No matter how much you enjoy image editing, performing the same basic editing tasks over and over again can get boring fast – especially when you need to process hundreds or thousands of images.
If you need to resize an entire photoshoot to provide your clients with share-friendly image sizes or if you need to add watermarks to your whole image collection, doing it by hand isn’t really an effective option.
Fortunately, GIMP offers a couple of different ways to perform batch processing, allowing you to automate simple editing tasks and then just walk away from the computer while it does all the work.
You can use the built-in scripting system (which I do not recommend unless you’re very comfortable with coding), or you can use a third-party plugin that makes batch processing much simpler. I’ll show you both methods in this tutorial.
Method 1: Batch Processing in GIMP
If you’re a software developer, you’ll have absolutely no problem working with GIMP’s scripting options to batch-process your images – but otherwise, I strongly recommend that you skip this section entirely and explore the free batch-processing plugin method listed in the next section.
To be honest, most of this scripting goes way over my head since I became interested in GIMP through my love of photography, not my love of coding (lol). Whenever I need to do batch editing, I use BIMP instead of trying to master GIMP scripting.
For example, the official GIMP documentation gives a quick tutorial about how to use the Script-Fu console in GIMP to write batch processing scripts, but as you can see below, they are making a mockery of the word “simple”:
If that wasn’t enough to make you give up on the idea of using GIMP’s native batch processing capabilities, perhaps the 7000-word tutorial about how to automate editing will do the job.
Those of you who are comfortable with scripting can use the Script-Fu console along with the Procedure Browser to run any commands you want, but the rest of us will be using the BIMP method described in the next section.
Method 2: Make Batch Processing Easy With a Plugin
One of the greatest features of GIMP is the ability to add new features by installing plugins that have been developed by the user community.
As you might guess from the name, a plugin is a small piece of software that integrates with a larger program such as GIMP. Because GIMP is open source, anyone with software development experience can create plugins.
The most popular batch-processing plugin for GIMP is named BIMP, which stands for Batch Image Manipulation Plugin. BIMP is the brainchild of Italian computer scientist Alessandro Francesconi, and he gives away the plugin for free on his website.
Download the appropriate version for your operating system from the official website.
If you’re installing BIMP on a Windows PC, all you have to do is run the installer program and follow the on-screen prompts.
If you’re installing BIMP on a Mac, the process is a bit more complex. Click the Installer for MacOS link, and you will be linked to the project’s GitHub page. In the Assets section, click the link titled gimp-plugin-bimp_macos.tar.gz to download the macOS version of BIMP as a compressed file.
Once the download is complete, open your Downloads folder and double-click the downloaded file to expand it. macOS will create a new folder with the same name and place the decompressed files inside the new folder.
Open the new folder, and double-click the file named “install”. Your Mac will probably give you a warning message informing you that the program cannot be executed because it comes from an unknown developer.
To get around this, right-click or ctrl+click the “install” file and click Open in the popup menu. macOS will still give you a warning message, but this time you’ll have the option to go ahead and open the file anyways.
As long as you downloaded the file from the official GitHub page as directed above, there is no need to be concerned that the plugin will contain malware. Make sure you don’t download BIMP from an unofficial source!
How to Use BIMP for Batch Processing
Once the installation is complete, launch GIMP as you normally would, and BIMP will be loaded automatically.
To use BIMP, open the File menu and click Batch Image Manipulation…
GIMP will open the plugin, which has a much more user-friendly interface than messing around with the Python scripting console, as you can see below.
In the Manipulation set section at the top of the window, click the Add button to begin configuring the batch processing operations you want BIMP to perform.
There are a few preset options for common tasks, such as resizing, cropping, and watermarking, but you can also click Other GIMP procedure to select from a huge list of all the image editing operations that GIMP can perform.
You’ll get a chance to customize the operation, configuring any relevant parameters (for example, the new resized dimensions of your image in pixels). You can also continue to add more batch operations as necessary until you’ve configured all of your chosen workflow steps.
Once you’ve configured the process, it’s time to tell GIMP which images it should process. Click the Add Images button, and you’ll get a small popup with options for adding images individually, adding folders, or adding all the images that are currently open in GIMP.
It’s usually simplest to store a copy of all of the images you want to batch process in a separate folder since this also helps to prevent accidentally overwriting your unedited source files.
It’s also important to make sure that you choose your output folder carefully for the same reason: you don’t want to overwrite your original files, especially when you’re first learning how to use BIMP.
Once all the settings are configured to your satisfaction, click the Apply button in the bottom right, and GIMP will begin processing your images automatically.
A Final Word
That covers everything you’ll need to know to do batch processing in GIMP! I think you’ll agree that using BIMP for batch processing is much simpler than trying to learn GIMP’s batch-processing scripts! GIMP is arguably the most powerful open-source image editor, but every so often, it reminds us that it still has a ways to go in the user experience department.
Here’s hoping that GIMP 3 includes some more comprehensive batch-processing options!About Thomas Boldt