How to Center Text in GIMP

Working with text in GIMP can be a bit frustrating, but I’m here to help with a series of quick guides that take you through all the basics. This time around, we’re going to look at how to center any text in GIMP, both in the basic text alignment and the location of the text in your image.

Centering by Text Alignment

This one is actually pretty simple, as long as you’ve got your Tool Options panel visible in GIMP. As soon as you select the Text tool from the toolbox (it’s the large capital A icon or use the keyboard shortcut T), the Tool Options panel should update to show the relevant settings for use with the Text tool. 

The Text tool options in GIMP 2.10 on Windows 10

The key setting that you’re looking for is found in the Justify section, which offers four text alignment options: Left justified, Right justified, Centered, and Filled. Obviously, the Centered option will produce the desired result.

Select your existing text using the Text tool and apply the Justify setting Centered

You can set this option before you begin to type and it will start out centered, unsurprisingly. If you’ve changed your mind and you want to center some text that has already been typed out, simply click and drag to select it using the Text tool. Selected characters will be outlined in yellow borders, as shown above, then just click the Centered option in the Justify setting. 

Strictly speaking, only the Filled setting actually creates justified text (which refers to the process of dynamically adjusting letter and word spacing to fill each line completely from edge to edge as seamlessly as possible) but typographic accuracy isn’t one of GIMP’s strong points, unfortunately. 

Centering by Image Alignment

Now that you’ve got your text centered relative to the available text area, it’s time to get it centered against your image as a whole. This exact process will actually work on any layer type, so it’s a handy thing to know about, but I’ll still with the same text layer for this example. 

The only secret to image alignment is finding the Alignment tool, and it’s not much of a secret since it’s stacked below the Move tool in your toolbox. You can also access it using the keyboard shortcut Q, or by opening the Tools menu, selecting Transform Tools, and clicking Align.

The Align/Alignment tool is a bit confusing at first, but it’s simple enough once you get the hang of it. Once you’ve selected the tool, your cursor turns into a precision selector. Click on the image element you want to align, and GIMP will select the appropriate layer for you.

GIMP’s Alignment tool adds handles at the borders of the active image element

Once you’ve selected the element you want to adjust, it’s time to look more closely at the Tool Options panel, which gives us all of our Alignment options (see below). 

The Alignment tool options in GIMP 2.10

Since we want to center our text within our image, we can leave the Relative to option at its current setting, but feel free to experiment with the different options, which can be very useful for centering text relative to another image element, such as an icon or logo.

The Align center of target button, which will center the text relative to the canvas

Then simply click the Align center of target button and you’re done! If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also select the Align middle of target button just below it, and you’ll get your selection vertically centered as well as horizontally (so fancy, lol).

Centered text alignment, and both horizontally and vertically centered in the canvas

That’s everything you need to know to center text in GIMP! As I mentioned earlier, you can use the second alignment technique to center anything you want in GIMP, not just text, so get out there and start crafting precision alignments! 

About Thomas Boldt
I’ve been working with digital images since the year 2000 or so, when I got my first digital camera. I've tried many image editing programs. GIMP is a free and powerful software, but not exactly user-friendly until you get comfortable with it, and I wanted to make the learning process easier for you here.

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  • i filled all the fields with * but i guess i have to fill all fields

    When I try nothing happens (second technique cuz I always use center aligned text)

    • Thomas Boldt

      Can you tell me how far you got in the second phase before it stopped working the way you expected? That will help me to help you =)

  • gimp struggler

    I had problem with this tutorial until figuring it out after much trial and errors.

    In the first picture the Text settings in the lower left part have “Box: Fixed”

    I happened to have that already selected and wasn’t aware of its effect, so the alignment tool didn’t work as expected, after changing to “Box: Dynamic” it works.

    • Thomas Boldt

      That’s a good tip for other readers, thanks! I usually try to start all my tutorials from the default UI settings since I never know what readers will have done to their UI 😉 But it’s probably a good idea to update this article a little bit for clarity based on your feedback. Thanks again!