The GIMP Search Actions feature, also known as the Integrated Search Feature, is a quick and easy way to find ANYTHING you’d like to open in GIMP. This feature works with finding and opening filters, effects, images, tools, and pretty much any menu item that exists in GIMP.
When it comes to anything that uses a dialogue (i.e. filters or creating a new image or layer), this feature is extremely useful because you can simply type the name of the action you are looking for, then double click on the search result to open that dialogue directly from the Search Actions dialogue.
Allow me to demonstrate by showing this feature in action. You can watch the video tutorial below, or skip past it to the Help Article version of this tutorial.
For starters, you can access the Search Actions feature by using the forward slash key (“/”) on your keyboard or by going to Help>Search and Run a Command (as shown in the image above – you can see the forward slash key on the far right of the menu item).
This will bring up the dialogue labeled “Search Actions” (red arrow in the image above).
Note that even if you don’t have a composition opened yet, this feature will still work. However, the results that show up will only display actions that will work at this stage of your editing (in other words, you can’t open up a filter without creating a new document or opening a new image first).
For example, let’s say I wanted to open up my Document History panel to find a document I created in GIMP recently. To do this, I’d simply start to type “Document” (red arrow – note that the Search Actions feature is not case sensitive) and immediately I’ll see a result labeled “Document History” (blue arrow). I’ll double-click on this search result.
This will open up my Document History panel (red arrow in the image above) where I can scroll through previous documents I’ve created or opened in GIMP. For example, one of my recent images was a custom black and white Wilber logo (GIMP’s mascot – blue arrow in the image above) that I created. If I double-click this entry in the Document History panel, it will open the document into GIMP.
There is also a design composition I created recently for one of Davies Media Design’s help articles that contains several layers. I’ll double-click to open this composition as well (red arrow in the image above – I’ll be using both these compositions to demonstrate the Search Actions feature).
So we’ve seen that this feature can be used to open our Document History, and then open documents into GIMP, but it can do much more than that. For example, I’ll now click on the top layer in my Layers panel (red arrow in the image above), then click the “Create a new layer” icon (green arrow). This will open up the “New Layer” dialogue. I’ll name this layer “Vignette” (blue arrow) and click OK.
I can now quickly add a vignette to this layer using GIMP’s built-in Vignette filter. Rather than going searching for the effect in the Filters menu, I can simply bring up my Search Actions dialogue (hit the forward slash key on the keyboard or go to Help>Search and Run a Command) and start to type “Vignette” (Red arrow). Another note – you don’t have to type the full word – usually the result you are looking for pops up after a couple letters, though of course it depends on what exactly you’re searching for.
Double-click on the “Vignette” search result (blue arrow in the image above) and GIMP will automatically open the Vignette Filter dialogue.
The vignette will be added to whatever our active layer is, which in this case is the “Vignettte” layer we created earlier (blue arrow in the image above). I can make any adjustments to the vignette that I want/need to and click OK (red arrow). We now have a vignette on our composition.
So far I’ve demonstrated that you can open a composition or add a filter using this Search Actions feature. I can also access any tool from the Toolbox (though of course the toolbox and all its tools are pretty easy to access on the left-hand side of the image window), or I can access any action from any menu in GIMP.
For example, if I want to scale the entire composition, I can open up the Search Actions dialogue (forward slash key on the keyboard) and type “Scale.” You’ll see here we have a few options – the first option is the Scale Tool from the GIMP Toolbox (red arrow – this is better used for scaling individual layers, selections, or paths), as well as Scale Image, Scale Layer, and a few GEGL filters that have the word “scale” in their descriptions. I’ll double-click the “Scale Image” option (blue arrow) as that’s what we’re looking for.
This will bring up the “Scale Image” dialogue for scaling my entire composition. I’ll scale my image down by typing “800” for my width (red arrow), and will hit the tab key to have the height automatically update (my aspect ratio is locked using the little chain link icon – blue arrow). I’ll click “Scale” to scale the composition (green arrow).
So, I think you get the gist of how this feature works, but I do want to demonstrate one last example. I’ll bring up the Search Actions dialogue one last time (forward slash key on the keyboard).
Now, let’s say I want to find an image or layer from any open composition in GIMP. Remember that we opened the Wilber logo earlier in the tutorial. So, hypothetically lets say I now want to access that image, but I have a bunch of tabs open and can’t find it. All I need to do is type the name of the file I’m looking for, or just a word I know is in the name or description of the file. In this case, I can start to type “Wilb” (I named it “Wilbur” when I originally created the image – which is a typo – Wilber is spelled with an “e”).
You’ll see now there are actually two results shown – the first is the Wilber logo file on my computer (red arrow in the image above – you can see the file’s address on my computer in the description of the search result), which GIMP knows I opened recently and so can retrieve from my Document History, and the second is the Wilber file that is currently opened inside of GIMP (blue arrow). I’ll double-click the second option which will take me to the tab that contains my Wilber logo image (shown below).
So, next time you can’t remember where a certain filter is located in the GIMP menus, or you have tons of images open and you need to jump to one of them, use the handy Search Actions feature found in all GIMP 2.10 versions!