6.6. Text

Figure 14.187. The Text tool in Toolbox

The Text tool in Toolbox

The Text tool places text into an image. With GIMP-2.8, you can write your text directly on the canvas. No Text Editor is needed anymore (although you can still use it if you want by checking the Use editor option in the Tool Options dialog. A text toolbar has been added which allows you to edit text in different ways but you can still go on using the Text Option dialog, to change the font, color and size of your text, and justify it, interactively. Right clicking on the frame opens a context menu that allows you to copy, cut, paste, load a text...

As soon as you type your text, it appears on the canvas in a rectangular frame. If you draw the rectangular frame first, the text is automatically adapted to the frame size. You can enlarge this frame as you do with rectangular selections.

To move the text on canvas, you have to select the Move tool and click on a character to drag the frame and its text.

6.6.1. Activating the Tool

You can access this tool in several ways:

  • In the image menu through ToolsText,

  • by clicking the tool icon in Toolbox,

  • or by using the T keyboard shortcut.

6.6.2. Options

Figure 14.188. Text tool options

Text tool options

Normally, tool options are displayed in a window attached under the Toolbox as soon as you activate a tool. If they are not, you can access them from the image menu bar through WindowsDockable WindowsTool Options which opens the option window of the selected tool.


Click on the fonts button to open the font selector of this tool, which offers you a list of installed X fonts.

At the bottom of the font selector you find some icons which act as buttons for:

  • resizing the font previews,

  • selecting list view or grid view,

  • opening the font dialog.

Choose a font from the installed fonts. When you select a font it is interactively applied to your text.

[Tip] Tip

You can use the scroll wheel of your pointing device (usually your mouse) on the fonts button in order to quickly change the font of your text (move the pointer on the fonts button, and don't click, just use the wheel button).


This control sets the size of the font in any of several selectable units.

Use editor

Use an external editor window for text editing instead of direct-on-canvas editing.


Antialiasing will render the text with much smoother edges and curves. This is achieved by slight blurring and merging of the edges. This option can radically improve the visual appearance of the rendered typeface. Caution should be exercised when using antialiasing on images that are not in RGB color space.


Uses the index of adjustment of the font to modify characters in order to produce clear letters in small font sizes.


Color of the text that will be drawn next. Defaults to black. Selectable from the color picker dialog box that opens when the current color sample is clicked.

[Tip] Tip

You can also click-and-drag the color from the Toolbox color area onto the text.


Causes the text to be justified according to any of four rules selectable from the associated icons.


Controls the indent spacing from the left margin, for the first line.

Line Spacing

Controls the spacing between successive lines of text. This setting is interactive: it appears at the same time in image text. The number is not the space between lines itself, but how many pixels must be added to or subtracted from this space (the value can be negative).

Letter Spacing

Controls the spacing between letters. Also in this case the number is not the space itself between letters, but how many pixels must be added to or subtracted from this space (the value can be negative).


Concerns the text box. The associated drop down list offers two options:

Dynamic: default option. The size of the text box increases as you type. Text may go out of the image. You have to press the Enter key to add a new line. The indent option indents all lines. If you increase the box size, the option turns to "Fixed".

Fixed: you must enlarge the text box first. Else, usual shortcuts are active! The text is limited by the right side of the box and continues on next line. This is not true new line: you must press the Enter key to add a real new line. The text may go out the lower border of the image. The indent option works on the first line only.

6.6.3. The Text tool context menu

You get this menu by right clicking in a text frame with handles.

  • Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete: these options concern a selected text. They remain grayed out as long as no text is selected. Paste is activated if the clipboard is full of text.

  • Open text file: this command opens a file browser where you can find the wanted text file.

  • Clear: this command deletes all the text, selected or not.

  • Path from text: this command creates a path from the outlines of the current text. The result is not evident. You have to open the Path dialog and make path visible. Then select the Path tool and click on the text. Every letter is now surrounded with a path component. So you can modify the shape of letters by moving path control points.

    This command is similar to LayerText to Path.

  • Text along path:

    This option is enabled only if a path exists. When your text is created, then create or import a path and make it active. If you create your path before the text, the path becomes invisible and you have to make it visible in the Path Dialog.

    This command is also available from the Layer menu:

    Figure 14.189.  The Text along Path command among text commands in the Layer menu

    The Text along Path command among text commands in the Layer menu

    This group of options appears only if a layer text exists.

    If you want to use a text that already exists, make it active in the Layer dialog, select the Text tool and click on the text in the image window.

    Click on the Text along Path button. The text is bent along the path. Letters are represented with their outline. Each of them is a component of the new path that appears in the Path dialog. All path options should apply to this new path.

    Figure 14.190. Text along Path example

    Text along Path example
    Text along Path example

  • From Left to Right / From Right to Left: fix the writing direction of your language.

6.6.4. Text Editor

Figure 14.191. The Text Editor

The Text Editor

With GIMP-2.8, this text editor is available only if the Use editor option is checked. It persists probably because all its functions are not transferred to the direct-on-canvas mode, for instance the Unicode characters.

You can correct the text you are writing and you can change the text font with the Font Editor.

As soon as you start writing, a Text layer is created in the Layer Dialog. On an image with such a layer (the image you are working on, or a .xcf image), you can resume text editing by activating this text layer then clicking on it (double click). Of course, you can apply to this text layer the same functions you use with other layers.

To add another text to your image click on a non-text layer: a new Text Editor will appear and a new text layer will be created. To pass from a text to another one activate the corresponding text layer and click on it to activate the editor.

You can get Unicode characters with Ctrl+Shift+U plus hexadecimal Unicode code of the desired char, for example:

Figure 14.192. Entering Unicode characters

Entering Unicode characters


Entering Unicode characters

4 7

Entering Unicode characters


Of course this feature is more useful for entering special (even exotic) characters, provided that the required glyphs for these characters are supplied by the selected font — only few fonts support Klingon. ;-)

Unicode 0x47 (G), 0x2665, 0x0271, 0x03C0

The Text Editor options

Load Text from file

Text can be loaded from a text file by clicking the folder icon in the text editor. All the text in the file is loaded.

Clear all text

Clicking this icon clears the editor and the associated text on the image.

From left to right

This option causes text to be entered from left to right, as is the case with most Western languages and may Eastern languages.

From right to left

This option allows text to be entered from right to left, as is the case with some Eastern languages, such as Arabic (illustrated in the icon).

Use selected font

Default doesn't use the font you have selected in the Options dialog. If you want to use it, check this option.

[Note] Note

See also Section 3, “Text”.