List of preference pages
The preferences dialog can be accessed from the Toolbox menu, as
It lets you customize many aspects of the way
GIMP works. The following sections detail the settings that you
can customize, and what they affect. This information applies
specifically to GIMP 2.2, but the settings for GIMP 2.0 are
similar enough that you should be able to understand them
based on the explanations here.
All of the Preferences information is stored in a file called
gimprc in your personal GIMP directory, so
if you are a “power user” who would rather work with a
text editor than a graphical interface, you can alter preferences by
editing that file. If you do, and you are on a Linux system,
then man gimprc will give you a lot of
technical information about the contents of the file and what
they are used for.
Figure 11.2. Environment Preferences
Minimal number of undo levels
GIMP allows you to undo most actions by maintaining an
for each image, for which a certain amount of memory is allocated.
Regardless of memory usage, however, GIMP always permits some
minimal number of the most recent actions to be undone: this is
the number specified here. See
Section 3, “
for more information about GIMP's Undo mechanism.
Maximum undo memory
This is the amount of undo memory allocated for each image. If the
Undo History size exceeds this, the oldest points are deleted,
unless this would result in fewer points being present than the
minimal number specified above.
Tile cache size
This is the amount of system RAM allocated for GIMP image
data. If GIMP requires more memory than this, it begins to
swap to disk, which may in some circumstances cause a
dramatic slowdown. You are given an opportunity to set this
number when you install GIMP, but you can alter it here. See
How to Set Your
Tile Cache for more information.
Maximum new image size
This is not a hard constraint: if you try to create a new image
larger than the specified size, you are asked to confirm that you
really want to do it. This is to prevent you from accidentally
creating images much larger than you intend, which can either
crash GIMP or cause it to respond verrrrrrrry slowwwwwwwwly.
Number of processors to use
Default is one. Your computer may have more than one processor.
Size of thumbnails
This options allows you to set the size of the thumbnails shown
in the File Open dialog (and also saved for possible use by
other programs). The options are “None”,
“Normal (128x128)”, and
Maximum filesize for thumbnailing
If an image file is larger than the specified maximum size, GIMP
will not generate a thumbnail for it. This options allows you to
prevent thumbnailing of extremely large image files from slowing
GIMP to a crawl.
Confirm closing of unsaved images
Closing an image is not undoable, so by default GIMP asks you to
confirm that you really want to do it, whenever it would lead to
a loss of unsaved changes. You can disable this if you find it
annoying; but then of course you are responsible for remembering
what you have and have not saved.
Keep record of used files in the Recent Documents list
When checked, files you have opened will be saved in the
Document history. You can access the list of files with the
dialog from the image menu or the toolbox menu:
→ → .
Figure 11.3. Assorted Interface Preferences
By default, GIMP shows miniature previews of the contents of
layers and channels in several places, including the Layers
dialog. If for some reason you would prefer to disable
these, you can do it by unchecking “Enable layer and
channel previews”. If you do want previews to be shown,
you can customize their sizes using the menus for “Default
layer and channel preview size” and “Navigation
Any menu item can be activated by holding down
Alt and pressing a sequence of keys.
Normally, the key associated with each menu entry is shown
as an underlined letter in the text, called
accelerator. If for some reason you
would prefer the underlines to go away (maybe because you
think they're ugly and you don't use them anyway), then you
can make this happen by unchecking “Show menu
GIMP can give you the ability to create keyboard shortcuts
(key combinations that activate a menu entry) dynamically,
by pressing the keys while the pointer hovers over the
desired menu entry. However, this capability is disabled by
default, because it might lead novice users to accidentally
overwrite the standard keyboard shortcuts. If you want to
enable it, check “Use dynamics keyboard shortcuts”
Pressing the button for “Configure Keyboard
Shortcuts” brings up the Shortcut Editor, which gives you
a graphical interface to select menu items and assign shortcuts
If you change shortcuts, you will probably want your changes
to continue to apply in future GIMP sessions. If not,
uncheck “Save keyboard shortcuts on exit”. But
remember that you have done this, or you may be frustrated
later. If you don't want to save shortcuts on exit every
session, you can save the current settings at any time using the
“Save Keyboard Shortcuts Now” button, and they will
be applied to future sessions. If you decide that you have made
some bad decisions concerning shortcuts, you can reset them to
their original state by pressing “Reset Saved Keyboard
Shortcuts to Default Values”.
Figure 11.4. Theme Preference
This page lets you select a theme, which determines many aspects of
the appearance of the GIMP user interface, including the set of
icons used, their sizes, fonts, spacing allowed in dialogs, etc.
Two themes are supplied with GIMP: Default,
which is probably best for most people, and
Small, which may be preferable for those with
small or low-resolution monitors. Clicking on a theme in the list
causes it to be applied immediately, so it is easy to see the result
and change your mind if you don't like it.
You can also use custom themes, either by downloading them from the
net, or by copying one of the supplied themes and modifying it.
Custom themes should be places in the
subdirectory of your personal GIMP directory: if they are, they
will appear in the list here. Each theme is actually a directory
containing ASCII files that you can edit. They are pretty
complicated, and the meaning of the contents goes beyond the scope
of this documentation, but you should feel free to experiment: in
the worst case, if you mess things up completely, you can always
revert back to one of the supplied themes.
You cannot edit the supplied themes unless you have administrator
permissions, and even if you do, you shouldn't: if you want to
customize a theme, make a copy in your personal directory and work
on it. If you make a change and would like to see the result "on
the fly", you can do so by saving the edited theme file and then
pressing Reload Current Theme.
Figure 11.5. Help System Preferences (Linux Screenshot)
Show tool tips
Tool tips are small help pop-ups that appear when the pointer
hovers for a moment over some element of the interface, such as a
button or icon. Sometimes they explain what the element does;
sometimes they give you hints about non-obvious ways to use it. If
you find them too distracting, you can disable them here by
unchecking this option. We recommend that you leave them enabled
unless you are a very advanced user.
Show help buttons
This option controls whether the help buttons are shown
on every tool dialog, which may be used alternatively to
invoke the help system.
This drop-down list lets you select between
Use a locally installed copy and
Use the online version. See
Section 12.2, “Help”.
Help browser to use
GIMP Help is supplied in the form of HTML files, i. e., web pages.
You can view them using either a special help browser that comes
with GIMP, or a web browser of your choice. Here you choose which
option to use. Because the help pages were carefully checked to
make sure they work well with GIMP's browser, whereas other web
browsers are somewhat variable in their support of features, the
safer option is to use the internal browser; but really any modern
web browser should be okay.
Note that the help browser is not available on all platforms. If
it is missing, the web-browser will be used to allow access to
the help pages.
Web browser to use
If you selected “GIMP help browser” for the Help
browser, this option has no effect. If you selected “Web
browser”, you must decide here which browser to
use, and how to invoke it, by entering the command that will be used
to run the browser.
Figure 11.6. Tool Options Preferences
Save Tool Options On Exit
Save Tool Options Now
Reset Saved Tool Options To Default Values
Guide and Grid Snapping
“Snapping” to guides, or to an image grid, means
that when a tool is applied by clicking somewhere on the image
display, if the clicked point is near enough to a guide or grid,
it is shifted exactly onto the guide or grid. Snapping to
guides can be toggled using
in the image menu; and if the grid is switched on, snapping
to it can be toggled using
This preference option determines how close a
clicked point must be to a guide or grid in order to be
snapped onto it, in pixels.
When you scale something, each pixel in the result is calculated
by interpolating several pixels in the source. This option
determines the default interpolation method: it can always be
changed, though, in the Tool Options dialog. There are three
None is fastest, but quite crude: you should
only consider using it if your machine is very seriously
Linear is the default, and is good
enough for most purposes.
Cubic is the best (although
it can actually look worse than Linear for some types of
images), but also the slowest.
Paint Options Shared Between Tools
Brush, Pattern, Gradient
You can decide here whether changing the brush etc for one tool
should cause the new item to be used for all tools, or whether
each individual tool (pencil, paintbrush, airbrush, etc) should
remember the item that was last used for it specifically.
Change current layer or path
You can decide here whether changing the current layer or path
when using the move tool and without pressing any key.
Figure 11.7. Toolbox Preferences
Figure 11.8. Default Toolbox appearance
This page lets you customize the appearance of the Toolbox, by deciding
whether the three "context information" areas should be shown at the
Show foreground and background color
Controls whether the color area on the left (3) appears in the
Show active brush, pattern, and gradient
Controls whether the area in the center (4), with the brush,
pattern, and gradient icons, appears in the
Show active image
Controls whether a preview of the currently active image
appears on the right (5).
1.8. Default Image Preferences
Figure 11.9. Default New Image Preferences
This tab lets you customize the default settings for the New Image
dialog. See the
New Image Dialog section
for an explanation of what each of the values means.
Default Grid Preferences
This page lets you customize the default properties of GIMP's grid,
which can be toggled on or off using
dialog section for information on the meaning of each of
from the image menu. The settings here match those in the
Configure Image Grid dialog, which can be used to reconfigure the
grid for an existing image, by choosing
from the image menu. See the
Figure 11.11. General Image Window Preference
Use “Dot for dot” by default
Using “Dot for dot” means that at 1:1 zoom, each
pixel is the image is scaled to one pixel on the display. If
“Dot for dot” is not used, then the displayed image
size is determined by the X and Y resolution of the image. See the
Scale Image section for
Marching ants speed
When you create a selection, the edge of it is shown as a dashed
line with dashes that appear to move, marching slowly along the
boundary: they are jokingly called "marching ants". The smaller the
value entered here, the faster the ants march (and consequently the
more distracting they are!).
Zoom and Resize Behavior
Resize window on zoom
If this option is checked, then each time you zoom the image, the
image window will automatically resize to follow it. Otherwise,
the image window will maintain the same size when you zoom the
Resize window on image size change
If this option is checked, then each time change the size of the
image, by cropping or resizing it, the image window will
automatically resize to follow. Otherwise, the image window will
maintain the same size.
Initial zoom ratio
You can choose either to have images, when they are first opened,
scaled so that the whole image fits comfortably on your display,
or else shown at 1:1 zoom. If you choose the second option, and
the image is too large to fit on your display, then the image
window will show only part of it (but you will be able to scroll
to other parts).
While space bar is pressed
Pan view (default) or
Toogle to Move Tool
Show brush outline
If this option is checked, then when you use a paint tool, the
outline of the brush will be shown on the image as you move the
pointer around. On slow systems, if the brush is very large, this
could occasionally cause some lag in GIMP's ability to follow your
movements: if so, switching this off might help. Otherwise, you
will probably find it quite useful.
Show paint tool cursor
If this is checked, a cursor will be shown. This is in addition to
the brush outline, if the brush outline is being shown. The type
of cursor is determined by the next option.
This option has no effect unless Show paint tool
cursor is checked. If it is, you have three choices:
Tool icon, which causes a small iconic
representation of the currently active tool to be shown beside
the cursor; Tool icon with crosshair, which
shows the icon as well as a crosshair indicating the center of
the cursor; or Crosshair only.
If you choose “Fancy” here, the cursor is drawn in
grayscale. If you choose “Black and White”, it is
drawn in a simpler way that may speed things up a little bit if
you have speed issues.
Image Window Appearance
Image Window Appearance Defaults
The only parts that may need further explanation are the ones related to
is the color shown around the edges of the image, if it does not occupy
all of the display area (shown in light gray in all the figures here). You
can choose among four colors for the padding color: to use the color
specified by the current theme; to use the light or dark colors specified
for checks, such as represent transparent parts of the image; or to use a
custom color, which can be set using the color button for
“Custom padding color”.
1.12. Image Window Title and Statusbar
Figure 11.13. Image Window Title and Statusbar formats
1.12.1. Choosing a Format
You can choose among several predesigned formats, or you can
create one of your own, by writing a format
string in the entry area. Here is how to understand
a format string: anything you type is shown exactly as you type
it, with the exception of variables, whose
names all begin with "%". Here is a list of the variables you
||Bare filename of the image, or "Untitled"
||Full path to file, or "Untitled"
||Image id number (this is unique)
View number, if an image has more than one display
||Image type (RGB, grayscale, indexed)
||Zoom factor as a percentage
||Source scale factor (zoom level = %d/%s)
||Destination scale factor (zoom level = %d/%s)
Expands to x if the image is dirty, nothing otherwise
Expands to x if the image is clean, nothing otherwise
||The number of layers
||Number of layers (long form)
||Memory used by the image
||Name of the active layer/channel
||id of the active layer/channel
||Image width in pixels
||Image width in real-world units
||Image height in pixels
||Image height in real-world units
||Unit symbol (eg. px for Pixel)
||A literal "%" symbol
Figure 11.14. Display Preferences
By default, GIMP indicates transparency using a checkerboard
pattern with mid-tone checks, but you can change this if you want,
either to a different type of checkerboard, or to solid black,
white, or gray.
Here you can alter the size of the squares in the checkerboard
pattern used to indicate transparency.
Figure 11.15. The Calibration dialog
Monitor Resolution is the ratio of pixels, horizontally and
vertically, to inches. You have three ways to proceed here:
The Calibrate Dialog
My monitor was impressively off when I tried the Calibrate Dialog.
The "Calibrate Game" is fun to play. You will need a soft ruler.
Figure 11.16. Color Management Preferences
This page lets you customize the GIMP color management.
Some of the options let you choose a color profile from a menu. If the
desired profile is not in the menu yet, you can add it by clicking on
Files containing color profiles are easily recognizable by their
.icc suffix. In addition to that they are
usually stored all together in only a few places. If you are running
GIMP on Mac OS X, you should try
Mode of operation
Using this option you can decide how the GIMP color management
operates. There are three modes you can choose from:
: choosing this
selection shuts down the color management in GIMP completely.
: with this
selection you can enable the GIMP color management to
provide a fully corrected display of the images according to
the given color profile for the display.
: when choosing
this selection, you enable the GIMP color management not only
to apply the profile for the display, but also the selected
printer simulation profile. Doing so, you can preview the
color results of a print with that printer.
Please note, that the GIMP color management is used to
enhance the display of images and the embedding of profiles
to image files only. Especially are the options you choose
in this dialog in no way used for printing from within GIMP.
This is because the printing is a special task done by a
more specialized printing engine that is no part of GIMP.
This option gives you two elements for interaction:
You should select a display profile for this option. The
selected color profile is used to display GIMP on the screen.
If you activate the Try to use the system monitor
profile option, GIMP will use the color profile
provided for the displays by the operating systems color
Display rendering intent
Rendering intents, as the one you can configure with this option,
are ways of dealing with colors that are
present in the source space that the destination space is
incapable of producing. There are four method rendering intents to
A description of the individual methods can be found at
Print simulation mode
You should select a printer profile for this option. The selected
color profile is used for the print simulation mode.
Softproof rendering intent
This option again provides two different elements for interaction:
You can use the menu to select the rendering intent for the
soft proof. They are the same as already described for the
display rendering intent.
If you enable the Mark out of gamut
colors option, all pixels that have a color that
is not printable are marked by a special color. Which color is
used for this can also be chosen by you. You can do this
simply by clicking on the color icon on the right besides the
File Open behaviour
Using this menu you can determine how GIMP behaves when opening a
file that contains an embedded color profile that is not matches
the workspace sRGB. You can choose from the following entries:
: if selected, GIMP
will ask every time what to do.
: if you
choose this, GIMP will keep the attached profile and not
convert the image to the workspace. The image is displayed
correctly anyways, because the attached profile will be
applied for display.
choosing this entry GIMP will automatically use the attached
color profile to convert the image to the workspace.
For more explanations:
Many profiles to load from the web:
ICC sRGB Workspace:
Microsoft sRGB Workspace:
Adobe RGB98 Workspace :
Adobe RGB (1998)™
ECI (European Color Initiative) Profiles:
Figure 11.17. Input devices preferences
Extended Input Devices
Configure Extended Input Devices
This large button allows you to set the devices associated with your
computer: tablet, MIDI keyboard... If you have a tablet, you will
see a dialog like this:
Figure 11.18. Preferences for a tablet
Save input device settings on exit
When you check this box, GIMP remembers the tool, color, pattern and
brush you were using the last time you quitted.
Save Input Device Settings Now
Reset Saved Input Device Settings to Default Values
Delete your settings and restore default settings.
Figure 11.19. Input controllers preferences
This dialog has two lists of additional input controllers:
Available Controllers on the left,
Active Controllers on the right.
A click on an item will highlight it and you can move the controller from
one list to the other by clicking on the respective arrow key. When you
try to move a controller from the list of active controllers to the
available controllers, a dialog pops up and you will have the choice of
removing the controller or just disabling it.
When you double click on a (typically active) controller or alternatively
click on the Edit button at the bottom of the list, you can configure this
controller in a dialog window:
Main Mouse Wheel
Figure 11.20. Main Mouse Wheel
Dump events from this controller
This option must be checked if you want a print on the stdout
of the events generated by the enabled controllers. If you
want to see those event you should start
GIMP from a terminal or making it to print
the stdout to file by the shell redirection. The main use of
this option is for debug.
Enable this controller
This option must be checked if you want to add a new actions
to the mouse wheel.
Mouse Wheel Events
In this window with scroll bars you have: on the left, the
possible events concerning the mouse wheel, more or less
associated with control keys; on the right, the action assigned
to the event when it will happen. You have also two buttons, one
the selected event, the other to
the action of the selected event.
Some actions are assigned to events yet. They seem to be examples,
as they are not functional.
Select the action allocated to the event
After selecting an event, if you click on the
button, you open the following dialog:
Figure 11.21. Select Controller Event Action
If an action exists yet for this event, the window will open on this
action. Else, the window will display the sections that order
actions. Click on an action to select it.
You can use this dialog in the same way as that of the mouse wheel.
Events are related to the arrow keys of the keyboard, combined
or not with control keys.
Figure 11.22. Main Keyboard
Figure 11.23. Window Management Preferences
This page lets you customize the way windows are handled in GIMP. You
should note that GIMP does not manipulate windows directly, instead it
sends requests to the window manager (i. e., to Windows if you are running
in Windows; to Metacity if you are running in a standard Gnome setup in
Linux; etc). Because there are many window managers, and not all of them
are well behaved, it cannot be guaranteed that the functions described
here will actually work as described. However, if you are using a modern,
standards-compliant window manager, they ought to.
Window Manager Hints
Window type hints for the toolbox and the docks
The choices you make here determine how the Toolbox, and the docks
that hold dialogs, will be treated. If you choose "Normal Window",
they will be treated like any other windows. If you choose
"Utility Window", they will be raised into visibility whenever you
activate an image window, and kept in front of every image window.
If you choose "Keep above", they will be kept in front of every
other window at all times. Note that changes you make here will
not take effect until the next time you start GIMP.
Activate the focused image
Normally, when you focus an image window (usually indicated by a
change in the color of the frame), it becomes the "active image"
for GIMP, and therefore the target for any image-related actions
you perform. Some people, though, prefer to set up their window
managers such that any window entered by the pointer is
automatically focused. If you do this, you may find that it is
inconvenient for focused images to automatically become active,
and may be happier if you uncheck this option.
Save window positions on exit
If this option is checked, the next time you start GIMP,
you will see the same set of dialog windows, in the same
positions they occupied when you last exited.
Save Window Positions Now
This button is only useful if "Save window positions on exit" is
unchecked. It allows you to set up your windows they way you like,
click the button, and then have them come up in that arrangement
each time you start GIMP.
Reset Saved Window Positions to Default Values
If you decide that you are unhappy with the arrangement of windows
you have saved, and would rather go back to the default
arrangement than spend time moving them around, you can do so by
pressing this button.
Figure 11.24. Basic Folder Preferences
This page allows you to set the locations for two important folders used
by GIMP for temporary files. The pages below it allow you to customize the
locations searched for resources such as brushes etc.; see
for a description that applies to them. You can change the folders here by
editing the entries, or by pressing the buttons on the right to bring up a
file chooser window.
This folder is used for temporary files: files created for temporary
storage of working data, and then deleted within the same GIMP
session. It does not require a lot of space or high performance. By
default, a subdirectory called
in your personal GIMP directory is used, but if that disk is very
cramped for space, or has serious performance issues, you can change
it to a different directory. The directory must exist and be
writable by you, or bad things will happen.
This is the folder used as a "memory bank" when the total size of
images and data open in GIMP exceeds the available RAM. If you work
with very large images, or images with many layers, or have many
images open at once, GIMP can potentially require hundreds of
megabytes of swap space, so available disk space and performance are
definitely things to think about for this folder. By default, it is
set to your personal GIMP directory, but if you have another disk
with more free space, or substantially better performance, you may
see a significant benefit from moving your swap folder there. The
directory must exist and be writable by you.
Figure 11.25. Preferences: Brush Folders
GIMP uses several types of resources – such as brushes, patterns,
gradients, etc. – for which a basic set are supplied by GIMP when it is
installed, and others can be created or downloaded by the user. For each
such resource type, there is a Preference page that allows you to specify
the search path:
the set of directories from which items of the type in question are
automatically loaded when GIMP starts. These pages all look very much the
same: the page for brushes is shown to the right as an example.
By default, the search path includes two folders: a
system folder, where items installed along
with GIMP are placed, and a personal folder,
inside your personal GIMP directory, where items added by you
should be placed. The system folder should not be marked as
writable, and you should not try to alter its contents. The
personal folder must be marked as writable or it is useless,
because there is nothing inside it except what you put there.
You can customize the search path with the buttons at the top of
Select a Folder
If you click on one of the folders in the list, it is selected for
whatever action comes next.
If you type the name of a folder in the entry space, or navigate to
it using the file chooser button on the right, and then click the
left button, this will replace the selected folder with the one you
have specified. If nothing in the list is selected, the folder you
specify will be added to the list. If the light-symbol to the left
of the text entry area is red instead of green, it means that the
folder you have specified does not exist. GIMP will not create it
for you, so you should do this immediately.
If you click on the up-arrow or down-arrow buttons, the selected
folder will be changed to the following or preceding one in the
list. Since the folders are read in order, using those buttons
change the loading precedence of the items located in those folders.
If you click the trash-can button, the selected folder will be
deleted from the list. (The folder itself is not affected; it is
merely removed from the search path.) Deleting the system folder is
probably a bad idea, but nothing prevents you from doing it.