Chapter 2. Fire up the GIMP

Table of Contents

1. Running GIMP
1.1. Known Platforms
1.2. Language
1.3. Command Line Arguments
2. Starting GIMP the first time
2.1. Finally . . .

1. Running GIMP

Most often, you start GIMP either by clicking on an icon (if your system is set up to provide you with one), or by typing gimp on a command line. If you have multiple versions of GIMP installed, you may need to type gimp-2.8 to get the latest version. You can, if you want, give a list of image files on the command line after the program name, and they will automatically be opened by GIMP as it starts. It is also possible, though, to open files from within GIMP once it is running.

Most operating systems support file associations, which associates a class of files (as determined by their filename extension, such as .jpg) with a corresponding application (such as GIMP). When image files are properly associated to GIMP, you can double click on an image to open it in GIMP.

1.1. Known Platforms

The GIMP is the most widely supported image manipulation available today. The platforms on which GIMP is known to work include:

GNU/Linux™, Apple Mac OS X™, Microsoft Windows™, OpenBSD™, NetBSD™, FreeBSD™, Solaris™, SunOS™, AIX™, HP-UX™, Tru64™, Digital UNIX™, OSF/1™, IRIX™, OS/2™, and BeOS™.

The GIMP is easily ported to other operating systems because of its source code availability. For further information visit the GIMP developers homepage. [GIMP-DEV].

1.2. Language

GIMP automatically detects and uses the system language. In the unlikely event that language detection fails, or if you just want to use a different language, since GIMP-2.8, you can do so through: EditPreferencesInterface.

You can also use:

Under Linux

In LINUX: in console mode, type LANGUAGE=en gimp or LANG=en gimp replacing en by fr, de, ... according to the language you want. Background: Using LANGUAGE=en sets an environment variable for the executed program gimp.

Under Windows XP

Control PanelSystemAdvancedEnvironment button in System Variables area: Add button: Enter LANG for Name and fr or de... for Value. Watch out! You have to click on three successive OK to validate your choice.

If you change languages often, you can create a batch file to change the language. Open NotePad. Type the following commands (for french for instance):

set lang=fr
start gimp-2.8.exe

Save this file as GIMP-FR.BAT (or another name, but always with a .BAT extension). Create a shortcut and drag it to your desktop.

Another possibility: StartProgramsGTK Runtime Environment Then Select language and select the language you want in the drop-down list.

Under Apple Mac OS X

From System Preferences, click on the International icon. In the Language tab, the desired language should be the first in the list.

Another GIMP instance

Use -n to run multiple instances of GIMP. For example, use gimp-2.8 to start GIMP in the default system language, and LANGUAGE=en gimp-2.8 -n to start another instance of GIMP in English; this is very useful for translators.

1.3. Command Line Arguments

Although arguments are not required when starting GIMP, the most common arguments are shown below. On a Unix system, you can use man gimpfor a complete list.

Command line arguments must be in the command line that you use to start GIMP as gimp-2.8 [OPTION...] [FILE|URI...].

-?, --help

Display a list of all commandline options.


Show all help options.


Show GTK+ Options.

-v, --version

Print the GIMP version and exit.


Show license information and exit.


Show detailed start-up messages.

-n, --new-instance

Start a new GIMP instance.

-a, --as-new

Open images as new.

-i, --no-interface

Run without a user interface.

-d, --no-data

Do not load patterns, gradients, palettes, or brushes. Often useful in non-interactive situations where start-up time is to be minimized.

-f, --no-fonts

Do not load any fonts. This is useful to load GIMP faster for scripts that do not use fonts, or to find problems related to malformed fonts that hang GIMP.

-s, --no-splash

Do not show the splash screen while starting.


Do not use shared memory between GIMP and plugins.


Do not use special CPU acceleration functions. Useful for finding or disabling buggy accelerated hardware or functions.


Use a different sessionrc for this GIMP session. The given session name is appended to the default sessionrc filename.


Use an alternative gimprc instead of the default one. The gimprc file contains a record of your preferences. Useful in cases where plugins paths or machine specs may be different.


Use an alternate system gimprc file.

-b, --batch=commands

Execute the set of commands non-interactively. The set of commands is typically in the form of a script that can be executed by one of the GIMP scripting extensions. When the command is -, commands are read from standard input.


Specify the procedure to use to process batch commands. The default procedure is Script-Fu.


Do not popup dialog boxes on errors or warnings. Print the messages on the console instead.


PDB compatibility mode (off|on|warn).


Debug in case of a crash (never|query|always).


Enable non-fatal debugging signal handlers. Useful for GIMP debugging.


Make all warnings fatal. Useful for debug.


Output a gimprc file with default settings. Useful if you messed up the gimprc file.


Use the designated X display (does not apply to all platforms).