I apologize for the very general nature of this question but I do think it's something a lot of people could use tips on.

I've used Photoshop for about 10 years and don't have access to it now, so I'm trying to get used to Gimp. There are some very common things one would want to do in a graphics editing program, that at this point have very universal and thus intuitive ways of being done, not just specific to Photoshop, that when I try to do in Gimp I feel like I'm being tortured. I was hoping an experienced user who has made the transition might be able to give me some general pointers. I've included below a list of specific issues, but any general ideas like "what on Photoshop is this, is interpreted this way on Gimp," would be very appreciated.

  1. I import a new layer into Gimp. The new layer is smaller than the document. I want to move stuff around, incorporating it into my entire image, but Gimp crops out the image the moment it leaves the frame of the layer it was in. Every time I encounter this, I have to look up again how to change the size of the layer. It seems so counterintuitive and useless for this to be necessary! There must be an easier way.
  2. I want to copy and paste a selection. On every other application I've ever heard of, you can do this with command-C and command-V. Not here. I still have yet to find a straightforward way to just copy and paste. I feel like I have to trick the program into doing something that any user would clearly want to do.
  3. I want to delete a part of a layer, revealing the stuff that's behind it. Before I can do this, I need to control-click the layer, go to layer properties and tell it to add an alpha channel. Of course I want it to have an alpha channel! It's a layer!
  4. I select a layer in the layer window, one that is mostly transparent and has smaller images in it, for example text on a transparent background. I then go to click on it to do something, but if I click on a part that's transparent, it automatically switches me to a layer behind it. Is there any way to tell the program I want to work in the layer I selected, and stay there until I select a different one? Meanwhile it has no problem letting me, say, erase an accidentally selected hidden layer, with no warning.
  5. Every time I switch out of the application and then switch back in, my tools and layers windows are gone, and I have to re-open them. I don't think you can really do anything in the program without at least one of these windows open. Do I need to go into the preferences and set something saying that I have the program open because I intend on continuing to use it or what?
  6. Photoshop has something called "free transform," where you can resize, move, stretch, skew and rotate with various mouse movements, without having to finalize your decision until you're done. In Gimp, it seems you can resize and move via shift-t but otherwise you have to do and finalize each thing separately. Sometimes I don't know how I want it resized, for instance, without seeing how it looks under another change. Is that not possible here?
  7. I want to export an image of my picture. Let's say I want a .jpg. I go into the window for doing that and select my image format from the list. Then I have to manually change the file extension in the file name to the one that matches my choice, or get an error message. !?!

I realize I'm being a little ranty and complainy -- try to understand this post is a result of many long frustrated sessions trying to adapt to the program. I'm just looking for some general guidance and would rather not hang on to my current attitude about Gimp. So maybe you can get an idea of my perspective from the stuff I listed above and help me out ey?

Thanks in advance.

  • 5
    how? Painfully. :)
    – DA01
    Oct 6, 2017 at 19:59
  • 2
    @DA01 Thanks for that. At this point I'll settle for empathy.
    – j0equ1nn
    Oct 6, 2017 at 20:00
  • 2
    Would you consider splitting your question into parts? I'd like to help but I'm not sure how many people have the appetite for such a long answer!
    – johnp
    Oct 6, 2017 at 20:03
  • 2
    This is far too broad a question and so it will probably be closed. Can you please ask one question at a time?. Let's start with Number 1. You can delete the rest, and ask these as separate questions. Now as for question No 1, how exactly are you importing the layer? Do you have a screenshot which shows the problem you are having?
    – Billy Kerr
    Oct 7, 2017 at 9:28
  • 1
    Also, how much time did you spend on this very site to get answers for a few of your questions, and what have you found? It is expected that questions show what effort has been spent on solving them. Oct 7, 2017 at 11:59

1 Answer 1


Here's an answer for Question No 1. I am going to assume you will delete the other questions, and ask them separately.

Your question is a bit short on detail, a screenshot showing the problem would have helped, so this is ultimately a guess.

Make sure the layer you have pasted or imported is actually a layer, and not a floating selection. Hit the New Layer button in the layers panel to anchor the floating selection to it's own layer. This may actually fix several of the issues you already face.

Also, the anchor button in the layers panel anchors a floating selection to the previously selected layer. If you want to anchor it to a blank layer, you can also create a blank layer first before pasting, then anchor. Or alternatively you can use Edit > Paste as > New Layer, or use File > Open as layers, to import an image as a new layer.

GIMP is NOT Photoshop, it works differently, and I might add that Photoshop is not especially intuitive either - it only appears so when you are used to how it works. If you can stop expecting GIMP to work like Photoshop, you will face fewer problems in the long run. I too learnt Photoshop first, and then GIMP, so I do have empathy for you, and understand your pain.

It might be worth your while checking out the GIMP user manual. There's lots of useful info there, plus there are thousands of GIMP tutorials on youtube you can access for free. There are also many answers to GIMP questions here on GDSE already.

By the way, as an additional bonus, the "my tools and layers windows are gone" problem can be resolved by clicking Windows > Single Window Mode, if you don't like the default multiple window user interface. The Move tool option "Move the active layer" will fix some of your other issues.

  • Using the anchor button would merge the floating selection with the previously active layer and not create a new layer. Oct 7, 2017 at 11:35
  • 1
    So, the OP could create a new blank layer first, or instead use Edit > Paste as > New Layer, or File > Open As Layers, or right click the floating selection and choose New Layer.
    – Billy Kerr
    Oct 7, 2017 at 11:40
  • No, basically just use the New Layer button with the floating selection. Oct 7, 2017 at 11:42
  • @MichaelSchumacher Well yes that too, but there are still many other ways to do it!
    – Billy Kerr
    Oct 7, 2017 at 11:43
  • See my suggested edit. Oct 7, 2017 at 11:45

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