General Computing
linux copy-paste gimp drag-and-drop cut-and-paste
Updated Thu, 11 Aug 2022 12:11:38 GMT

Copy and paste does not work with free-selection tool in GIMP

I have started using GIMP 2.10.8 on Linux and want to cut an arbitrary piece of an image, copy, and paste it. All image editing programs support this except GIMP - why?

Step-by-step reproduction of behaviour: Use the "free select tool" from the toolbox, select an area of the image (e.g. free form or polygon), press Ctrl + C to copy selection, then Ctrl+V to paste selection. Nothing happens. Also, drag & drop does not work, i.e. the selected region cannot be moved.

UPDATE: When using the "move" tool to translate the selection, something strange happens. It seems that copy & paste creates a duplicate of the entire image and layers it behind the current image. Moving the small selection then translates the entire duplicate layer behind the original image and the selected region behaves sort of like a "window" through which the layer behind is visible. Or differently put: The free-selection tool seems to select the complement of the actual selection. In order to understand how abnormal this behaviour is: Imagine that you select a word in this sentence and do Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V. You would not expect the entire text on this site (minus the selected word) to be copied. But this is precisely what GIMP does.


I found the solution, which is as simple as it is stupid: The "free selection" tool requires confirmation of the selection by pressing Enter. Without confirmation, GIMP will select anything that it deems appropriate at the moment, just not your selection (IMHO a bug/inconsistency, as e.g. the square selection tool works without pressing Enter).

I want to point out, however, that both Xenoid's and - especially - Anaksunaman's answer is extremely instructive as they explain the different settings that can be active while the selection is made.

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