How to Make GIMP Load Faster

By Melissa Worcester

Updated September 28, 2017

If you're falling asleep while waiting for the GIMP to load, try some of these tricks.
i Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

The GIMP is a powerful and feature-rich image editing software that runs on a variety of operating systems. There are lots of ways you can add custom tools to the GIMP by downloading and installing brushes, patterns, gradients, fonts and plug-ins. If you do this too often, however, it may take quite a while to start up the GIMP, while it loads all of these files into memory. There are various ways you can get around this, and a few other things you can do if your copy of the GIMP takes forever to launch.

Remove extra brushes. Do this in your file management system, while the GIMP is not running. Open the folder that holds the GIMP software and look for a folder called "Brushes". Open it and drag brush files you don't use much to another folder, then restart the GIMP. If you're not sure which ones to remove, look at the file sizes and choose those that are the largest. Similarly, you can remove unused patterns, palettes and gradients.

Remove unused fonts. Fonts used in the GIMP are the same fonts used in the rest of your programs. Consult a user manual for your operating system to learn details, but this usually consists of finding the "Fonts" folder and removing fonts you don't often use.

Reduce the amount of memory needed to run GIMP by tweaking the GIMP Preferences. Click on "Edit" in the top menu bar, and select "Preferences". Select "Environment" from the list on the left and reduce the minimal number of undo levels, the maximum undo memory, and the tile cache size.

Use the "no data" startup option when starting GIMP. This option works in Linux only, in environments where you launch software by typing a command. Type "gimp --no-data" instead of just "gimp" to launch the GIMP and it will not load patterns, brushes and other such files. This is similar to the steps one and two above except you can always quite and reload GIMP again the normal way, so it's an easy way to test if the extra files are truly slowing it down, or a way to load it just once without these files and leaving the option to easily load it again using the files, instead of removing them more permanently.

Close GIMP by clicking on "Quit" in the "File" menu instead of clicking on the "X" in the top of the window bar. Depending on your operating system, this may be a way to close it that is more efficient, resulting in a cleaner startup next time you run it.


If you have a lot of brushes and fonts, make two or more folders for each. One will be the regular folder where GIMP accesses them, and other folders are places you can store others for ease of temporarily loading them. Control which folders are loaded by using the "Folder" section of the GIMP Preferences. Add another folder for each type of tool by clicking on the icon with the green plus sign. Then you can choose to place or remove a check mark next to each folder, controlling which brushes, patterns, gradients, fonts and plug-ins are loaded each time you use the GIMP.