How to Save Images as PNGs in GIMP

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XCF is the native file format of files you produce in GIMP, but it isn't suitable for use elsewhere. When you've finished working on an image in GIMP, you must save it to one of the many different standard formats that GIMP offers.

PNG files are increasingly popular for saving graphics for web pages. PNG stands for "portable networks graphics" and these files are saved in a lossless format, which means that changing the compression level will not affect their quality. When you save an image in PNG, it's guaranteed to appear at least as sharp as the original image. PNG files offer high capacity for transparency.

The steps necessary to produce PNG files in GIMP are very straightforward. These files are well suited for use in web pages that are to be viewed in modern browsers.

Save As Dialog

Click on the File menu and select either the Save As or Save a Copy command. Both do much the same thing, but the "Save As" command will switch to the new PNG file when saving has completed. The "Save a Copy" command will save a PNG but keep the original XCF file open in GIMP.
Now click on Select File Type. It appears just above the Help button when the dialog opens. Select PNG Image from the list of file types that are displayed, then click Save.

Export File Dialog

Some features aren't available in PNG files, such as layers. The "Export File" dialog will open when you attempt to save a file with any of these features. Using the default options is the best option for most users in this case, such as "Merge Visible Layers" in the case of layered files. Then click the Export button.

Save as PNG Dialog

Although using the default options is generally best at this stage, you can change some settings:

  • Interlace will load the PNG progressively within a web page.
  • Save Background Color allows you to specify the background color when the PNG being displayed in a browser doesn't support variable transparency – the background color in the toolbox is the color specified.
  • Save Gamma can help users display colors more accurately, but it can be safely ignored in most cases.
  • Save Layer Offset is also usually best overlooked.
  • Save Resolution shouldn't affect display in a web page, but it's generally saved by default.
  • Compression Level is best left at the full setting, which is 9. This won't affect image quality.


Some very old browsers don't fully support PNG files. This can lead to problems displaying some aspects of PNG images, such as lots of colors and variable transparency. If it's important to you that older browsers display your image with minimal problems, you may wish to go to Image > Mode > Indexed instead and reduce the number of colors to 256. This may have a marked effect on the appearance of the image, however.