This operation has not yet been implemented.
Pops up a color editor allowing you to alter the color. If
the palette is one you aren't allowed to alter, this button
will be insensitive.
New Color from FG
Adds a new entry to the palette, with color taken from GIMP's
foreground color, as shown in the Color Area of the Toolbox. If
you hold down the Ctrl
key when pressing this button, the new color will be taken from
GIMP's background instead. If the palette is one you aren't
allowed to alter, this button will be insensitive.
Removes the selected color entry from the palette. If the
palette is one you aren't allowed to alter, this button will be
Shrinks the palette display vertically.
Expands the palette display vertically.
Fits the vertical scale of the palette display to the size of
the display area.
Palette Editor Menu
The Palette Editor Menu
The Palette Editor Menu can be accessed by right-clicking on the palette
display in the Palette Editor, or by choosing the top entry from the
dialog Tab menu. The operations in it can also be executed using the
buttons at the bottom of the Palette Editor dialog.
"Edit Color" brings up a color editor that allows you to modify
the color of the selected palette entry. If the palette is one
that you are not allowed to edit (that is, one supplied by GIMP
when it is installed), then the menu entry will be insensitive.
New Color from FG; New Color from BG
These commands each create a new palette entry, using either
GIMP's current foreground color (as shown in the Color Area of the
Toolbox), or the current background color.
"Delete Color" removes the selected color entry from the palette.
If the palette is one that you are not allowed to edit, then the
menu entry will be insensitive.
"Zoom Out" reduces the vertical scale of the entries in the
"Zoom In" increases the vertical scale of the entries in the
"Zoom All" adjusts the vertical size of the entries in the palette
display so that the entire palette fits into the display area.