provides a comprehensive toolbox in order to quickly perform basic tasks
such as making selections or drawing paths. The many tools contained
within The GIMP's toolbox are discussed in detail here.
(In case you're curious, in GIMP lingo a "tool" is a way of acting on an
image that requires access to its display, either to let you indicate what
you want to do by moving the pointer around inside the display, or to show
you interactively the results of changes that you have made. But if you
want to think of a tool as a saw, and an image as a piece of wood, it
probably won't do you a great deal of harm.)
GIMP has a diverse assortment of tools that let you perform a large
variety of tasks. The tools can be thought of as falling into five
categories: Selection tools,
which specify or modify the portion of the image that will be affected
by subsequent actions; Paint tools,
which alter the colors in some part of the image;
Transform tools, which alter the geometry of the
image; Color tools, which alter the distribution of
colors across the entire image; and Other tools,
which don't fall into the other four categories.
Most tools can be activated by clicking on an icon in the Toolbox.
Some, however (namely, the Color tools), are accessible only via
the menus, either as
Every tool, in fact, can be activated from the Tools
menu; also, every tool can be activated from the keyboard using an
In the default setup, created when GIMP is first installed, not all tools
show icons in the Toolbox: the Color tools are omitted. You can customize
the set of tools that are shown in the Toolbox using the
There are two reasons you might want to do this: first, if you only
rarely use a tool, it might be easier to find the tools you want if the
distracting icon is removed; second, if you use the Color tools a lot, you
might find it convenient to have icons for them easily available. In any
case, regardless of the Toolbox, you can always access any tool at any
time using the menu from an image menubar.
The shape of the cursor changes when it is inside an image, to one that
indicates which tool is active (if in you have
→ → → ).
Figure 13.1. Tool Options dialog for the Rectangle Select tool
If you have things set up like most people do, activating a tool causes
its Tool Options dialog to appear below the Toolbox. If you don't have
things set up this way, you probably should: it is very difficult to use
tools effectively without being able to manipulate their options.
The Tool Options appear beneath the Toolbox in the default
setup. If you lose it somehow, you can get it back by creating
a new Tool Options dialog using
and then docking it below the Toolbox. See the section on
Dialogs and Docking if you
Each tool has its own specific set of options. The choices you make for
them are kept throughout the session, until you change them. In fact,
the tool options are maintained from session to session. The persistance
of tool options across sessions can sometimes be an annoying nuisance: a
tool behaves very strangely, and you can't figure out why until you
remember that you were using some unusual option the last time you
worked with it, two weeks ago.
At the bottom of the Tool Options dialog appear four buttons:
Save Options to
This button allows you to save the settings for the current tool,
so that you can restore them later. It brings up a small dialog
allowing you to give a name to the array of saved options. When
you Restore options, only saved sets for the active tool are
shown, so you need not worry about including the name of the tool
when you assign a name here.
This button allows you to restore a previously saved set of
options for the active tool. If no option-sets have ever been
saved for the active tool, the button will be insensitive.
Otherwise, clicking it will bring up a menu showing the names of
all saved option sets: choosing a menu entry will apply those
This button allows you to delete a previously saved set of options
for the active tool. If no option-sets have ever been saved for
the active tool, the button will be insensitive. Otherwise,
clicking it will bring up a menu showing the names of all saved
option sets: choosing a menu entry will delete those settings.
This button resets the options for the active tool to their