In GIMP I have 2 images with exact same size and properties but different layers. Now I have a relatively large layer group, which I would like to copy to the other image. As usual I copy and paste it. Now it is a floating selection. As suggested in the docs, I click to anchor the floating selection. However, after clicking "anchor", floating selection disappears.

Is my GIMP has a bug or am I doing something wrong here?

Correction: I can copy a layer group but it comes flattened/merged as one single layer. I do want to keep it as a layer group.

3 Answers 3


Copy&paste is the wrong approach to copy layers from one image to another - this will only transfer the layer content, and as you have discovered that isn't the same as a layer or group of layers.

Instead, drag the layer or layer group from the layers dialog of the source image to an image window of the target image. This will keep them intact, including any possible layer parasites (this is important for text layers, for example).

  • 2
    Linux Mint, Gimp 2.8.10. Dragging fials to both image and Layers panel. It starts, but dropping does nothing.
    – Zon
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 5:27
  • 6
    The details are key: left click and drag the layer by its NAME up to the tab of the other file. Wait...after a second or so Gimp will switch to that tab (don't let go yet!). Once the new tab is active, continue dragging DOWN into the work area until a Plus (+) sign appears. Then release the left mouse button. The new layer group will appear immediately above the last active layer in this 2nd tab.
    – SMBiggs
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 2:53
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    @Scott Biggs is correct. But it's so counterintuitive--you must drag from the layer list, but must drop onto the working space (instead of the other project's layer list)--that I think it should count as a bug.
    – Phil Goetz
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 22:48
  • 1
    It's very unintuitive for me with the single window mode, because you go to a tab, not an image window to select the target image. My mouse then travelled from the tab to the layers control without ever passing over the target image canvas, so I never saw the cursor change to indicate a drop target. Especially when working on smaller images that don't fill the window this is very likely to happen. Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 16:08
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    I promoted the specifics about how and where to drag the layer in single window mode. (Thanks, @SMBiggs!) If someone knows how to describe the operation for the other mode, please do so.
    – daveloyall
    Commented Nov 28, 2022 at 23:30

Save the original image with the layer group as an xcf. In the new image, and open the original as layers (File > Open as Layers). This will add all of the layers from the original image.

You'll need to delete the layers from the new image that you don't want. Unfortunately you can't pick/choose what layers you import. But as long as this is only a one-time transfer (i.e. you don't need to copy/paste the layer group back and forth) this should work.

EDIT: This was tested in GIMP 2.8.4. Michael's answer is a better way, if you are using a version of GIMP that supports it.

  • I didn't test this, but I think this also works out well. I could not upvote it sorry! (requires 15 reputation) Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 12:48
  • This worked first time for me, and as it seemed easier than the other methods, I'm happy with it. I'm using Gimp 2.10.8. Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 13:17
  • I noticed that if you have a group selected in the target project, all layers of the source image are imported under that group, perfec. Commented Jul 9, 2021 at 17:39

Actually, yes, you can use Copy & Paste, you'll just want to rename the floating layer, and it creates a new layer with that content. I use GIMP 2.8.8 and it does that.

  • There doesn't seem to be a way to copy a layer (not RMC on the layer, neither in the Edit, Select, or Layers dropdown menus). Any selection you have will be things within a layer... but even if you make sure to select them all carefully (especially if doing multiple layers), you'll lose things like layer opacity and masking. I understand if you're not a big layer user, I certainly wasn't for years, but as time has gone on I've finally taken to them (better later than never I guess!), and the distinction is now important anymore whether doing things directly to the pixels, or to the layer :-) Commented Feb 4, 2021 at 14:33

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