GIMP plug-in that exports layers as separate images
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Export Layers

Export Layers is a GIMP plug-in that lets you export layers as separate images in any file format supported by GIMP and third-party plug-ins.

Download latest release (2.5, April 22 2016)


  • uses native dialogs for file formats to adjust export settings
  • uses layer names as filenames for the exported images
  • can treat layer groups as folders
  • can use tagged layers as background or foreground layers
  • can optionally export only layers whose file extension matches the specified file extension
  • can use file extensions in layer names as file formats


  • GIMP 2.8 or later
  • Python 2.7 or later from the 2.7.x series



Make sure you installed GIMP with support for Python scripting.

Copy the file and the export_layers folder to [your home folder]\.gimp-2.8\plug-ins (usually C:\Users\[your username]\.gimp-2.8\plug-ins).


Copy the file and the export_layers folder to [your home folder]/.gimp-2.8/plug-ins (usually /home/[your username]/.gimp-2.8/plug-ins).

If necessary, make the file executable, e.g. from the terminal:

chmod +x ""


Copy the file and the export_layers folder to [your home folder]/Library/Application Support/GIMP/2.8/plug-ins (usually /Users/[your username]/Library/Application Support/GIMP/2.8/plug-ins).

If necessary, make the file executable, e.g. from the terminal:

chmod +x ""

GIMP for OS X may have Python 2.6 bundled, which will not work with this plug-in, since Python 2.7 is required.

To check if the correct version of Python is installed, start GIMP and go to Filters -> Python-Fu -> Console. The console must display "Python 2.7" or later from the 2.7.x series. If not, install Python 2.7, open /Applications/ and change its contents to the following:



From the main menu, select "File -> Export Layers...". A dialog appears, allowing you to specify output folder, file extension and various other settings.

Type or choose your desired file extension in the "File extension" text field. You can still enter a file extension not in the dropdown list in case you use a file format plug-in not recognized by this plug-in.

To export layers, press the "Export" button. A dialog corresponding to the file format appears, allowing you to adjust export settings. Some file formats don't have dialogs, while some of them display the dialog for each layer (listed in section Known Issues).

To export layers with the last settings used, you may want to choose "File -> Export Layers (repeat)".


Treat layer groups as folders

If enabled, layers will be exported to subfolders corresponding to the layer groups. If disabled, all layers will be exported to the output folder on the same level and no subfolders will be created.

Only visible layers

If enabled, invisible layers will not be exported. Visible layers within invisible layer groups will also not be exported.


If enabled, layers will be autocropped before being exported.

Use image size

If enabled, layers will be resized (but not scaled) to the image size. This is useful if you want to keep the size of the image canvas and the layer position within the image. If layers are partially outside the image canvas, they will be cut off. If you want to export the entire layer, leave this setting disabled.

Save Settings

Current settings in the Export Layers window are permanently saved to a file. If you re-open GIMP, the saved settings will be loaded from the file when Export Layers is first opened.

Reset Settings

Settings will be reset to their default values.

More Settings

File extensions in layer names

  • No special handling - No special action is performed.
  • Export only layers matching file extension - Export only layers whose file extensions match the "File extension" text field.
  • Use as file extensions - Every layer that has a valid file extension will be exported using that file extension. File format dialog will be displayed once for each file extension. For layers with invalid or no file extension, the extension in the "File extension" text field will be used.

Additional options to "File extensions in layer names"

  • Always strip file extension - Strip (remove) file extension from all layer names.
  • Strip identical file extension - Remove file extension from the layer names that match the "File extension" text field.
  • Never strip file extension - Don't strip file extension from layer names.

[Tagged] layers

Tagged layers contain tags at the beginning of the layer names and can modify how layers are handled. For example, a layer named "[background] Layer" can be used as a background layer if Treat specially is selected.

Currently, the plug-in supports two tags:

  • background - use the layer as a background for every exported layer.
  • foreground - use the layer as a foreground for every exported layer.

Tags are always stripped from layer names upon their export. You can also specify multiple tags in one layer (e.g. "[background] [foreground] Layer", despite these two tags being a rather unusual combination).


  • Treat as normal layers - Tagged layers will be exported as any other layer.
  • Treat specially - Tagged layers will be processed correspondingly and will not be exported separately.
  • Ignore - Tagged layers will not be exported and will not be processed.
  • Ignore other layers - All other layers will not be exported.

Additional options to "[Tagged] layers"

  • Crop to layer - Layers will be cropped to their size.
  • Crop to background - Layers will be cropped to the background layers.
  • Crop to foreground - Layers will be cropped to the foreground layers.

Merge layer groups

If enabled, each top-level layer group is merged into one layer. The name of each merged layer is the name of the corresponding top-level layer group.

Create folders for empty layer groups

If enabled, empty subfolders from empty layers groups are created.

Ignore layer modes

If enabled, the layer mode for each layer is set to Normal. This is useful for layers with opacity less than 100% and a layer mode different than Normal or Dissolve, which would normally be completely invisible if a file format supporting alpha channel is used (such as PNG).

Known Issues

Sometimes, after you hit the Export button, it may seem as though nothing happens. In that case, the file format dialog may be displayed behind GIMP - if so, simply select the dialog to bring it up.

Several users reported crashes on Windows and OS X when clicking on the menu entries. If the crashes occur to you, try reinstalling GIMP.

The following file formats are not working properly with this plug-in:

  • colored XHTML (.xhtml) - does not save images at all.

The following file formats have to display the file format dialog for each layer, not just the first layer:

  • RAW,
  • FLI (.fli, .flc),
  • C source (.c),
  • HTML (.html, .htm).

On Windows, the following file formats don't work properly if file paths contain Unicode characters:

  • DDS (.dds),
  • OpenRaster (.ora),
  • X PixMap Image (.xpm).


This plug-in is licensed under the GNU GPLv3.


If you want to provide translations for the plug-in, see Readme for


You can report issues, ask questions or request new features: