Gimp Installation Guide – Step by Step

Thank you to Olga as the latest Guest Writer on Scraps of Mind. And don’t forget, the invitation to become a Guest Writer on Scraps of Mind is always open.

Olga digitally scrapbooks using the Gimp software which is an OpenSource (therefore FREE) graphics editing program which has much of the functionality of Photoshop.Gimp is probably not well known in the Scrapbooking world so this is a great opportunity to learn more about it. In this tutorial Olga will walk you step by step through the downloading and installation process for Gimp (which can be more complex than we’re used to with packaged products).And when you’ve enjoyed her article, why not click over and check out Olga’s blog 9990 Ways of Scrapbooking?

Gimp, the Free Graphics Editing Program

Gimp is what is called an Open Source program.

That means that the program has been created and developed by many people and if you have the right coding experience you can participate in the project and add more functionality to it. As it is also licensed under the GPL, you have access to the code and you can change it and even distribute the changes you have made without a problem.

It is also a free program and nowadays it is considered to have almost at the same level of Photoshop CS. It does not have all the features as Photoshop but it does have most of them and with a bit of effort you can get to do everything that you can do in Photoshop.

Gimp was first developed in the Linux environment, and for sometime it had a way of installing it that was a bit complicated and strange compared to other programs you install in Windows. Even though that has been made easier in the latest release of Gimp, 2.4, it continues to have some rules that are important to follow to get the most it.

If you are thinking of installing Gimp in your system, in my opinion, the best thing to do is to first download and organise all the pieces in a folder before starting to install anything.

Because the project is developed by a community of software developers and not a company you might have a problem finding drivers to print directly from Gimp (in my experience some Lexmark printers won’t recognise any output from Gimp, so trying to print directly from Gimp with some Lexmark printers won’t be possible). But that can be easily solved saving your work and opening your printer program and printing your jpg, or any other compatible file from it.

So without going into more technical details, here are links for all the main parts of the program follow by the steps in the installation.

Click on the thumbnails for larger screenshots.

Downloading Gimp

The project page is located in There has been a recent release of Gimp that is already in the Sourceforge website for download but it does not appear in the Project Page yet. Just follow the sequence of screenshots and the links highlighted in the screenshots and you will be able to download the right and newest version of Gimp in Windows.

tg-1.pngTo download the main part of the program go to this page in the Sourceforge website where the different downloads are located, click in the link highlighted link

tg-2.pngand you will get to a different page with two files. Follow the instructions in the screenshot and click on the first link offer with an .exe extension.

You will get a window asking you whether you want to download the program, in Firefox, or Run or Save the program in Windows. In both cases click in Save the program, wait for the download to finish and move your file to the folder created previously.

tg-3.png Go to the project page and the Windows section following this link and click in the Download link

tg-4.pngYou can also follow this direct link and scroll a bit more in that page you will see a section dedicated to the help files in Gimp.

There are several options,

  1. you can either download all the files in one go;
  2. download all the files in several parts if your connection is not very good or you have a dial-up connection;
  3. or you can also download the help file in English alone.

If you are not going to use any of the other help files I recommend you to only download the last one. In all the cases you will be redirected to a page in Sourceforge and ask whether you want to Save or Run the program. Just click in Save, wait until your download finishes and as before move your file to the folder you created at the beginning named Gimp.

Downloading the GAP Package

The next step is to download the GAP package. This part of the program is necessary if you want to make for instance animated blinkies or gifs.

tg-6.pngYou can also edit some video in it. To download this package or file go to this page in the Sourceforge website, scroll down the page a bit and click on the link highlighted in the screenshot.

Do not click on the other links as at least one of them is the first file you downloaded and the others are different versions of Gimp for either other operating systems, old Gimp versions, etc. You will be sent to another page in the same website where you will be given two files to download. Click the link with the .exe extension, the one highlighted in the screenshot.

tg-7.pngAs all the previous times you will be asked to Run or Save the file. Save it and move it to your file.

At this stage you have all the parts that are the Gimp.

Downloading the Ufraw Plugin

With the packages you have you can do almost everything, but you might want to deal with other files, like Raw files. If you have a digital camera, the most likely scenario is that if you don’t shoot in Raw format you have the alternative of shooting in Raw.

Gimp does not have the ability of dealing with that kind of files but as this is a community project someone created a program that can work either on its own or act as a plug-in within Gimp. That way without opening a new program you can open Raw files within Gimp and “develop” digital negatives or in other words, make a formatting to an extension that Gimp might be able to recognise.

The best plug-in to do this “developing” is UFraw, which can also work on its own without opening Gimp. UFraw will also allow you to make improvements to the photo, like modifying curves and levels and other basic editing within the plug-in and because you are making all those changes whilst still in Raw format you are not losing data in your photo.

There is also a bits problem with Gimp that UFraw helps to overcome as well: Gimp works with an 8 bit depth and UFraw works with 16 bits so any editings to your photos in UFraw will retain more data. The reason Gimp works in 8 bit is that the human eye can only see 8 bit depth colours, but computers do analyse and can “see” more data in your photos, and that is important when for instance, working with levels or curves and doing improvements to your photos. So if you shoot in Raw you might find it is better to do any editing in UFraw.

tg-8.pngTo download UFraw go to the following page in the Sourceforge website.

Other Packages to Download for Gimp

There are different packages to download depending of the Operating System and Linux distribution and some instructions about how to install it.

Scroll down the page until you reach the Windows download as shown in the screenshot and click in the link highlighted. You will be taken to the following page, as shown in the following screenshot, and click in the highlighted link. Save the file and move it to your folder.

PSPI Plug in Download

There is also another plug-in that you might find very useful and sure you will want to download once you start feeling confident with the program. This plug-in will enable you to actually install Photoshop compatible filters in Gimp and you will be able to install many free filters that will increase the functionality of Gimp and take it to the same level as Photoshop: the PSPI plug-in.

tg-9.pngYou can find it in this link, just scroll down the page and click in the link highlighted as shown in the screenshot. Save the file to your computer and once it has downloaded move it to your folder.

The GMP Plug-in

Finally, one Photoshop plug-in that I find extremely helpful is GML plug-in. It is a Photoshop and PaintShopPro compatible plug-in. In fact I found out about this plug-in surfing the Graphic Software section of the About website (more on this website in a following tutorial). And even though there is a similar tool in Gimp, in the latest version of Gimp I continue to prefer this plug-in to make extractions, as it is easier and you get great results with it.

tg-10.pngIt is a project developed in the Moscow State University and it is very similar to the Extraction Filter tool in Photoshop CS. You can find the filter and downloaded free in this link . Just click in the highlighted link, save it and move it to your folder. In the page, in English you can read more information about the plug-in, the way it works and the results you can get with it.

There are many more places where you can find Photoshop compatible filters for free, some of them fantastic, and there is also the option of downloading Gimp specific plug-ins and scripts but I consider that to be something you could do after installing Gimp and after you have been for a while getting familiar with the program.

We will talk about all Photoshop and Gimp specific plug-ins and tutorials in a second tutorial, as well as providing a list of useful websites to find information relating to Gimp and books you might be interested in.

What next?

Even though, it could take a while to go through this process everything you have downloaded up to now is free and it will give you almost the same functionality as Photoshop CS. So there is some walking around but considering that all is free, it’s really worth it.

At this stage you should have the following files in the folder you created at the beginning of the tutorial.

  1. gimp-2.4.3-i686-setup-1.exe
  2. gimp-gap-2.2.0-setup.exe
  3. gimp-help-2-0.13-eng-setup.exe
  4. ufraw-0.13-setup-no-sse.exe
  5. gimp-pspi-1.0.5.win32 (This file will download in a Zip file form, extracted it and keep it in folder it comes)
  6. GMLMatting0.3_setup.exe


The Gimp Installation Process

Now is the moment to proceed with the installation process and it’s important to follow the order I outline as otherwise Gimp would not recognise the different parts.

  1. First double click in the first .exe file (gimp-2.4.3-i686-setup-1.exe) and follow the installation instructions from Windows.
    Do not try to change anything and try to customize, just click in Install Now after the first two Nexts.
    The program will install and the last screen would actually give the chance to launch Gimp, untick that option if you do not wish to launch the program.
  1. Next, if you have opened the program, close it by going to the left pane and go to File>Quit.
  2. With the program closed double click in your second .exe file (gimp-gap-2.2.0-setup.exe).
    Follow the prompts, click Next and click Install.
    When GAP is installed you will have the option of reading a txt file relating to the plug-in.
    Uncheck that option or close the txt file.
  3. Next, again with Gimp closed, double click in the third .exe file (gimp-help-2-0.13-eng-setup.exe) and follow the prompts.
    Click Next, Install and Finish.

Now install the UFraw plug-in.

  1. Close Gimp if it’s open.
  2. Double click in the fourth .exe file (ufraw-0.13-setup-no-sse.exe).
  3. Click Next until you reach the following screenshot.
  4. You will be given several options many of them referring to raw files and others regarding the creation of shortcuts.
    If you don’t want a shortcut in your desktop or a Quicklaunch icon untick.
    If you are not sure I recommend you to just uncheck the Quicklaunch icon. The shortcut could easily be deleted if you don’t want it.
  5. If you don’t have any other image editing program with raw capability, do not uncheck any other option in that screen.
  6. Click Next and Install.
  7. Don’t change any other installation presets than the shortcut, Quicklaunch icon, and raw formats if you have another program with raw capabilities.
  8. The last screen will give you the option of launching UFraw.
    Uncheck if you do not wish to launch the program.
    If you want to launch the program a screen leave the box checked and the program would launch automatically.

tg-12.pngYou will see this screen.
Just navigate to where your My Pictures folder or any other folder where you have a raw document and Open it. You will see your document inside this interface with several options for editing and a button to launch Gimp.

tg-13.pngClick Cancel or the red cross on the right top corner and click Quit after you take a look.

Now install the PSPI plug-in

This will enable Photoshop compatible plug-ins to work in Gimp.

tg-14.pngNavigate down the folders until you reach the following file “pspi.exe“. Make a copy of that file and enable the folders view in Windows by clicking in Folders icon on top of your screen as shown in the screenshot.

On the left pane you will see a tree of folders with different areas of your computer and crosses next to the different Folders.

Click on the crosses next to My Computer, Local Disk, and Program Files in a consecutive manner.

Once Program Files displays on the left pane you would see a list of folders with the names of programs you have in your computer.

tg-15.pngUsing the bar between the two panes, scroll down that list until you reach the Gimp folder in the same way as in the next screenshot.

Click in the cross on the left of the Gimp folder to see its contents on the left pane and click in the following crosses as per the next screenshot.

tg-16.pngClick on the plug-ins folder (it’s a link, if you put your cursor over it, it will turn out blue and underline) and would navigate to that folder appearing its contents on the right pane of your open window. Paste the PSPI plug-in there and close your window.

tg-17.pngFinally, go back to your Gimp folder and double click in the fifth .exe file (GMLMatting0.3_setup.exe). Click Next, on the first, second and third windows. You will get to the following screen as per screenshot.

tg-18.pngClick on Browse, you will get the following screen, click in the cross on the left of Program Folders as before

tg-19.pngtg-20.pngThe list of programs in your computer would appear. Using the scroll bar on the right, navigate to the folder Gimp 2.0 and as in the previous point click on the cross until your reach the plug-ins folder. See the screenshots

tg-21.pngClick on your plug-ins name folder, the path to the folder would appear on the top bar. Click Ok and Next, in the next two windows. Finally click Install.

The plug-in would install in the folder. You would be given the option of seeing the help file on ending installation. Either uncheck or take a look at it and close.

Launch Gimp

Hooray!! After all this, you are ready to launch Gimp.

Double click in the shortcut in your desktop. You will see something similar to the following two screenshots.

tg-22.pngClotg-23.pngse the Tip of the day window and navigate to the Menu as in the following screenshot.

tg-24.pngCheck that the path to your plug-ins folder is the same as in image, click OK. A warning would tell you that the path would be used the next time Gimp opens. If the path was the same as in the image above, there is no need to restart Gimp.

You have now a quite functional Gimp with lots of goodies for you to start playing if you wish.

Just take a look at the different options and play around.

The next tutorial would cover resources, from different filters and scripts unique to Gimp (where to find them, how to install them, etc) to Photoshop compatible filters (actions cannot be installed in Gimp, though) and where can you find some of the later for free (and some of my favourite ones).

Also resources to learn on your own, free books you can download or access in the web as the classic “Grokking the Gimp”, books from Amazon you can buy (already links in my blog), and recommendations for websites to find tutorials specific to Gimp and information about Gimp, plus videos with instructions you can find in YouTube (I’m preparing a playlist with a selection of all the videos, I believe, are the most interesting in YouTube) and blogs by people that use Gimp.

To give you a taste of people that do digital scrapbooking using Gimp, you can visit my blog, but another one that belongs to a selling designer (she designs in Gimp) can be found in the following link Scrapping till the cows come home. There you can see what you can obtain using Gimp. There is also a tutorial covering Gimp’s interface and the different tools.

This tutorial has been prepared using the very latest version of Gimp released the 21st of January, 2008. Also several of the files have been very recently released (such as GML (January, 2008), UFraw (13th of Nov, 2007), Gimp 2.43 (21st of January, 2008), and the help files from August, 2007. The most current version in English of the help manual can be found online here.

You can read more from Olga and check out her Freebies on the 9999 Ways of Scrapbooking blog.

Note: Olga no longer maintains the 9990 Ways of Scrapbooking blog so all links there have been disabled.

Other articles you might like:

Increase your Scrapbooking Profile by becoming a Guest Writer on Scraps of Mind

How to use Textures in Digital Scrapbooking

Podcast Interview with the Founder of Digital Scrap WIKI

14 Responses to Gimp Installation Guide – Step by Step

  1. ~Heather W~ February 13, 2008 at 2:28 am #

    Wow, that looks so complex, I wonder how I muddled through it on my own?! Heh. It’s really not bad, I was just so excited to see someone mentioning GIMP that I had to respond. I still do most of my digital scrapbooking in PSE, but use GIMP for a lot of photo editing where PSE lacks some functions, and am starting to explore it when scrapbooking for the same reason.

    I had tried GIMP years ago, before PSE, and was hopelessly lost, but retried it not too long ago with PSE under my belt and it all made a lot more sense.

  2. Olga February 13, 2008 at 9:41 am #

    Thanks Karooch for giving me the chance of being a guest writer and many thanks for doing the formatting for the tutorial. It looks terrific. :D

    The tutorial might look a bit complicated as it’s a step by step process. I wrote thinking on people that might want to start scrapbooking and want to try a free program. I have tried to add some plugins that will add more functionality to the program and make it even closer to Photoshop. The extraction tool plugin works wonderfully well and you get very crisp extractions with it. As the Gimp is kind of a puzzle when you install it you might get lost in the process. If you already have some experience in Photoshop or PSE you will find it’s very similar to those programs, and in fact you can adapt most of Photoshop tutorials to Gimp without major problems.

    It’s great to hear from someone that uses PSE and Gimp and actually says Gimp is better, ;) It’s one of the closest programs to CS2 and it’s free so I think it’s a great program for anyone that wants to give it a go to digital scrapbooking.

    Thanks so much for the opportunity karooch and best wishes. :O)

  3. karooch February 13, 2008 at 6:23 pm #

    Thank you for a great tutorial Olga. It is very detailed but if I was wanting to install GIMP I’d want a detailed ‘hand holding’ guide too.

  4. Olga February 14, 2008 at 5:33 am #

    I’m not sure if I understand well “hand holding” but if it means to be there helping someone to install Gimp, it’s not possible for me to be in a physical way with someone installing the program, but I’m available in a virtual way to help anyone interested. There is an email in my blog-website for anyone to contact me and I can be there using instant messaging guiding anyone. I might consider to prepare a screencast covering the details in a more visual way, if anyone is interesting, or prepare a less fully fledged installation guide.
    You can get great programs covering almost everything you need in a computer for free, you are going unfortunately to do some work on your own, there is a reason for quality programs to be free, but it’s not that difficult, if I could install Gimp on my own anyone can, and if I’ve learnt anyone can learnt to use it. It can look daunting but you are always going to find someone available to help, and that’s one of the great things of opensource: you always find someone ready to help you.
    Thanks so much for the opportunity and best wishes. :O)

  5. Tink February 14, 2008 at 9:40 am #

    Thanks Olga for such and enlightening article and guide. I may have to give gimp a try if I ever get my computer working properly again.

  6. karooch February 14, 2008 at 7:07 pm #

    I think Olga’s really raised the profile on Gimp with this article. Given the price of Photoshop CS compares to Gimp (free), I’d be really interested to hear if any readers have a go at installing and scrapbooking using it.

  7. JoLynn Braley February 15, 2008 at 11:11 am #

    I love Gimp, I use it on my laptop while I use Photoshop on my desktop. I haven’t installed the Photoshop plugins though so I’ll use this tutorial to get that done. Very very useful article, thanks a lot Olga!

  8. sam February 29, 2008 at 4:02 am #

    do you know how to install gimp in a different directory than “Program Files” on windows ?


  9. karooch February 29, 2008 at 6:48 pm #

    I’ll have to leave that one to Olga, Sam.

  10. Olga March 14, 2008 at 7:59 pm #

    Hi Sam,
    sorry to so late answering this one but when you are installing Gimp you will be asked whether you want to install Gimp in the Program Files directory and giving the chance and browse to any other one of your convenience. I didn’t offer that option in the tutorial as I most people install their programs in that directory but you can always change the directory in that moment. It’s the same process as with any other program, it follows the same rules in that regard as all the programs I have ever installed in Windows, so if you already have installed other programs in other directories it would be the same. There is no difference in the installation process to any other windows program.

    I hope this helps and sorry for being so late answering this one.

    Best wishes.:O)

  11. Printer Supplies August 13, 2008 at 3:31 am #

    Thanks for the informative post.. and thanks for adding our comment to the blog. I searched for a while to find the right answer to my questions!

  12. Leslie December 12, 2008 at 12:16 am #

    Question: I use PSE and have installed GIMP, but can’t find a “tray” at the bottom of my screen to collect opened elements. Maybe I have an older version (I have Gimp 2.2) and a tray has been added.



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