In this help article, I’ll be showing you how to install plugins in GIMP. Keep in mind that usually only plugins designed specifically for GIMP are going to work in GIMP. In other words, you can’t simply drag and drop a Photoshop plugin into GIMP and have it work – though there are other third-party plugins out there that make using Photoshop plugins in GIMP possible. But that’s a whole other subject!
Let’s get into it! You can watch the video version below, or skip over it for the help article version.
For starters, open GIMP. Navigate to the Preferences section by going to Edit>Preferences.
Scroll down to the very bottom of the list of preferences pages (outlined in green in the image above) until you see “Folders.” Click the “+” icon to expand the list of Folders (red arrow in the image above). You should see the “Plug-ins” folder listed here (blue arrow). Click on this folder – this is where GIMP stores all its plugins for the program.
You should see two addresses or folder destinations listed here. The top is the User plugins folder, or where the user can add new plugins, while the bottom destination is where GIMP keeps its built-in plugins that come with the program. Click on the first option (you’ll see it says “Roaming” somewhere in the destination – red arrow in the photo above). With this option selected, click the little icon that looks like a filing cabinet (labeled “Show file location in the file manager” when you hover over it with your mouse – blue arrow in the image above).
You should now have a File Manager window open with the “plug-ins” folder highlighted (red arrow in the image above). Double-click to enter this folder.
If you have yet to install any third-party or custom plugins, this folder will be empty. In my case, however, I have many plugins installed in GIMP. Thus, I have a few files in my folder already (shown in the image above). Keep this File Manager window open as it is where we’ll install the new GIMP plugin.
If you don’t already have the plug-in you’d like to install in GIMP opened in another File Manager window, you can open a new File Manager window by going to File>Open in New Window (red arrow in the image above). Locate the plugin you’d like to install in GIMP on your computer. If you downloaded the plugin from the internet, it’ll be in the location where you downloaded it onto your computer (i.e. the Downloads folder).
Many plugins come in a ZIP file by default (red arrow in the image above). You’ll have to extract the files in this zip file before you can import the plugin into GIMP. To do this, right-click on the ZIP folder that contains your plugin and go to “Extract All” (green arrow in the image above).
Choose a location on your computer where you’d like to extract the plugin files using the browse button (red arrow in the above image). I tend to extract them into the same folder where I downloaded the ZIP file, which is the default location. Make sure “Show extracted files when complete” is checked (green arrow). Click “Extract.”
The extracted folder should now pop-up in a new File Manager window. GIMP supports different plugin filetypes, but usually the plugins are Python Scripts (hence why my file is showing up as a “PY File” – red arrow). If you have multiple PY Files here, your plugin may have multiple features. If that is your case, select all the files by clicking and dragging your mouse overall all the files.
In my case, I only have one PY File. I’ll click on this file to select it (green arrow), then drag this PY File into the “plug-ins” folder we opened up earlier (red arrow).
Next, exit out of the GIMP Preferences tab (if you haven’t already) and close down GIMP. Reopen GIMP.
Check the website where you downloaded the GIMP Plugin – usually there are instructions as to where to find the plugin in GIMP’s menu. In my case, my new plugin is found by navigating to the Paths tab, right-clicking on my path and going to “Tools>Modify Path>Simplify” (red arrow in the photo above). However, each plugin will be in its own menu location depending on what makes sense for that plugin.
That’s it for this tutorial! If you liked it, you can check out my other GIMP Help Articles, watch a GIMP Video Tutorial, or get access to more content by becoming a DMD Premium Member.