2.2.  Image Window

Figure 3.3.  A screenshot of the image window illustrating the important components

A screenshot of the image window illustrating the important components

In GIMP, each image that you have open is displayed in its own separate window. (In some cases, multiple windows may all display the same image, but this is unusual.) We will begin with a brief description of the components that are present by default in an ordinary image window. Some of these, in fact, can be made to disappear using commands in the View menu; but you will probably find that you don't want to do that.


Title Bar: At the top of the image window you will probably see a emphasis bar, showing the name of the image and some basic information about it. The emphasis bar is actually provided by the windowing system, not by GIMP itself, so its appearance may vary with different operating systems, window managers, and/or themes. In the Preferences dialog you can customize the information that appears here, if you want to.


Image Menu: Directly below the emphasis bar appears the Image Menu (unless it has been suppressed). This menu gives you access to nearly every operation you can perform on an image. (There are some “global” actions that can only be accessed via the Toolbox menu.) You can also get the Image Menu by right-clicking inside the image [1] , or by left-clicking on the little “arrow” symbol in the upper left corner, if for some reason you find one of these more convenient. More: most menu operations can also be activated from the keyboard, using Alt plus an “accelerator” key underlined in the menu emphasis. More: you can define your own custom shortcuts for menu actions, if you enable Use Dynamic Keyboard Shortcuts in the Preferences dialog.


Menu Button: Clicking on this little button gives you the Image Menu, except in a column instead of a row. Mnemonics users who don't want the menu bar visible can acces to this menu by pressing the Shift-F10 key.


Ruler: In the default layout, rulers are shown above and to the left of the image, indicating coordinates within the image. You can control what type of coordinates are shown if you want to. By default, pixels are used, but you can change to other units, using the Units setting described below.

One of the most important uses of rulers is to create guides. If you click on a ruler and drag into the image display, a guideline will be created, which you can use to help you position things accurately. Guides can be moved by clicking on them and dragging, or deleted by dragging them out of the image display.


QuickMask Toggle: At the lower left corner of the image display is a small button that toggles on or off the Quick Mask, which is an alternate, and often extremely useful, way of viewing the selected area within the image. For more details see QuickMask.


Pointer Coordinates: In the lower left corner of the window is a rectangular area used to show the current pointer coordinates (that is, the mouse location, if you are using a mouse), whenever the pointer is within the image boundaries. The units are the same as for the rulers.


Units menu: (This feature is new in GIMP 2.2; it does not appear in GIMP 2.0). By default, the units used for the rulers and several other purposes are pixels. You can change to inches, cm, or several other possibilities using this menu. (If you do, note that the setting of “Dot for dot” in the View menu affects how the display is scaled: see Dot for Dot for more information.


Zoom button: (This feature is new in GIMP 2.2; it does not appear in GIMP 2.0). There are a number of ways to zoom the image in or out, but this menu is perhaps the simplest.


Status Area: The Status Area appears below the image display. Most of the time, by default, it shows which part of the image is currently active, and the amount of system memory that the image is consuming. You can customize the information that appears here, by changing your Preferences. When you perform time-consuming operations, the status area changes temporarily to show what operation is being performed, and its state of progress.

[Note] Note

Note that the amount of memory consumed by the image is quite different from the image file size. For instance, a 69.7Kb .PNG image will occupy 246Kb in memory when displayed. Two reasons for that. First, image is reconstituted from the compressed .PNG file. Then, GIMP keeps a copy of the image in memory to be used by the Undo command.


Cancel Button: At the lower right corner of the window appears the Cancel button. If you start a complex, time-consuming operation (most commonly a plug-in), and then decide, while it is being computed, that you didn't really want to do it after all, this button will cancel it immediately.

[Note] Note

There are a few plug-ins that respond badly to being canceled, possibly leaving corrupted pieces of images behind.


Navigation control: This is a small cross-shaped button at the lower right corner of the image display. Clicking on it, and holding the left mouse button down, brings up a window showing a miniature view of the image (Navigation Preview), with the displayed area outlined. You can pan to a different part of the image by moving the mouse while keeping the button depressed. For large images of which only a small part is displayed, the navigation window is often the most convenient way of getting to the part of the image you are looking for. (See Navigation Dialog for other ways to access the Navigation Window). (If your mouse has a middle-button, click-drag with it to span across the image).


Inactive Padding Area: This padding area seperates the active image display and the inactive padding area, so you're able to distinguish between them. You cannot apply any Filters or Operations in generall on the inactive area.


Image Display: The most important part of the image window is, of course, the image display or canvas. It occupies the central area of the window, surrounded by a yellow dotted line showing the image boundary, against a neutral gray background. You can change the zoom level of the image display in a variety of ways, including the Zoom setting described below.


Image Window Resize Toggle: If this button is pressed, the image itself will be resized if the image window is resized.

[1] Users with an Apple Macintosh and a one button mouse can use Ctrl-mousebutton instead.