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In Praise of GIMP 2.10

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I recently installed GIMP 2.10, the latest (stable) release of the free and open source image editor and am floored and overjoyed with how streamlined it feels compared to previous releases.

I’ve been a Photoshop user for over 15 years. When I was young my (incredible!) Mom bought me a copy of Photoshop 5.0, which I used until I got access to Photoshop CS2 in college, which I used until I got access to Photoshop CS6(/CC) during my brief marketing career. I used it for everything from photography to web design, and consider myself a power user. Among other things, I know a majority of the keyboard shortcuts by heart.

But now, as a very part-time mostly pro-bono web designer, I don’t have a Photoshop license except on a quite old PC that I basically never use. Sadly, I’ve stopped editing images mostly. In a pinch I’d use https://pixlr.com/editor/ and otherwise I’d use Google Photos.

This left me feeling a bit empty and feeling like I should get back into it. However, Photoshop now offers only a $200+ annual subscription, the economics of which don’t work out for pro-bono web services. Twice in the past, this has lead me to GIMP (The Free & Open Source Image Editor) but only until I gave up in frustration.

It’s built by developers and the old versions felt that way. Even something easy like loading Photoshop shortcuts that someone else had done all the legwork of creating was tough (for me) because it required navigating deep into the folder structure and placing dot-files (which at the time I didn’t understand.) Even with shortcuts, and maybe a familiar Photoshop-inspired theme, the learning curve was just too tough for me and I gave up.

The GIMP 2.10 release notes include an impressive feature list, but as a user you can’t miss the new theme when you first open GIMP. As a Photoshop-native, it just feels so much more homey. Another thing you’ll quickly notice are the 80+ built-in filters, which also make photoshop users feel at home.

I’m still stubborn, so something I had to adjust rather than overcome including keyboard shortcuts (which I remapped to Photoshop equivalents) and selection & move tool behaviors (which I also adjust to Photoshop equivalents.)

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