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GIMP GNU – Photo Editing Review

GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)

GIMP is a free alternative to using Photoshop or other more expensive photo editing tools. It’s a quick 200+ MB download that’s easy to install. My review is specific to the Mac version. When I first started the program I was not impressed. Photoshop takes about 20 seconds to start on my machine but displays a loading screen while I wait, GIMP did not provide a loading screen and I was left to wonder if the program was going to work. GIMP opens two programs: the branded GIMP program and X11 which is the program that GIMP was built on.

GIMP User Interface

Three windows are opened: One for the layers, another for the file, and another for tools.
This creates issues. For example, when I go to shut off a layer after choosing a tool I have to click twice, once to activate the layers window and again to turn off the layer.


Photo Editor Revew

I’m a huge fan of shortcuts, so I found out pretty quick that undo isn’t the standard command+z as it is in other programs for mac, it’s control+z. Kind of a pain, same goes for “save as” and I’m sure loads of other shortcuts. Another good example of where this program fails is when I added some text and then wanted to move the text. As I hovered over the text, it gives me the move icon. Clicking then brings up the box to edit the text. If you ignore the edit screen you can move the text around but it’s a simple bug that should be fixed.


The key to a good program is that it doesn’t make me think. GIMP has failed that test. If you just want a program that can get the job done for free then it will pass for a lot of projects. One essential element that I found to be missing was having transparent layers. It’s possible that the program does support transparent layers, but I could not find the option and decided that the software wasn’t worth the time. I can’t recommend this software as I believe you’ll loose much more money in time trying to get it to work normally than you would just paying the flat rate (around $100) for software that works properly and is much more powerful.


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  1. The fact that GIMP is open source and free is important in so many ways; not just because it’s convenient, but because of the implications that has for access to both developers and users.Yes, it has/has had some bugs. However, those bugs are constantly being fixed. I had major issues with GIMP when this article was written, for example, in 2011. However, I’ve recently gone back to it and had major success using the MAC 2.8 version. Give it a shot!

  2. Well, I see you have already received some comments relative to GIMP. I have been using GIMP since it came out a few years back and I use it with a Gnu/Linux op system. It does take a bit of time to really get along with it, but this is certainly true of PS and others. Gimp is an open source program and totally free. I highly reccomend it to everyone that might have problems purchasing the expensive PhotoShop.

  3. I’ve used gimp for many years and I love it. I use it on my work PC and on my home mac. It absolutely does have transparent layers. I FULLY recommend the program.

  4. Using Ctrl+ Instead of Command+ Shortcuts is standard for most X11-based programs on a Mac. This is because X11 runs on many computers – most of which do not have a Command/Apple key. The shortcut keys are familiar to people who use other programs on whichever platform they’re using (be it Windows or X11).

    As for the capabilities of GIMP, I haven’t used it on Mac recently but on Linux and Windows it’s been suitable for my needs, as well as for the more simple needs my parents have.

  5. I have been using gimp now and then for several years. I use it in it’s native environment meaning I use Linux.
    Gimp is a very good program. It can create animations as well as be used for photo editing. Gimp is included when you install Linux versions such as mepis and pcLinuxOs to your hard drive.
    With gimp it is easy to remove blemishes and other marks from your digital photos.

  6. @soraya Sorry you found the review to be unfair. There could have been some differences in the startup between the PC and Mac versions. The majority of my pain in using GIMP was the shortcuts, and I understand that it’s mostly the difference between PC & Mac shortcuts and GIMP decided to do them differently than most other programs.

  7. I found this review to be quite unfair; i have gimp, although not the mac version so maybe that makes a difference, but any software you have to get used to to work effeciently in, as i am used to gimp i am sure that it is much more cost effecttive and faster for me than if i would purchase another editing program. As to opening it not only does a window showing the progress of the load pop up, it only takes a few seconds. As to the layers, the only photoshop feature that i have encountered that it doesn’t have is adjustment layers; regular layers, yes, with a place for setting transparency and mode (overlay,ect.)


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