GIMP's native file format is XCF which retains all the editable information of the files, such as layers and text information. That's great when you're working on a project and need to make amendments, but an XCF file isn't much use once you've finished your work and need to use your piece in a real context, such as a web page.
GIMP, however, is able to save to a wide range of different file formats, suitable for print or digital purposes. Some of the available formats are perhaps a little obscure for most of us, but there are a number of important and widely used file formats that we can produce from GIMP.
How to Save Different File Types
Converting from XCF to another file type is very straight forward. In the File menu you can use the Save as and Save a copy commands to convert your XCF to a new format. These two commands differ in one way. Save as will convert the XCF file to a new format and leave the file open in GIMP, while Save a copy will convert the XCF file, but leave the XCF file open within GIMP.
Whichever command you choose, a similar window will open with options for saving your file. By default, GIMP uses the By Extension setting which means that as long as you use a supported file extension type, just adding the extension to the name of the file will automatically convert the XCF file to your desired file type.
You also have the option to select a file type from the list of supported formats. You can display the list by clicking on the Select File Type text that appears to the bottom of the window, just above the Help button. The list of supported file types will then be expanded and you can select the desired file type from there.
Which File Format to Choose?
As mentioned, some of the formats that GIMP offers are a little obscure, but there are several formats that are very well known and offer suitable options for saving work for print and for online use.
Note: All of the formats listed will require you to export your image and in most cases you will be best advised to use the default options offered in the Export File dialog.
- GIF – this is a popular format for saving relatively simple graphics for web pages
Saving Images as GIFs in GIMP | More About GIF Files
- PNG – introduced as an alternative to GIFs
Saving Images as PNGs in GIMP | More About PNG Files
- JPEG/JPG – a versatile file type for saving images with adjustable compression settings to reduce file size at the expense of image quality
Saving Images as JPEGs in GIMP | More About JPEG Files
- TIFF/TIF – a powerful image format that supports the option of compression
Saving Images as TIFFs in GIMP | More About TIFF Files
For most users, these few formats will cover all eventualities, allowing XCF files to be quickly and easily converted to an alternative file format, depending on how the image is to be finally used.