Aug 31 2004

Inspired by a friend, I’ve put down a list of shortcuts and tweaks that make my life with GIMP a lot easier.


As you may know, the move tool is also used to pick layers (Shift to toggle). You may not know the super handy shortcut to the move tool by holding spacebar from any other active tool. Releasing the key will get you back to the previous tool.

You can toggle the active layer in the layers dock, with the move tool directly on the canvas, or you can toggle though them using the Ctrl+Tab shortcut.

Image Windows and Fullscreen

The fullscreen mode (F11 to toggle) is very handy for previewing images, but also for editing work. The advantage of seeing as much of the artwork as possible is lovely. If you have a dualhead system with separate screens, you can put another view of the same image to the second screen using View>Move to Screen and making it fullscreen. Ctrl+E will scale the image to fit the view. You can also try various display filters to mimic target display on one of the heads (View>Display Filters…).

When having many image windows open, navigating to the right one is sometimes hard. GIMP leaves a lot of this work to a window manager. I’m using metacity and I must say it plays quite well these days. Alt+Tab will give a list of windows, with nice previews.


By default, 1 will get you a 1:1 zoom. I’ve set up additional shortcuts 2 - 2:1, 4 - 4:1, etc. And Alt+2 for 1:2, etc. To pan around the image, use the 3rd mousebutton.

Of course the fastest way to zoom remains the Shift

  • mouse wheel shortcut.

Instead of the canvas background color setting, GIMP 2.1 has a nice zoom toggle in the upper right corner of the image to lock zooming to the window size changes. It also supports new controllers such as the Powermate or any MIDI device so you can assign various actions to their events. At the moment you need to edit ~/.gimp-2.1/controllerrc, but in stable it’s going to be in preferences.


GIMP 2.1 now supports some extra shortcut incorporated along with the controllers support. You can finally change the brush size and opacity without leaving canvas.

Pressing Ctrl when in one of the paint tools, will change the tool to color picker temporarily so you can get a color from the canvas fast.

Alt+Mousewheel Change Brush Opacity

Ctrl+Shift+Mousewheel Change active brush

Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Mousewheel Change active font

Alt+Shift+Mousewheel Change active pattern

Once this is all sorted and stable I hope I will be able to bind alt+powermate to context-brush-radius-increase and Ctrl+powermate to set hardness.