How to Install GIMP Themes

Update the look of your favorite image editor

GIMP logo

La Manade/Flickr/CC BY 2.0 

Themes can be applied to the GIMP image editor to change the look of the whole program. Changing the GIMP theme is done through the Edit Preferences window, in the Interface Theme area. 

Menus and functionality will not change but the new appearance will provide a fresh look, and might even help spark some creativity or make editing easier. Some GIMP themes are made to change the color of the interface, and others are intended to mimic other programs like ​Adobe Photoshop.

However, only a few themes are included with GIMP by default, and the official GIMP website does not provide theme downloads. If you can't find the theme you want with an online search, try looking through Gnome-look.org or GitHub.

Extract the Theme Files

GIMP themes contain multiple files, so they're always downloaded in an archive, often a ZIP file. You have to extract the contents from the archive before you can apply the theme to GIMP.

  1. Locate the archive on your computer.

  2. Right-click it and choose Extract All.

    Install new themes in GIMP
    Ian Pullen
  3. Choose where to extract the files, and then click Extract.

Copy the Theme Folder to GIMP's Installation Folder

GIMP

With the GIMP theme extracted from its archive and ready to be used, it has to be copied to the correct folder within the GIMP installation directory so that the program will recognize it when it's time to select a theme.

  1. Copy the folder that was extracted. For example, if the files were extracted to a folder called gimp-dark, right-click it and click Copy.

    Because of how some themes are packaged, Windows might create one folder titled the name of the theme, and another folder inside of it that goes by the same name (e.g., a gimp-dark folder inside of another folder called gimp-dark). Copy the innermost folder, the one "closest" to the files.

  2. Open the GIMP themes folder, located here: C:\Program Files\GIMP 2\share\gimp\2.0\themes\.

    Linux users should put their themes in /usr/share/gimp/2.0/themes/.

  3. Right-click the empty space in the folder and click Paste.

If Windows prompts you to provide credentials for an administrator's account, click Continue. Linux users will need to either enter admin credentials after pressing Paste or use 'sudo' from the command line.

Switch to a Different Theme in GIMP

GIMP themes are listed in the Theme section of GIMP's preferences. It's there that you can pick any installed theme to apply to the program.

Close and reopen GIMP if it was open during the previous steps. Having the program remain active during the copy/paste procedure prevents it from showing themes in the settings.

  1. Press Edit in the menu bar.

  2. Select Preferences from the subsequent menu.

    GIMP edit menu
  3. Choose Theme from the left panel, directly under the Interface heading.

    GIMP theme preferences
  4. Select the theme you want to use with GIMP.

    GIMP with new theme applied

    Themes populate automatically, so you can click through the list to see how each of them makes the program appear.

  5. Press OK to finalize.