GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, which is a fancy way of saying it’s a freeware photo editor.

Installation and Setup
The GIMP team itself doesn’t actually support Windows binaries but luckily another user creates them regularly. Install has a ‘custom’ mode where you can set what extensions the program will open by default, along with any optional components. GIMP takes up between 70MB and 200MB in use, less than the latest line of Adobe products. It installs into a respectable 80MB of space. In comparison, Photoshop uses around 200MB.

Ease of Use
GIMP is a photo editor. This isn’t a casual photo viewer program; it’s a fully featured manipulation package. Features include full layer support, digital retouching, photo enhancement and a fully customizable interface.

The program has recently undergone a transformation in terms of its interface, which now looks very similar to other professional photo editing software. If you’re used to using Photoshop or perhaps Paint.NET, the layout should be familiar even though it will take some time to get used to a multitude of different buttons and keyboard shortcuts.

The program is perfect for people who regularly edit photos but can’t afford software from Coral or Adobe which can debut at a high price. GIMP’s various plugins can extend the functionality of the program to provide added hardware support, extended file types and other useful features. Although it would have been nice to see some of the plugins as default, they do keep the installation size down and let you pick and choose what you are most likely to need. Some technical ability will be required to install the plugins, however.

It’s not perfect – large brushes can lag and web slicing is difficult. However, GIMP is about the closest you can get to professional editing software without having to pay a penny.

Download the Windows version of GIMP, compiled Linux versionMac OS X version or the source code.

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