GIMP: Saver and Save/export clean plug-ins

(for those who don't like the GIMP 2.8 Save vs. Export separation)

In GIMP 2.8, the developers changed the way you save files. "Save" is now used only for GIMP's native format, XCF (and compressed variants like .xcf.gz and .xcf.bz2). Other formats that may lose information on layers, fonts and other aspects of the edited image must be "Exported" rather than saved.

This has caused much consternation and flameage on the gimp-user mailing list. I can't link to all the threads, but you can find them in the gimp-user archives starting in early-May of 2012 and continuing for years afterward.

[Screenshot: GIMP Saver-as... plug-in] Hoping for a productive solution rather than more flame wars, I wrote a quick save plug-in, "Save/export clean", which will save to any format, including XCF.

But I found that I wasn't using Save/export clean much myself, and eventually, I wrote a more general plug-in called Saver. That's what I'm currently using myself. In addition to overwriting the current image's name (like Save/export clean does), Saver has a couple of nice options:

Both Saver and Save/export clean mark the image as clean, so you won't get an "unsaved images" warning when you quit just because you've saved to JPG and not XCF.

Beware! Neither plug-in does much hand-holding like asking whether you want to saver over an existing file: it's easy to overwrite existing files, so be careful.


Get the latest version of the plug-ins here:

Click on "Raw", then save the resulting file, or, to your GIMP plug-ins folder. To find your plug-in folder, go to Preferences and expand the Folders category (at the bottom of the left panel), then click on Plug-ins to see two folders: the systemwide plug-in folder and your personal one.

On Linux and Mac you'll need to make it executable: chmod 755 or the equivalent from your file manager.

You must have GIMP Python working -- the plug-in needs to be able to display a file selection dialog so you can choose a filename if your image doesn't already have one, and script-fu can't do that.

Saver will show up in your File menu as Saver and Saver as...
Save-export clean will show up in your File menu as Save-export clean.

You can even bind it to Ctrl-S, or Shift-Ctrl-S, if you want. But keep in mind that that makes it easy to overwrite an original JPEG: use at your own risk. Here's how to rebind keys in GIMP: Creating Shortcuts to Menu Functions in the official GIMP manual. Personally I use the Dynamic method -- I find it much easier than the shortcut editor.

Geoffrey De Belie posted on the gimp-developer mailing list about how he hides the original save and export menu items. I don't necessarily recommend that myself (I still use the normal Save and Export sometimes), but it's possible if you want to do it. Geoffrey's instructions are for Linux, but Brian Keith tells me that on Windows, you can use \Program Files\GIMP2\share\gimp\2.0\menus\image-menu.xml instead.

I hope you enjoy Saver and Save/export clean, and I hope it helps your GIMP workflow.

Removing other Save-related menus

For those who find it confusing having both old and new menu items in the File menu, Geoffrey De Belie has written a description of how to Hide menu items in the GIMP user interface by editing an XML file.


I announced Save/Export clean on the gimp-user list on August 11, and wrote a longer discussion of my own workflow on my blog a few weeks later, GIMP: Re-uniting Save and Export. I haven't changed much except for tiny bug fixes.

I wrote Saver in November of 2013 and have been using tweaking it since then, but I didn't formally announce it until November of 2014: Plugin for the 2.8 save vs. export behavior.

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