GIMP: Best Freeware Image Editor

gimp-free-photoshop

Top Tool! Of course, the free GIMP does not replace a fully equipped Photoshop by far, but we do not know a better equipped freeware image editor.

Advantages:

  • freely extendable
  • numerous filters & tools included
  • wide format support

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a good free alternative to Adobe’s Photoshop and comes with numerous professional editing features for images and photos.

Solid is the selection and montage technique. The program offers all the selection tools. The retouching functions and contrast correction also meet high standards. In just a few steps, you can crop images, free up sections or undo changes. To realize even complex edits, you can create layers in GIMP on which you can work separately.

Tip: The free extension PSPI makes it possible to use plug-ins in 8BF format under GIMP.

The free image editing suite GIMP can be used to perform all retouching and optimization tasks on digital photos and images. The open source software is thus an alternative to the paid professional software Adobe Photoshop. The abbreviation GIMP stands for “GNU Image Manipulation Program”, which stands for free image editing program. The freeware is one of the most popular open source programs, and its developers have extensively revised the software with version 2.10. The major Gimp update brought new GIMP functions, filters as well as tools for image editing, retouching, manipulation and optimization of photos. In addition, 32-bit color depth is now supported and recovery is possible in case of program crashes.

With the free image editing suite GIMP, all retouching and optimization tasks on digital photos and images can be done. The open source software is thus an alternative to the paid professional software Adobe Photoshop. The abbreviation GIMP stands for “GNU Image Manipulation Program”, which stands for free image editing program. The freeware is one of the most popular open source programs, and its developers have extensively revised the software with version 2.10. The major Gimp update brought new GIMP functions, filters as well as tools for image editing, retouching, manipulation and optimization of photos. In addition, 32-bit color depth is now supported and recovery is possible in the event of program crashes.

GIMP Supports 32-bit color depth

The image editing program GIMP offers a range of functions based on the graphics library GEGL (Generic Graphics Library) and includes complete ICC color management. Since GIMP version 2.10, the limitation to an 8-bit color depth of the former version 2.8 or earlier has been dropped. Because the open source software for image editing supports from version 2.10 depending on the filter used also 16- and 32-bit per color channel. For saving, however, you have to choose a file format like PNG, TIFF, PSD, FITS and OpenEXR that can handle more than 8-bit color depth.

Variable interface

The interface for image editing takes some getting used to for GIMP beginners. It can appear as one complete window or alternatively be divided into three freely movable windows for tools, layers and image, which the user can set under “Window > Single Window Mode”. The light gray look has been complemented by medium and dark gray since version 2.10.

GIMP tools and raw import

After a bit of familiarization, choosing the right tools becomes easier. Then you can edit the exposure, color, brightness, contrast and saturation of photos. Numerous standard tools allow light activities such as cropping images, reducing or enlarging images, and rotating photos. Moreover, image defects can be removed as well as images can be transformed, sharpened, blurred, copied, text can be added to them or their metadata can be edited. In addition, filters, effects and layers help with more extensive projects that go beyond retouching and optimizing images.

With support from Darktable or RawTherapee, raw photos can be imported into GIMP since version 2.10 and a filter corrects light and shadow of the images since this upgrade. Once the photo has been edited or the image project completed, it can be saved as a project file for further editing, exported as a finished image file or alternatively published. Features for web publishing and export are available with the open source software. If you need help here, you can find various instructions and a tutorial for image editing on the homepage of GIMP as well as in the community forums and on YouTube.

Working with plug-ins and devices

In addition to mouse and keyboard, GIMP supports special graphics devices such as drawing pads or tablets. Special commands and macros can also be created for mouse and keyboard.

If you need more functions and capabilities, you can extend GIMP with plug-ins and scripts for image editing, which support additional file and image formats, for example. For example, the UFRaw plug-in brings a converter for digital camera formats. Small functions such as batch processing or EXIF data display of the images can also be incorporated in this way.

Download and installation

GIMP can be installed under the operating systems Windows and macOS with the appropriate EXE or DMG file. For Linux it is useful to have a look at the software management of the distribution. Because GIMP is led by many Linux systems in the package sources and can be installed over the graphic application center. With Ubuntu and Debian the installation is alternatively possible on the command line by the command “sudo apt-get install gimp”, if the user has administrator rights.

However, it may be that an older version of GIMP is available in the package sources and the latest one must be downloaded and installed manually. An alternative in this case is GIMP Portable, which can be run with Wine. Another alternative are application containers like Flatpak or Snap.

Frequently asked questions about Gimp

We have compiled some common questions about Gimp, which we answer below.

Is Gimp free of charge?

Yes, the Gimp download is free as well as the use of the open source software.

Is Gimp better than Adobe Photoshop?

Even though Gimp is a comprehensive image editing software that can be extended with features, Photoshop is ahead in the professional field with its features and integration possibilities with other Adobe products. For ambitious photographers who do not necessarily have to work with Photoshop, however, Gimp is a very good alternative, especially since the freeware has been further improved with version 2.10 and now also supports 32-bit color depth.

GIMP Portable

Among the versions of GIMP, the portable version is interesting for those who do not have administrator rights to install software on a computer. Because with GIMP Portable, the freeware can be started as a portable version even from a USB stick. This works not only on Windows PCs, but also on computers with a Linux operating system, provided that the software Wine is installed, which can run an EXE file as runtime environment.

Edit images with many functions

There are many image editing programs and apps that allow simple retouching and automatic corrections, as a look at the apps on Google play shows. Gimp
Portable offers not just one function, but numerous ones for editing images, with various effects thrown in for good measure.Like professional image editing programs, GIMP Portable offers working with layers, channels, gradients, brushes, cloning tools, airbrushing and anti-aliasing. Transformation tools for flipping,
Scaling and rotating are included as well as selection tools for elliptical, rectangular and free selection and the magic wand. Working steps can be undone or repeated. The minimum and maximum number of steps can be set in the settings.

GIMP supports various image formats

The portable software saves photos not only in its own XCF format, but also supports JPEG, PNG, EPS, GIF, PSD, TIFF and BMP, among others. Saving to these formats is possible via the export function of the freeware. For example, the quality of a JPEG image can be adjusted. This is important when publishing on the Internet, so that the construction of the website does not take too long and users are not tempted to click away.

Plug-ins extend image processing

Image editing programs do not have every needed function built in. That’s why GIMP Portable allows to install functions via plug-ins. The plug-ins are either available on the Internet or can be written with the programming language C itself.
Important plug-ins like the “normalize function” are already delivered with GIMP, so that a subsequent installation is not necessary.

GIMP not only for Windows

GIMP Portable runs on Windows, but can be run on Linux with the help of Wine. However, this is not absolutely necessary. Because GIMP is available as freeware free of charge for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux to install. In addition, GIMP Incscape, an app for Android, is available on Google play and can be used on large tablets.

Michael Humpa

I'm Michael Humpa, author of the Novilabmobile website, writing reviews of popular programs on the Internet for you.

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