How to Change Font in GIMP

Choosing the right font is a key step in any graphic design project. It can create a fun, playful feeling, or set a professional, business-like tone; in short, the right font can make or break your project. Ideally, this should be a fun stage of your design process – as long as you can choose the right font! 

To use a specific font in GIMP, you don’t need to do anything special – as long as it’s already installed in your operating system. GIMP will use your installed fonts without any additional setup, although you can set certain fonts to only work within GIMP if you’d prefer (though I can’t see why that would be necessary). 

If you’ve explored any of my other tutorials about typesetting in GIMP, you might already know that the Type tool can be frustrating to work with – or maybe you’ve found out the hard way. While it’s not exactly difficult to change fonts in GIMP, it’s not nearly as easy as it should be. 

There are three ways you can change fonts in GIMP: using the Tool Options panel, using the Fonts panel, or using the Text tool popup overlay that appears when you create a text box in your image. 

It’s faster to use the popup, but things can quickly get frustrating because GIMP prioritizes the settings from the Tool Options panel and sometimes simply resets any changes you’ve made in the popup. Save yourself time and just set things up using the Tool Options first! 

Changing Fonts Using the Text Tool Options

If you haven’t already switched to the Text tool, switch now using the toolbox or the keyboard shortcut T. In the Tool Options panel, you’ll see all the various typographic options that GIMP provides (or at least, most of them). 

The Tool Options panel showing the Text tool options

Changing the font is actually quite easy: either click the name of the current font and begin typing the name of the font you want to use, or click the Aa thumbnail and select from a list. Unfortunately, as you’ll soon see, this is a pretty cramped window for browsing through a large collection, and you can’t even resize it! 

I don’t know who thought this was enough space to select fonts, but they weren’t a typographer

There is a half-solution that gives you a bit more room: the Fonts panel.  

The Fonts Panel

I think the Fonts panel is either a leftover relic or a hasty bandaid, but it’s also the easiest way to browse your collection and select a typeface. The problem is that you can’t use it for anything else; it only does half the job. You’ll still have to use the Tool Options panel to set the rest of your default text settings.

At least you can see the full names of the fonts here (usually)

If your Fonts panel isn’t visible nested in the upper right corner with Brushes, Patterns, and History, you can bring it back by opening the Windows menu, selecting the Dockable Dialogs submenu, and choosing Fonts from the list.

Changing Fonts Using the Text Tool Overlay

It’s also possible to change fonts using the Text tool popup overlay that appears above any text box that you draw. Simply click the font name and type in the name of the font you’d like to use. Just a few characters will do, and GIMP will show you a dropdown list of options. 

The dropdown is fairly fast at switching, but the thumbnails are tiny

The problem with this method is that it only applies to the actual characters that you’ve typed into the text box, not the text box itself. So if you’re testing out a particular phrase or name and set the font using the popup, and then delete those characters, the text box settings will revert to those set using the Tool Options panel. 

I drove myself up the wall more than a few times while I was getting used to this quirk of GIMP’s Text tool, but hopefully, it will save you some time and aggravation when you need to change fonts in GIMP. 

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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  • Antal

    Dear Thomas,
    do you know perhaps how I could change the font for only a few characters/words within a text box which was written in a specific font type?
    What happens now in Gimp 2.8 is that I highlight the words I want to change, select a different font for them in the Text tool, and the ALL THE LETTERS in the text box change (not only the highlighted ones).
    This has caused me a lot of extra work when I letter comics in Gimp. Now I make a text box with the main part of the text, and then create another one and position it over the first one with the words set in a different font.
    It would be great to have a solution for this – perhaps it is actually available, by pressing another key that I don’t know about?
    Thank you if can think about it,

    • Thomas Boldt

      Hi Antal, that sounds really frustrating! Unfortunately, I think that might be a limitation of GIMP 2.8. It should be possible to do what you want in GIMP 2.10, so you may want to consider upgrading to the latest version unless you need a specific plugin or feature that’s only compatible with 2.8.

      You may also want to try the pre-release beta version of GIMP 3, known as GIMP 2.99, to see if that solves your problem.

      • Antal

        Hi Thomas, thank you so much for your help! Upgrading to the latest stable 2.10.36 version indeed did the trick. When I work with a text box, an additional text tool appears right above the box, and the controls there allow editing the text. (Interestingly, however, the “default” text tool controls on the left hand side still only edit the whole of the text in a text box.) So, problem solved for me, thanks a lot. 🙂

  • Baxter

    Is there any way to have more than one font in a text box?

    • Thomas Boldt

      Hi Baxter, you should be able to change the font for specific characters/lines of text by selecting them within your text box using the Text tool. Once the characters are selected, a yellow box should appear outlined around each selected character. I’m not sure why the devs chose to do it that way instead of following the standard text selection method we see in other apps, but that’s what you’re looking for!

  • Mapleleaf

    None of this works. The panels don’t change the font of the selected layer. The font size (for example) doesn’t even match the size of the actual font. What are the initial steps to get the text on the image to match the dialog/menu thats been brought up….and why does gimp have a dialog that doesnt match your text in the first place…really frustrating…

    • Thomas Boldt

      GIMP’s text tools are very bad, unfortunately. To make adjustments to text you’ve already entered, make sure you click and drag to select the characters you want to adjust before adjusting the font size options. GIMP highlights each selected letter with a yellow box outline so you know they’re selected.

      Hopefully GIMP 3 will have a much better text system, and it’s supposed to be released soon!

  • Adrian Fox

    I am despairing with Gimp 2.10.32 of trying to find a way to set the font default (the tool options dialogue seems to be abandoned) and also the text alignment function which is always set as left aligned when most of my work needs center alignment.

    I think the change that has been made since Gimp 2.8 in abandoning Tool options for text is a backward step and I would like the program to retain the options of using these set in preferences, which people can always ignore if they wish. I have given up searching Youtube and the wider web trying to find an answer to this and find nothing to help, unless there is something I have missed.

    • Thomas Boldt

      Hi Adrian, I think I’ve got a solution for you! GIMP should be automatically saving your Tool Options settings when you close GIMP, but if not, here’s a way around it.

      Switch to the Text tool, and configure the default settings that you want the Text tool to use. Then open the Edit menu, select Preferences. In the Preferences window, choose the Tool Options section from the list on the left.

      Click the button labeled Save Tool Options Now. If you want, you can also *uncheck* the box labeled ‘Save tool options on exit’, which should prevent any additional changes from being saved. That should force your Text tool to always use the same settings that you had when you clicked the Save Tool Options Now button.

      Hope that helps!

  • Louis

    I have 2.8.22.
    I am unable to change the “ink” color of the text under the text tool. Any color I choose in the text related option boxes is disregarded and the text remains black. I can change the font style and size but not the color.
    Is my GIMP too old?

    • Thomas Boldt

      Hi Louis, that version of GIMP should have no trouble changing text colors! Make sure that the text layer you want to edit is selected in the Layers panel, and that the text box containing the text you want to edit is active. You can accomplish this by double-clicking the text layer in the Layers panel, or use the Text tool to select all the characters that you want to change. Then adjust the color in the Tool Options panel and the text should change to match.

      That being said, you might want to update GIMP to the latest version anyway just to make sure that you’re not running into any strange bugs.

  • arthur brogard

    thanks for this. a good one. but I am actually searching for something even simpler: how to change the size of text I”ve just written.. you could maybe add a footnote to this about that…
    but good, thanks.


    • Thomas Boldt

      Hi Arthur, thanks for the suggestion! I’ll put in an update when I get a chance, but for now, all you have to do is select the text you want to change using the Text tool, and then modify the size in the Text tool overlay popup that appears beside your active text.

      See the last screenshot in the post above for an example: that text is sized at 62 px, but you can adjust that number to anything you want. Don’t forget to click and drag to select the characters you want to adjust. GIMP will highlight each selected character with a yellow box outline so that you know you’re on the right track.

      Hope that helps!