Why Does GIMP Save Files in XCF Format?

If you’ve been using GIMP for any length of time you’ve probably noticed that when you save files they export in the XCF format. So why does GIMP make you save files in the XCF format and is there any way to save in another format? 

GIMP saves files in the XCF format because it is a great format for storing layers without losing quality. XCF is better than many comparable formats for saving layers, paths and all the various settings you use on each of your images. However, these files can be exported as other formats. 

If you’re using GIMP but you’d like to export your files in a format other than XCF we’ve got you covered. In our guide below we will first explain why exactly it is that GIMP saves in XCF as well as how you can convert those files into an alternative format like PNG or JPG. So come along and let’s dive right in!

Does GIMP Only Save as XCF?

Though we know that GIMP saves files as XCF by default, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t save in other formats. So, does GIMP only save as XCF or can you change it to a different file format?

The answer to this question really depends on what you mean by save. Raw files on GIMP can only be saved as XCF, as they need to retain all of their layers, transparency settings and whatever else has been done to them. That said, you can export GIMP files into a number of different formats. 

When you actually go to export your project you’ll be able to change the format that they are saved in. This process is quite simple and what we will go over in the next few sections, with two of the most commonly used formats. 

Can GIMP Export XCF to JPEG?

JPG is one of the most commonly used file formats for images because of its quality and reliability. It’s therefore only natural to ask, can GIMP export XCF to JPG. 

GIMP can in fact export XCF to JPG. Just remember the raw file will still be XCF, it’s the finished and exported version that will be a JPG. In the subsection below, we’ll dive into how you do this, step-by-step. 

How to Export XCF to JPEG in GIMP

Exporting your GIMP files as JPEGs is a pretty straightforward process. You simply need to have the file opened and ready in GIMP to get started. 

Once you have your file booted up, follow the steps below to export your XCF file as a JPEG: 

  • Select “Export As’ ‘ from the “File” menu: Look for file on the toolbar. It should be the first tab. Click it and select “Export As” from the dropdown list. From there you can select what location you want it to download to. 
  • Select your file type: A window labeled “Export Image” should open up. Near the bottom of the window you should see a small dropdown tab labeled “Select File Type.” Click on it and scroll through the options till you see JPEG Image. Select it. 
  • Click “Export” and adjust your settings: When you click on “Export” a dialogue box will open that will allow you to change the options on your JPEGs quality. 
  • Select “Export” again and download your file: Once you’ve adjusted your settings to however you want them, you simply need to click “Export” again and allow the file to download. 

Now you’re all done! You’ve created a JPG from your GIMP XCF file. This same process can be followed for other file formats as well, as we’ll see in our next section on exporting PNG files. 

Can GIMP Export XCF to PNG?

Another wildly popular image file format is PNG. PNG is popular because of its resistance and high quality. So, can you export your XCF file to be a PNG file, and if so how do you do it?

GIMP also supports exporting your file as a PNG file. To do so, you simply need to follow the same steps we laid out for JPGs, except instead of choosing the JPEG format, choose PNG. 

If you think you might forget the steps involved in exporting to these various formats, feel free to bookmark this page and return anytime. 

So Really, Why Does GIMP Save Files in XCF Format?

GIMP has to save its raw files in XCF formatting because XCF can handle all of the layers and settings that are involved in a raw file. Still, it is possible to export your files into formats other than XCF.

To export a file this way, you simply need to go to “Export As” from the “File” menu and select the format you want your file to be. From there it’s as simple as following a few prompts and selecting more nuanced settings like the quality you want to export at. Best of luck!