19.4. Saving Images

No image function is as important as File+Save. It is better to save too often than too rarely. Use File+Save as to save the image with a new filename. It is a good idea to save image stages under different names or make backups in another directory so you can easily restore a previous state.

When saving for the first time or using Save as, a dialog opens in which to specify the filename and type. Enter the filename in the field at the top. For Save in folder, select the directory in which to save the file from a list of commonly used directories. To use a different directory or create a new one, open Browse for other folders. It is recommended to leave Select File Type set to By Extension. With that setting, GIMP determines the file type based on the extension appended to the filename. The following file types are frequently useful:

XCF

This is the native format of the application. It saves all layer and path information along with the image itself. Even if you need an image in another format, it is usually a good idea to save a copy as XCF to simplify future modifications.

PAT

This is the format used for GIMP patterns. Saving an image in this format enables using the image as a fill pattern in GIMP.

JPG

JPG or JPEG is a common format for photographs and Web page graphics without transparency. Its compression method enables reduction of file sizes, but information is lost when compressing. It may be a good idea to use the preview option when adjusting the compression level. Levels of 85% to 75% often result in an acceptable image quality with reasonable compression. Saving a backup in a lossless format, like XCF, is also recommended. If editing an image, save only the finished image as JPG. Repeatedly loading a JPG then saving can quickly result in poor image quality.

GIF

Although very popular in the past for graphics with transparency, GIF is less often used now because of license issues. GIF is also used for animated images. The format can only save indexed images. The file size can often be quite small if only a few colors are used.

PNG

With its support for transparency, lossless compression, free availability, and increasing browser support, PNG is replacing GIF as the preferred format for Web graphics with transparency. An added advantage is that PNG offers partial transparency, which is not offered by GIF. This enables smoother transitions from colored areas to transparent areas (antialiasing).

To save the image in the chosen format, press Save. To abort, press Cancel. If the image has features that cannot be saved in the chosen format, a dialog appears with choices for resolving the situation. Choosing Export, if offered, normally gives the desired results. A window then opens with the options of the format. Reasonable default values are provided.