How to Export Files in GIMP

Learn How to Save Your Work in GIMP in Different Formats

Rafe Swan/Getty Images

GIMP's native file format is XCF which retains all the editable information of the files, such as layers and text information. That's great when you're working on a project and need to make amendments, but an XCF file isn't much use once you've finished your work and need to use your piece in a real context, such as a web page.

GIMP, however, is able to save to a wide range of different file formats, suitable for print or digital purposes. Some of the available formats are perhaps a little obscure for most of us, but there are a number of important and widely used file formats that we can produce from GIMP.

How to Export to Different File Types

  1. Have GIMP open with your completed image ready to export.

    GIMP with an open image
  2. Select File from the top menu. It's all the way in the top left corner of your screen.

  3. An extensive menu will open with available file operations. In GIMP, saving a file is reserved for its XCF format, which is mostly for projects in progress. It saves all the project data, like layers, so you can pick back up where you left off. To export a finished image, choose Export As...

    GIMP file menu
  4. GIMP will open a new window for you to export your image. At the top, you can choose the name of the file. If you know the file extension you want to export to, add it to the name of the file. GIMP will recognize that and export it.

    GIMP select export format

    If you want to pick from a list, of available formats, press Select File Type at the bottom of the window. That'll open a list of every format GIMP can export to. Choose the one you want to use.

  5. When you're ready press Export in the lower right of the window.

  6. Another small window will open, letting you choose a few options for your file format, including the level of compression.

    GIMP export choose compression
  7. GIMP will create the new file where you directed it to. You'll arrive back in your work space. At the top of the window, GIMP will now display the name of your file with "Exported" next to it.

File Format Options

As mentioned, some of the formats that GIMP offers are a little obscure, but there are several formats that are very well known and offer suitable options for saving work for print and for online use.

  • GIF – this is a popular format for saving relatively simple graphics for web pages
  • PNG – introduced as an alternative to GIFs, PNGs are a great high-res option.
  • JPEG/JPG – a versatile file type for saving images with adjustable compression settings to reduce file size at the expense of image quality
  • TIFF/TIF – a powerful image format that supports the option of compression

For most users, these few formats will cover all eventualities, allowing XCF files to be quickly and easily converted to an alternative file format, depending on how the image is to be finally used.