The 5 Most Useful GIMP Keyboard Shortcuts

Speed up your work with these tips

GIMP has a large number of useful default keyboard shortcuts that speed up your workflow once you perfect them.

You can even set up your own keyboard shortcuts using GIMP's shortcut editor or by making use of GIMP's dynamic keyboard shortcuts.


GIMP offers a strong range of selection tools, but you need to deselect a selection after you've finished working with it. Rather than using the menu's Select > None option to remove the marching ants selection outline, you can press the keyboard shortcut Shift+Ctrl+A.

A screenshot of GIMP with the Select None keyboard shortcut highlightedx

This keyboard shortcut does not affect a floating selection. You can either add a new layer to anchor the selection or go Layer > Anchor Layer or Ctrl+H to merge it with the next layer down.

Use the Space Bar for Document Panning

Using the scroll bars to the right and bottom of the window to pan around the image when you're zoomed in on it can be slow, but there's a quicker way. Hold down the Space Bar and the cursor changes to the Move cursor. You can click the mouse button and drag the image in the window to pan to a different part of the image.

Don't forget the Display Navigation palette if you want a better sense of the overall context of the part of the image you're currently working on. This option can be turned off or set to Switch to the Move Tool in the Image Windows section of the GIMP preferences.

Zooming In and Out

Every GIMP user should get into the habit of using the zoom keyboard shortcuts to speed up the way they work with your images. The zoom shortcuts offer a quick way to zoom and navigate an image without going to the View menu or switching to the Zoom Tool if you have the Display Navigation palette open. 

  • Press the + (plus) key to zoom in incrementally.
  • Press the - (hyphen) key to zoom out in increments.
  • Press the 1 key to zoom to 100 percent, where one pixel in your image matches one pixel on your monitor.
  • Press Shift+Ctrl+E to fit the image to the window.

Fill Shortcuts

If you find that you want to add a solid fill to a layer or a selection, you can do this quickly from the keyboard rather than going to the Edit menu.

  • Press Ctrl+, (comma) to fill with the foreground color.
  • Press Ctrl+. (period) to fill with the background color.
A screenshot of GIMP with the Fill keyboard shortcuts highlighted

Default Colors

GIMP sets the foreground color to black and the background color to white by default. Although these are often the two colors you want to use, you can press the D key to reset these colors. You can also swap the foreground and background colors by pressing the X key.

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