How To Save an Image as a PNG in Gimp

Saving image files as PNG is an important feature in any image editor. PNGs offer much more flexibility than other popular formats. Unlike program-specific project file formats, they can also be opened with any image editor.

Thus, Gimp users might be surprised if they don’t see the option to save their image as PNG using their app’s save command. Does Gimp support PNGs? How to save an image as PNG with this program? Read on to learn all about the topic.

Export your image as a PNG

Gimp is a popular free alternative to image editor giants like Adobe Photoshop. Although the latter uses PSD as the default file format, Gimp files are saved in XCF. This file format is essential for anyone wanting to get the most out of their Gimp as it preserves all the layer and other crucial information in the file. You can save your project and pick up where you left off or adjust details before finishing them, thanks to the XCF format.

That said, the XCF format is not without its drawbacks. While you can open PSD files with Gimp and several other apps, you cannot open XCF files with Photoshop and other image editors. That’s why it’s critical to save your project in a file format that’s compatible with other platforms.

Since version 2.8, Gimp’s Save menu only allows you to save files in XCF format. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t create other file formats in this app. Instead of saving the file, you need to export it. Here’s how to export your project as a PNG file in Gimp.

  1. Launch the Gimp app and open your project by clicking “File” then “Open…”
  2. Select the file you want to save as PNG and import it. After opening the image, click on “File” and you will find the option “Export as…”. You can also simultaneously press your Shift, Ctrl, and E keys on Windows or Shift, Command, and E on Mac to open the export window.
  3. Choose where to save your file.
  4. Expand the “Select file type” option at the bottom of the window and select “PNG image” from the list. You can also type “.png” at the end of your file’s name to get the same result.
  5. Press “Export”.

The “Export image as PNG” window appears. You can adjust various settings here to fine-tune your PNG. Nevertheless, the default settings are fine if you don’t have a particular preference. Click “Export” and enjoy your PNG.

If you want to adjust your settings, here are some things you can adjust in the Export window. Most options are related to the file’s metadata and have no actual impact on the quality of your image.

  • Check “Interlacing” if you want the PNG to load progressively on a web page.
  • Change the compression level to reduce the file size of your PNG.
  • The “Save Background Color” option defines a background color for your PNG when variable transparency is not supported.
  • “Save Gamma” increases color accuracy in browsers.

Save your PNG with transparency

One of the biggest advantages of PNG files is that they provide multi-level transparency. With the default export settings, your image will retain this quality. If your saved PNGs don’t display transparently, you may have skipped a critical step. Here’s how to save a file as PNG with transparency in Gimp.

  1. Open the Gimp app.
  2. Click “File” and then “Open” to import your project.

First, the file must have an alpha channel to take advantage of transparency. Look at the Channels dialog to see if your image has one. If there is no alpha channel in the list, add one.

  1. Click on “Layer” in the menu bar.
  2. Move your cursor over ‘Transparency’.
  3. Select ‘Add Alpha Channel’.

If the file has multiple layers, disable the background layer for a transparent background. In the case of a flat image with a background, you must first remove the background. There are many ways to do this, depending on the complexity of the image. Follow these steps to remove a simple background.

  1. Choose the Fuzzy Select tool from your toolbar.
  2. Click on the background to select it.
  3. Press your “Delete” button.

To get a smoother result, you can try the following method.

  1. Select the background with the selection tool of your choice.
  2. Click on “Colors” in the menu bar.
  3. Choose ‘Color to Alpha’.

You will see a checkered background indicating transparency. Now it’s time to export the image.

  1. Click “File” and then “Export As…” or press “Shift+Ctrl+E” on Windows or “Shift+Command+E” on Mac.
  2. Select a location for your PNG file.
  3. Type “.png” at the end of the file name or browse to “PNG image” under “Select file type”.
  4. Click “Export” and do it again in the PNG dialog box.

The default settings ensure that your image is transparent. If you’re not sure if your settings are default, check out Gimp’s recommendations.

When to save your project as PNG

When you are done with your project, it is essential to export the file in the correct format. PNGs are some of the most versatile image formats out there. Not only do they provide lossless compression, but they also provide multi-level transparency. Saving your work as PNG is often a better option than going for JPEG, especially if you plan on re-editing the image. A PNG won’t lose its quality even if it’s edited multiple times, so you can tweak your project in the 11th hour without compromising on quality.

That said, PNGs have some drawbacks, so they aren’t the most appropriate image format in all cases. Although their size is smaller than other formats and may seem insignificant at first, storing many large PNGs will quickly take up disk space. Large-scale, high-resolution PNGs can also pose a challenge for image editors. Attempting to export a voluminous high-compression PNG can slow down your PC or even crash your program. Don’t risk losing your job. If you are editing a large image, save your final project as XCF before attempting the export process.

Learn to export as PNG

While Gimp’s special file format is useful for keeping projects editable, its compatibility is limited. Fortunately, you can save your file in PNG using the program’s “Export” feature to create a high-quality, lossless image with transparency.

Did you convert your file to PNG by following the steps above? Do you have any additional tips on exporting PNGs to share? Let us know in the comments below.

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