Add a Text Watermark in GIMP

Image with Route 66 marker superimosed
Martyn Goddard/Getty Images

Applying a text watermark in GIMP to your photos is a simple way to help protect any images that you post online. It isn't foolproof, but it will deter most casual users from stealing your photos. There are applications available that are specifically designed for adding watermarks to digital images, but if you're a GIMP user, it is very easy to use the application to add a watermark to your photos.

Add Text to Your Image

First, you need to type in the text that you wish to apply as a watermark.

Select the ​Text Tool from the Tools palette and click on the image to open the GIMP Text Editor. You can type your text into the editor and the text will be added to a new layer in your document.​

To type a © symbol on Windows, you can try pressing Ctrl+Alt+C. If that doesn't work and you have a number pad on your keyboard, you can hold the Alt key and type 0169. On OS X on a Mac, type Option+C – the Option key is generally marked Alt

Adjust the Text Appearance

You can change the font, size, and color using the controls in the Tool Options palette that appears below the Tools palette.

In most cases, you will be best advised to set the font color to black or white, depending upon the part of the image where you will place your watermark. You could make the text quite small and place it in a position where it doesn't interfere too much with the image. This does serve the purpose of identifying the copyright owner, but may be open to abuse by less reputable people who may just crop the copyright notice from the picture. You can make this more difficult by using GIMP's opacity controls.

Making Text Transparent

Making text semi-transparent opens up the option of using larger text and placing it in a more prominent position without obscuring the image. It is harder for anyone to remove this type of copyright notice without adversely affecting the image.

First, you should increase the size of the text using the Size control in the Tool Options palette. If the Layers palette isn't visible, go to Windows > Dockable Dialogs > Layers. You can click on your text layer to ensure it is active and then slide the Opacity slider to the left to reduce the opacity. In the image, you can see that we've shown semi-transparent text colored white and black to demonstrate how different colored text can be used depending on the background where the watermark is placed.