Frequently Asked Questions

General questions

Is there a company or a foundation behind GIMP?

No. We are a diverse group of volunteers from around the world who work on this project in their spare time. Code-wise most of project contributions come from Europe where the current GIMP maintainers live. Our translators are an even more diverse group of contributors, since GIMP is available in 80 languages/locales.

Can I use GIMP commercially?

Yes, you can. GIMP is free software, it doesn’t put restrictions on the kind of work you produce with it.

What’s the GIMP’s license, and how do I comply with it?

GIMP is distributed under terms of General Public License v3 and later. In a nutshell, this means:

  • You are free to use GIMP, for any purpose
  • You are free to distribute GIMP
  • You can study how GIMP works and change it
  • You can distribute changed versions of GIMP

Note that once you distribute modified version of GIMP, you also must publish your changes to the source code under GPLv3+ as well.

Yes, under terms of the General Public License this is perfectly legal, provided that the seller also gave you the source code of GIMP and any modifications he/she introduced. Please see this page for more information.

Are you trying to develop a Photoshop killer app?

No. Most generic image editors look like Photoshop simply because Adobe’s application was among the first image editors as we know them now, so developers tend to stick to what people know — in general terms.

What we aim to do is to create a high-end image manipulation application that is free to use and modify by everyone, ever.

Feature-wise, the proposed “high-end” status does automatically put GIMP into direct comparison against Photoshop, but we don’t think about competition much. We have too many ideas of our own to implement, and too many things to improve before the notion of competition begins to make the slightest sense.

We do, however, acknowledge the fact that people will treat GIMP as Photoshop replacement no matter what we tell them, and that’s all right with us. You own this software, it’s up to you to decide how you make use of it.

I don’t like GIMP’s user interface. Why can’t you just copy Adobe Photoshop?

In the past, the development in the project was somewhat erratic with regards to taking usability into consideration, which is rather typical for free software projects, but inexcusable for a high-end image editor that GIMP aims to become.

Between 2006 and 2013, we worked with Peter Sikking of Man+Machine Works, a professional usability architect, who helped us shape the project vision for GIMP, interviews professional users to better understand their workflows and demands, and wrote functional specifications for various GIMP features.

This collaboration resulted in major improvements of GIMP’s usability, in particular: the rectangular-based selection/cropping tools, the unified free/polyline selection tool, the single-window mode, the upcoming unified transformation tool etc.

While working on functional specifications, Peter researched how various features are implemented in applications with a partially matching feature set (such as Adobe Photoshop), but the final design was made to help actual users complete their tasks as fast as possible. This is exactly the kind of approach to designing interfaces that we consider to be superior to merely copying user interaction decisions.

I don’t like the name GIMP. Will you change it?

With all due respect, no.

We’ve been using the name GIMP for more than 20 years and it’s widely known.

The name was originally (and remains) an acronym; although the word “gimp” can be used offensively in some cultures, that is not our intent.

On top of that, we feel that in the long run, sterilization of language will do more harm than good. GIMP has been quite popular for a long time in search engine results compared to the use of the word “gimp”. So we think we are on the right track to make a positive change and make “gimp” something people actually feel good about. Especially if we add all the features we’ve been meaning to implement and fix the user interface.

Finally, if you still have strong feelings about the name “GIMP”, you should feel free to promote the use of the long form GNU Image Manipulation Program or exercise your software freedom to fork and rebrand GIMP.


When do you release the next version of GIMP?

We release both updates to the current stable version and development versions.

We cut new updates of the stable version in two cases: 1) some newly introduced bug is knowingly affecting a lot of users; 2) the amount of improvements and bug fixes is large enough to justify an update — typically, a few dozens of each, but there is no rule.

Currently, we are working on GIMP 3.0 that will be using the GTK+3 user interface toolkit and feature a lot of under-the-hood work. We also backport as many changes as possible to the 2.10.x branch so that you would get them as part of bugfix releases. We make 2.10.x releases on a regular basis, usually once in one or two months.

Why can’t you announce dates of future releases?

We are a team of volunteers with day jobs, families, and personal interests beyond development of software. Given that, we try to avoid the situation when we cannot deliver a release, because something else at work/in family came up.

Instead we provide a feature-based roadmap that roughly outlines, in what order we will be implementing various popular requests made by users.

Aren’t you interested in doing paid development of GIMP via crowdfunding?

Some developers have jobs they love and contribute in their spare time, while others actively try to make a living with Free Software development. GIMP project actively encourages personal fundraisers by trusted contributors. There are two such campaigns running at the moment. You can learn more about them on the Donate page.

If you are willing to launch a campaign and develop some features for GIMP, talk to us about changes you are about to propose. We’ll help you to flesh out your idea and promote it to a larger community.

Will you release GIMP for Android or iOS devices?

Apps for mobile devices imply a different approach to designing interfaces. Since most of GIMP’s source code is related to the user interface one way or another, it means that we would have to design and then develop a whole new application. Given the current manpower, we’d rather focus on delivering a great image manipulation program for desktop users.

However, we are interested to consult 3rd party developers willing to make a free/libre GIMP-branded image manipulation program for Android. As for iOS, please note that GIMP is licensed under GNU GPL v3+ which conflicts with Apple’s Terms of Service. For a full story, please read this article by Richard Gaywood.


I do not recognize GIMP’s user interface. It’s different from what I see in all tutorials. What do I do?

We switched to a dark user interface theme and a symbolic icon theme by default in version 2.10, we also introduced tool groups. If you absolutely want to revert GIMP to colorful icons, bright/system user interface, and no tool groups, here is what you do:

  1. Go to Edit > Preferences, in the newly opened window go to Interface > Theme and change the theme from Dark to System.

  2. Switch to the Interface > Icon Theme page nearby and change the theme from Symbolic to Legacy.

  3. Finally, go to Interface > Toolbox in the very same Preferences dialog and tick off the Use tool groups setting.

Changes will apply immediately. Click OK to confirm.

When will GIMP support HDR imaging and processing with 16bit per color channel precision?

GIMP 2.10 was released in April 2018 and is the first version of the program to feature processing with precision of 16-bit and 32-bit per color channel.

When will GIMP support any kind of non-destructive editing like adjustment layers, layer filters, and/or full-blown node-based editing?

Rejoice: GIMP 3.0 will have layer effects! 🎉

It is a first version, with a still basic and limited UI. More improvements are yet to come.

Will GIMP open raw (.NEF, .CR2 etc.) files from my camera?

Starting with version 2.10, GIMP features plug-ins for using darktable and RawTherapee to process raw images, as well as a preference for a default raw processing plug-in.

Yes, better support for CMYK has been on our roadmap for a long time. One of the ideas, how we want to make this work, was introduced by user interaction architect Peter Sikking at Libre Graphics Meeting 2009 and later — in his two-part article in his company’s blog: 1, 2. Please take some time to read up on that.

We needed to finalize transition to the new image processing engine, GEGL, before attemtping to introduce features like CMYK support. Now that it is complete, initial work on CMYK support has been done in the babl and GEGL libraries that GIMP relies on. This is partially funded by the GIMP community, you can join in, too.

More work happened in the GIMP 2.99.12 development iteration, as a GSoC project. This allowed or improved importing and exporting CMYK images in various file formats (converted to and from RGB as storage format) and expose CMYK pixel information within GIMP (e.g. when color picking) within the context of a soft-proof color profile.

More work needs to be done to better expose CMYK in the user interface. This should happen for GIMP 3.0.

As for making CMYK a core image format (such as RGB, Grayscale or indexed), we have no timeline on this but we also wish it to be possible some day. Also, please note that we are not planning advanced features such as GCR support for now. This will most likely require a new dedicated developer in the team.

Should a new developer join the team to specifically work on CMYK-related features, we will do our best to help him/her to complete this project and get it to our users as soon as possible.

I don’t like some changes you introduced in recent GIMP versions, like the Save/Export separation. Why can’t you add a checkbox to disable them?

We realize that some changes are disruptive to some groups of users, especially those who got used to GIMP as an image editor for doing quick fixes to lossy files such as JPEG, PNG etc. (i.e. files that cannot store layers, masks, custom channels, paths).

However, adding a switch for every change we make adds numerous levels of complexity that we’d rather avoid. Additionally, it would lead to dramatically changing the way we mean GIMP to work. Hence we respectfully disagree to make extra behaviour switches.

At the same time, if you don’t wish to abandon GIMP completely, we recommend having a look at the Saver and Save/export clean plug-ins by Akkana Peck, as well as at various GIMP forks on GitHub, although typically they aren’t maintained up to date with regards to bugfixes.

Why doesn’t GIMP use GTK+3?

A GTK+3 based version of GIMP is currently in the works and will be released as v3.0 (see the roadmap for reference).


How do I draw a straight line?

In any of the drawing tools (Pen, Pencil, etc.), click on one endpoint of the line. Then hold the shift key and click on the other endpoint.

How do I draw a circle or square?

In the Rectangular or Elliptical selection tool, click in one corner of your square or circle, then press Shift while dragging toward the other corner. Or enable the checkbox for Fixed: Aspect Ratio in tool options and make sure the aspect ratio is set to 1:1 before starting your square or circular selection.

Once you have a selection, Edit->Stroke Selection… will draw a line the shape of the selection you just made.

For curved selections, like circles, stroking with the Paintbrush paint tool will usually give a smoother looking line. You can get an even smoother line by converting the selection to a path (Select->To Path), then using Edit->Stroke Path… instead of Stroke Selection…


My graphic tablet doesn’t work on Windows/Mac. Does GIMP support advanced input devices such as Wacom?

Yes, GIMP does support graphic tablets and maps pressure, stroke speed, and other events to its advanced brush engine properties. However, the version of the user interface toolkit that GIMP currently relies on (GTK+ 2.x) is broken beyond repair on Windows and Mac with regards to supporting some advanced input devices such as Wacom’s.

To fix this, we need to port GIMP to GTK+3 where everything mostly works as expected. This is a work in progress.

Under MacOS GIMP fonts are garbled

Most likely this is an issue with MacOS font cache and is unrelated to GIMP. See Dealing with Garbled Fonts blog post about dealing with it.


I’m a developer. How do I help you?

Great! Please check the developer website for introduction on GIMP development and talk to us on IRC.

I’m not a developer. Can I still help you somehow?

Absolutely! Our community includes artists, designers, translators, documenters, writers, webmasters and much more! Please check the Get Involved pages for ways you can help. Here are some of the ways you can help us: