I use the GIMP photo editor which automatically saves the converted files in .xcf format, but they cannot be reopened with any other app. How can I convert or save my images as JPEG or PNG?

3 Answers 3


You have to export the image, not save it.

To convert:

  1. Open the XCF file using GIMP
  2. Click on File
  3. Click on Export
  4. Enter a filename

    It'll be saved as PNG by default. You can use any other format by simply adding the extension to your filename (like image.jpg, image.bmp) or selecting another file format in the bottom right of the export window.

  5. Click on Export

The downside of exporting is that you'll only save what you see. So all your layers will be merged, and all editable components you may have added (like text) are not editable anymore.

So, if you would like to easily edit your images in the future, also save it as a XCF file as this will preserve all layers, components and other things as they are when you close GIMP.


.xcf is GIMP's native project file format similar to how .psd is Photoshop's native project file format. As Louis already explained saving in such formats has the benefit of being able to make modifications to editable components, which comes in handy when you work on big projects and have features like non-destructive editing and a history of modifications.

It makes sense to save into a project file format that is not intended to be viewed in a typical image viewer when you have users that use the program extensively for bigger projects and not just plain open, modify and save modifications workflows and you want to have a clear distinction between project files and image formats.

Earlier versions of GIMP allowed to save directly to standard image formats, this was remodeled into an export function with version 2.8. You can revert this through a plugin if you want:


I have been using free XNView to quickly view (top layer) XCF for years. That will batch convert almost all image files too, original program worked perfectly in Windows, One of my favorite programs ever.

Downloaded the multiplatform deb to Linux Mint, works well so far, but can not vouch for stability or integrity. On Windows that new version had issues with a DLL to view SVG. (I didn't purchase that DLL.) No clue.

(It may have lagged the Nero copy working (extensively) from CD Rom drives, I am not using its file manager function now)

  • unfortunately, XnView MP Linux 1.0 (64-bit, April 29 2022) does not recognize current (v. 12) XCF files. It fails with a rather plaintive not a picture error
    – scruss
    Jul 30, 2022 at 12:52

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