I have two image tabs open and I want to copy one layer from the first image to the second image keeping dimensions and size.

How would I do that?


I have this 640px by 400px first image with two layers - the background and a brush

enter image description here

and I want to copy the brush layer to this other image of 1600px by 1200px.

enter image description here

3 Answers 3


To do this in GIMP 2.8, follow these steps:

  1. Click the first image to make it active and hide the layer(s) you don't want copied.
    (TIP: To quickly hide/unhide layers you can hold down Shift as you click on the 'eye icon' on one of the layers. This will hide/unhide all layers expect the one you have clicked on.)

    enter image description here

  2. Click and hold on the first image tab and drag. A little info box shows.

  3. Drag the info box to the other image tab until it becomes active but don't release on the tab.
    See below:

    enter image description here

  4. Drag the info box on the canvas itself and release.

    enter image description here

  5. The layer will be copied as a new layer - centered, keeping dimensions and size.

    enter image description here

  • 1
    This procedure does not always work, for example it doesn't work if the layer contains a text
    – stenci
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 19:31
  • 1
    I was using a XCF file. Using GIMP 2.8.16, this does not center the image but instead keeps it original location (which is great!).
    – Smile4ever
    Commented Dec 27, 2015 at 15:20
  • 1
    Having to deselect all other layers may be not a fast thing to do, if you want to copy just one layer, you can drag it from layers panel and drop it onto the other image, created beforehand if needed.
    – x-yuri
    Commented Mar 18, 2016 at 22:48
  • 2
    Sadly, this doesn't seem to work for any kind of complex layers, be they text, layer trees or layers with masks. It all gets flattened. This doesn't so much copy the layer, as copy the visible image to a new layer.
    – Nyerguds
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 10:28
  • 2
    You can, however, import the layers of another saved xcf file into your image with the "open as layers" function.
    – Nyerguds
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 10:32

The previous answer doesn't work if the layer contains a text.

Layers containing a text can be copied by dragging them from the layer dialog of a drawing to the layer dialog of the other drawing. It is easy to do in multiple window mode, less easy in single window mode. A video in this post shows how to do it both in single and multiple window mode: http://gimpforums.com/thread-copy-text-layers.


The old link is broken. Here is a link to the archived website: https://web.archive.org/web/20181006232023/gimpforums.com/thread-copy-text-layers

And here is the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G13TXE9agYM&feature=youtu.be

  • 2
    +1. Text layers are tricky. Thank you for the clarification.
    – Parto
    Commented Jul 31, 2015 at 6:09
  • 1
    dead link to vid
    – doug
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 2:14
  • Weird thing is: I intuitively tried what you described and it didn't work. The text got inserted but was added as a pixel graphic to the existing layer of the second image. I then googled the problem, found this question, tried the accepted answer, and it worked. For you, it seems to be the other way around.
    – UTF-8
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 14:17
  • @UTF-8 Did you drag the layer from the layer box to the layer box or to the graphics area?
    – stenci
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 14:30
  • I clicked one of the text layers in image A, then held down tab, clicked the layer again but held M1 down this time, dragged it over to image B, and dropped it onto the canvas. Only then did I release the tab key. It was then added as a text layer to image B but it wasn't in its original location but centered. Sometimes, the dock windows I had lost their contents but dragging them a bit on their window bars made their contents reappear. Sometimes, the docks were hidden afterwards but pressing the Tab key made them reappear (standard shortcut for that).
    – UTF-8
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 14:35

As mentioned in stenci's answer and in comments, text layers are treated differently. Dragging them from the layers dialogue onto the new image thumbnail retains editable text, but the original text location is lost.

To keep the editable text and its location, use this scheme:

  • Start in the image where you want the new (copied) layer
  • Choose File > Open as Layers...
  • Select the old xcf image with the layer you want

All layers will be imported to the new image. Remove the ones you don't want.

  • This works in my 2.8.16, and its simple and intuitive.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 8, 2020 at 22:10

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