In GIMP, I use the following sequence:

  • select a layer with an image
  • make a selection and copy it with Ctrl+C
  • create a new layer with transparency fill type
  • paste selection with Ctrl+V

Problem: The content of copied selection is not pasted.

If I paste it on a layer with a white background, it is visible, but I want a transaparent background.

3 Answers 3


In the Channels tab, the Alpha Channel must activated.

Activated channels appear highlighted generally in blue in the Channels dialog (sometimes in grey). Inactive channels appear in white. If you click on a channel in the list, you toggle activation of the corresponding channel. Disabling the alpa channel has severe consequences. If you disable the alpha channels, all pixels from now on added to the image will not have alpha component, and so a pasted pixel will have the transparency of the layer on which it is pasted.

If the layer on which it is pasted is transparent, the pasted pixel will be transparent. If the layer on which it is pasted is white, the pasted pixel will be visible.

This explains the behaviour you observed.

See https://docs.gimp.org/2.8/en/gimp-channel-dialog.html

  • By default, all channels are active (it's better to think of that as RGBA component filters, btw). Do you know why/how you deactivated the Alpha channel when trying this initially? Oct 1, 2017 at 18:31
  • @MichaelSchumacher I had a look at the channels and must have left the A channel unselected without anticipating the consequences.
    – PaulH
    Oct 4, 2017 at 13:54
  • It is very easy to deactivate the channel by accident: clicking on the channel is enough to deactivate it and the only visual difference is a change of from a shade of grey to a very close other shade of grey.
    – Arnaud
    Dec 13, 2019 at 9:24

Make sure that the transparent layer you added is the layer which is marked active in the Layers list when you paste. Otherwise you will be pasting to the same layer you copied from, with no visible results.

Don't forget to Anchor (Ctrl-H) if the paste looks OK.

  • Good tip, but this was not the reason for my problem.
    – PaulH
    Sep 30, 2017 at 9:48

Make sure the new layer you are pasting on has the blend mode set to normal.

After pasting using CTRL+V, hit the Anchor button in the layers palette to anchor the floating selection to the new layer you made.

Alternatively instead of hitting Paste (CTRL+V), use Edit > Paste As > New Layer - then you can skip the create new layer and anchor steps altogether.

  • Edit > Paste As > New Layer isn't the same thing, what is pasted is put in the top left corner and not over the source.
    – xenoid
    Sep 27, 2017 at 13:53
  • Good tips, but this was not the reason for my problem.
    – PaulH
    Sep 30, 2017 at 9:49

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