As you work in GIMP, you’ll be saving your image to ensure that in the event your program or computer accidentally shuts down your progress is saved. Saving your file while you work is generally a good habit to get into. With GIMP, this is a simple process.
There are three main ways to save your image in GIMP. You can go to File>Save, File>Save As, or File>Export As.
File>Save will save your image to the same file when you have already saved it once before. If you perform this action for this first time on a new image, a dialogue box will pop up asking where you would like to save your image on your computer and how you would like to name your image. This is the same dialogue box that will pop up if you go to File>Save As.
The default file type and native file format in GIMP is the .XCF file type. You will see in the image above, for example, that in the name field my file name is followed by .xcf (denoted by the red arrow in the photo above). XCF stands for eXperimental Computing Facility and will preserve your layers within GIMP even after you have closed the program. When working on a project with a file that contains layers, always save your file in the .XCF format in case you want to close your project and open it back up to work on it later without compressing all of your layers onto a single layer.
If you don’t quite understand layers yet or why they are important to preserve, I recommend checking out my tutorial covering the layers concept.
In the same photo above, you can also see the “Save in Folder” area, denoted by the blue arrow, which shows you the path on your computer where you are saving your file. In this case, I am saving my file within a folder called “Photos for GIMP Course” on my Desktop.
When you are ready to save your image, click save at the bottom right of the dialogue box.
Once you have saved your file, you can continue working and go to File>Save or hit ctrl+s on your keyboard to save your progress. You should get in the habit of doing this frequently.
If you want to export your image to a file type other than .XCF, you can go to File>Export As to export your file (shown in the image above).
This will bring you to a dialogue box very similar to the File>Save As dialogue box (shown in the picture above), though you will have more file types available to save your image as. For instance, you can save your file as a JPEG, PNG, or GIF file type from here, whereas you can’t do that in the File>Save As dialogue box. If you look at the red arrow in the image above, you will see that my file name now has the extension “.jpg” after it – meaning I can now export this file as a JPEG image file type.
To change the file type, go to the bottom of this dialogue box and click the “Save File Type (By Extension)” drop-down link (denoted by the green arrow). This will open the different extensions you can save your image as. Scroll through all the file types until you find the extension you want to save your image as. When you’re ready to export the file, click “Export.”
Keep in mind that when you do not save your file as a .XCF file type, your layers will not be preserved. This means that if you want to open the image again into GIMP to edit it, all of your layers will be compressed onto a single layer and you’ll have to edit on top of the final version of your image as you saved it.