Go to TopCustomising The GIMP

By default, when launched after being first installed, GIMP displays three windows, the main GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) window, a "Toolbox" and another containing an assortment of dialogues, known as a "Dock". The GIMP uses a large number of dialogues it can be useful to keep them available to make adjustments to settings. GIMP allows them to be combined into a single window. This process is known as docking a dialogue and a set of combined dialogues is known as a "Dock".

Because GIMP is a comprehensive program designed for a vast range of tasks, not just editing photographs, the version presented to students has been customised to simplify  the interface by removing some of the available features and docking some of the dialogues in the Toolbox. This handout describes:

1. How to restore the features found in the default installation, so it will be easier to follow GIMP tutorials that are available on the web and

2. Demonstrates how easy it is to produce a very personalised copy of the program.

Go to TopThe Toolbox

As presented, the top of the Toolbox holds a number of buttons and the bottom half a number of docked dialogues. Both sections have been customised. Should you wish to revert to the standard installation you should reset the tool buttons and close all bar the Tool Options dialogue. The procedures for doing these are included in the following notes.

Go to TopButtons

GIMP Tools Dialogue

GIMP Tools Dialogue

The buttons available in the top half of the toolbox are controlled through the "Tools" dialogue. To access this, open the Window menu and select Dockable Dialogues, then Tools (a Trowel icon, towards the bottom of the menu).

If a button is shown in the toolbox then there is an eye icon shown beside the item in the Tools window.

To add a button to the toolbox click to the left of  the desired tool's icon on the Tools window. To remove an item, click the eye beside its icon.

In the customised set of buttons a number of the default set have been removed as they are not needed on the course and two have been added, the Levels and Curves tools. These are the preferred tools for adjusting contrast and brightness and a making a range of colour corrections to photographs.

To adjust a button's position in the toolbox, select its icon in the Tools dialogue and click on the up or down arrow button at the bottom of the dialogue.

To return to the original set of toolbox buttons, click the Reset button at the bottom right of the Tools dialogue.

Go to TopDialogues

Gimp Toolbox Configure Tab Menu

Gimp Window Lower Pane tab button

By default, the lower pane in the toolbox contains only the "Tool Options" dialogue.

When more than one dialogue is docked, tabs appear to allow the required dialogue to be selected. These tabs can be re-ordered by dragging them left and right.

To remove any dialogue, select its tab, then click the Configure Tab (small left-pointing arrowhead) button to the right of its title bar and select "Close Tab" from the menu.

Similarly, tabs may be added by clicking the Configure Tab button and selecting the "Add tab" option, then the tool required from the cascading menu that appears.

Further customisations are also possible using the Configure Tab menu.

Go to TopDialogue Windows (Docks)

It is very easy for a beginner to close the default Dialogue window. Many new users will do this as if by instinct, as they shut down their computer. Once closed the dialogue window stays closed and needs to be manually re-opened (Menu: Windows > Recently Closed Docks). This is one reason for choosing to dock dialogues in the Toolbox, which will open as the program starts. The smaller number of windows also reduces clutter on smaller screens but can mean more clicking on the Toolbox to bring the appropriate dialogue into view.

 GIMP - Docking a dialogue

GIMP - Where to dock a dialogue

GIMP - Docking a dialogue

GIMP - Where to dock a dialogue

To build a brand new dock to suit your requirements open the Windows menu select Dockable Dialogues and then, from the cascading menu, the desired dialogue.

Once the first dialogue is on screen you can use the technique described in the section above to add or remove dialogues from the Dock.

Notice that, at the top of the window, there is a narrow bar that shows a "You can drop dockable dialogues here" tool tip. If you wish to have a multi-tier dock, show two or more dialogues, one above the other, then drag on the dialogue's tab or its title bar (NOT the window's title bar) and drop it on this area. As you reach the target area, the bar will become highlighted in blue.

To add further dialogues to a tier in the dock or further customise the dock, use the "configure Tab" menu illustrated in the section above.

Go to Top Page updated: 29 September 2009