I'm very new to GIMP and found that doing simple stuff in GIMP is much harder than it should be.

All I want to do is add a simple black border around an image layer. I have added this image using the "Open as Layers" option (as I have many images in one document!), but can't seem to find an option to add a border around the image.

Please help!

  • Have you used Select -> Border...? I don't own GIMP but that sounds about right.
    – AndrewH
    Sep 14, 2015 at 14:37
  • The border option is grayed out Sep 14, 2015 at 14:41
  • You probably have to make a selection with the one of the marquee tools first.
    – AndrewH
    Sep 14, 2015 at 14:45
  • How do i make a selection around an image automatically Sep 14, 2015 at 14:49
  • I have added a different method as an answer. You can select all by using the shortcut Ctrl+A (Mac CMD + A) or by using the Rectangular Select tool (R). I found a list of these shortcuts at http://www.gimpusers.com/gimp/hotkeys
    – AndrewH
    Sep 14, 2015 at 14:52

5 Answers 5


For an individual layer:

  • Select->All
  • Edit->Stroke Selection
  • Choose line style, width->Stroke

By default the stroke color is the foreground color

  • Thanks so much. It sucks that filter->decor is useless for individual layer. Why does GIMP have two ways of doing the same thing?
    – Hritik
    Jul 8, 2021 at 14:28

Go to Filters -> Decor -> Add Border...

Then choose your border settings

border settings

From the GIMP help files

Border X size, Border Y size Here you can select the thickness of the added border, in pixels. X size (left an right) and Y size (top and bottom) may be different. Maximum is 250 pixels.

Border color Clicking on this button brings up the color selector dialog that allows you to choose an “average” border color (see below, Delta value on color).

Delta value on color This option makes the border sides to be colored in different shades and thus makes the image to appear raised. The actual color of the respective border side is computed for every color component red, green, and blue[15] from the “average” Border color as follows (resulting values less than 0 are set to 0, values greater than 255 are set to 255):

Top shade = Border color + Delta

Right shade = Border color - ½ Delta

Bottom shade = Border color - Delta

Left shade = Border color + ½ Delta

  • 5
    Doesn't this add a border around the entire layer. not the image? Sep 14, 2015 at 15:55
  • 1
    Yes this will add a border to the document. If you wanted a border just around an image then you can make that selection on a new layer, fill it with black and just resizes that layer.
    – AndrewH
    Sep 14, 2015 at 16:52

Here's what worked for me in GIMP 2.10:

  1. Select the layer with the image you want the border on (click on the layer itself in the list)
  2. Using the menu: Select --> All
  3. Using the menu: Edit --> Stroke Selection
  4. In the dialogue box, leave everything selected as default, and set the line width and color.
  5. Press Okay/Apply, and enjoy. :)

Using the Add Border filter only seems to work if you want to apply a border to the entire image. It looks like it just creates a new layer on top for the border and resizes the canvas. It doesn't work for individual layers.

You can manually do the same thing for an individual layer.

  1. Duplicate the layer that needs a border. (This duplicate layer will be the border.)
  2. Resize the border layer (Layer → Scale layer). For example, if you want a 1 px border, add 2 pixels to height and width.
  3. Change the fill of the border layer by
    • Selecting the border layer
    • Selecting everything it (Ctrl+A)
    • Changing the current foreground color to the desired border color
    • Using the Bucket Fill Tool (Shift+B), hold Shift and click inside the border layer
  4. Move the border layer to be one layer below the layer that needs the border.

In the new GIMP (as in April 2021, version 2.10.14), you have to 'select' an area using any select tool, then go to 'select' menu, and click on 'Border'. It then 'selects' a border area of the previous selection, and the border thickness needs to be chosen in terms of pixels, before you click 'ok'. This only 'selects' the border area, so you have to go to 'edit' menu and chose 'fill with foreground colour' (as may be applicable) to get the colour added to this selected border.

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