Take the 2-minute tour ×
Graphic Design Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for Graphic Design professionals, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

When I try to align various layers in GIMP 2.8, sometimes the align tool selects the entire image, not the layer I clicked on.

It doesn't matter how many times I try, and closing/reopening doesn't solve the problem. I've not yet discovered any regularities, it just seems to happen at random regardless of layer contents, size or position. It even happens with layers I'd previously aligned without issue.

Why does GIMP do this? Can it be fixed?

share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I personally find the align tool to be very little intuitive. I cannot reproduce your scenario, and the only thing I could imagine for the behavior you describe is if your target layer would have a lot of transparent detail, and would be hard to click on it (like in a layer with text with a small font). However, clicking repeatedly on the layer position could fix that - so I don't think that is your case.

Otherwise, what you are describing is just a bug in the program, that should be reported on the http://bugzilla.gnome.org tool, so that GIMP developers could know about it and fix in a comming release.

However, if you detail your use cases for the tool, I can try to come up with a script that would be useful for you right now, apart from the align tool. Such a script would require one to pick layers on the layer dialog, instead directly on the canvas, but it would work.

share|improve this answer

I had been having this problem FOREVER and I just found a solution, even though the person I was talking to about the move tool made me actually figure out the problem.

The alignment tool is selecting the top most layer where ever you click, regardless of what layer you have selected/transparencies. Try hiding the layers above what you are trying to work on, or move it to the top, use the tool, then move it back down.

share|improve this answer
This is the correct answer -- and thanks so much for it! –  Thomas Feb 19 at 18:21

As was said in another answer, the default behavior of the move tool, is to select whatever visible element is under the cursor. This means that if one clicks on a transparent part of a layer, something beneath it will be moved. One way to avoid this problem is to switch the tool mode to only moving the active layer. This way, no matter where you click in your working area, only the active layer will be moved.

enter image description here

This behavior is more labor intensive than the default because you must always make a layer active before you can move it. This is annoying when working on composition (when you are moving many different layers frequently). To that end, the "Move the active layer" behavior can be temporarily toggled by holding down the Shift key before clicking to move a layer.

share|improve this answer
Thanks, but I have no problem using the move tool. That one has always worked the way it's supposed to. It's the align tool that stops working seemingly at random. I'm inclined to think that it's a bug as @jsbueno said, since I'm pretty sure I tried clicking things in every sensible way. –  Réka Apr 17 '14 at 9:24
@Réka My apologies. I must have misread your question. –  jpheldson Apr 17 '14 at 17:50

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.