How to Use the GIMP Keyboard Shortcut Editor

Change keyboard shortcuts and customize GIMP to better suit the way that you work

What to Know

  • Go to Edit > Preferences > Interface > Configure Keyboard Shortcuts.
  • Find the tool or command that you want to edit and select it. Press the key(s) to assign as a shortcut.
  • To remove a keyboard shortcut, select it and press the backspace key.

This article explains how to use the GIMP keyboard shortcut editor. The instructions apply to GIMP for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

How to Use the GIMP Keyboard Shortcut Editor

Follow the steps below to start customizing GIMP to better suit the way that you work.

  1. Select the Edit menu and select Preferences.

    If your version of GIMP has a Keyboard Shortcuts option in the Edit menu you can select that and skip the next step.

    A screenshot of GIMP with Preferences under the Edit menu highlighted
  2. In the Preferences dialog, select the Interface option in the list to the left – it should be the second option. From the various settings that are now presented, select the Configure Keyboard Shortcuts button.

    A screenshot of GIMP preferences with the Interface heading and Configure Keyboard Shortcuts option highlighted
  3. A new dialog is opened and you can open sub-sections, such as the various Tools, by clicking the small box with a + sign in it next to each section name.

  4. Now, you need to scroll to the tool or command that you want to edit and select it. When selected, the text for that tool in the Shortcut column changes to read New accelerator and you can press the key or combination of keys you want to assign as a shortcut.

    A screenshot of the Configure Keyboard Shortcuts screen in GIMP with the New Accelerator field highlighted
  5. We've changed the Foreground Select Tool's keyboard shortcut to Shift+Ctrl+F by pressing the Shift, Ctrl and F keys simultaneously. If you want to remove a keyboard shortcut from any tool or command, just select it and then when the New accelerator text displays, press the backspace key and the text will change to Disabled.

    A screenshot of GIMP's "Configure Keyboard Shortcuts" screen with a Disabled status highlighted
  6. Once you're happy that your GIMP keyboard shortcuts are set up as you wish, ensure that the Save keyboard shortcuts on exit checkbox is checked and select Close.

    A screenshot of GIMP's "Configure Keyboard Shortcuts" screen with the "Save Keyboard shortcuts on exit" option and Close button highlighted

What Is the GIMP Keyboard Shortcut Editor?

If you want to add a keyboard shortcut to a feature that doesn't have one or change an existing shortcut to one that feels more intuitive to you, GIMP offers an easy way to do this using the Keyboard Shortcut Editor.

GIMP keyboard shortcuts can be useful tools for speeding up your workflow when working with GIMP. Many tools and features have keyboard shortcuts assigned by default, and you can see a list of the default options that are assigned to the Toolbox palette in Keyboard Shortcuts in GIMP.

Beware of Reassigning Existing Shortcuts

If you thought our choice of Shift+Ctrl+F was an odd selection, we chose it because it was a keyboard combination that hadn't already been assigned to any tool or command. If you try to assign a keyboard shortcut that is already in use, an alert will open telling you what the shortcut is currently being used for. If you want to keep the original shortcut, just select the Cancel button, otherwise, select Reassign shortcut to make the shortcut apply to your new selection.

GIMP conflicting keyboard shortcut

Don't Go Shortcut Crazy

Don't feel that every tool or command should have a keyboard shortcut assigned to it and that you need to memorize all of them. We all use applications like GIMP in different ways—often using different tools and techniques to achieve similar results—so concentrate on the tools that you use.

Taking some time to customize GIMP to work in a way that suits you can be a good investment of your time. A well thought out series of keyboard shortcuts can have a dramatic effect on your workflow.

Useful Tips

  • Try to analyze how you work and which tools you use on a regular basis, then look at assigning easily accessed keyboard combinations to these tools and commands only.
  • Don't be afraid to try out different shortcuts, or to reassign default shortcuts to new tools or commands. You can always easily reset the original default keyboard shortcuts in the User Interface panel of the Preferences dialog at any time.
  • Assigning shortcuts that are grouped together on the keyboard may mean you can select tools without moving your hand, but using shortcuts that are more spaced out may reduce the possibility of you selecting the incorrect tool. This will be down to personal preference.
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