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Hi, I've been trying to figure out to align stuff in gimp. As you can see I have cropped this layer to its contents, selected it, and set align relative to image, but the align tool does not do anything. The buttons are greyed out.

This happens regardless of what new objects, layers, etc I am making. What am I doing wrong?

  • Well, after an hour of previous troubleshooting I figured it out immediately. You just have to select the damn thing to move it. Too bad!
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 0:19
  • Of course... In the Align tool you can align several layers, so the "current layer" concept cannot apply, you need another way to select things. Furthermore you can align things relative to the first item, so the Align tool need to know which one of the first.
    – xenoid
    Commented Sep 5, 2021 at 7:08

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, use of the Align tool is not intuitive or obvious, but a few simple notes should get you on the way to success.

The align tool is for aligning layers. This is quite important to know, because the size of the layers will determine how they will be aligned, and obviously everything needs to be on their own separate layers to use this tool.

If all the layers are the same size and position, regardless of what's on the layer itself, using the Align tool appears to do nothing. In GIMP layers can have different sizes. A layer can for example be smaller than the image size. You can crop layers manually if it's not already the size you need. The Crop tool has a "Current layer only" option in the Tool Options to allow you to crop a layer. Also, Layer > Crop to Content can be useful for doing this automatically.

When using the Align tool, you need to make selections to tell the software what you want it to do with them. If you don't make selections, the tool won't work.

There are various options in the Tool Options listed under "Relative to" - again to tell the software what you want to align the selections to. Feel free to experiment with these.

To make multiple selections, hold down Shift as you click. The order you click these may also have an effect depending on the "Relative to" option you choose - specifically the "first item" option.

Here's a very quick demo. First I show all layers are different sizes by selecting each in turn. These are shown by the layer boundary dotted yellow line (note this is not a selection). Then I show making multiple selections, then using the Align buttons. Selections using the Align Tool are indicated by four white corner handles.

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  • Nope, I have all my layers "Crop to content" the yellow dotted line clearly shows the boundary is quite smaller than the image canvas, and yet selecting this layer with the Align tool shows those little white corner squares far off this boundary, on the edge of the canvas, meaning align relative to Image does nothing. This also applies to text layers, which already have a boundary that is the size of the text.
    – Domarius
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 1:23
  • Fixed; my issue is that the layers were in a layer folder. So it doesn't apply to "Layers", it applies to "Top level layers and layer folders" which is more complex, less useful, and harder to understand.
    – Domarius
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 1:25
  • @Domarius The original question has no layer groups, so this answer is not really relevant to your situation. This answer was only for a simple layer structure. Maybe you should ask a new question if you are having problems aligning layer groups.
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 16:01
  • Yes I said I worked it out. My critisism is with the Align tool - when you select an individual layer within the group, the tool should work directly on that layer, not the whole group. Seems like obvious functionality.
    – Domarius
    Commented Aug 17, 2022 at 6:40

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