How to use The Gimp in OS X 10.5 Leopard

by Ross McKillop on November 9, 2007

Mac Multimedia Web Design & Dev

It’s your image editor of choice. You’ve upgraded to Leopard. And The Gimp no longer works for you. You can try some of the suggestions found here, or you can just download AquaGimp. Note: I can only confirm AquaGimp works on an Intel based Mac.

With any luck The Gimp will be working in all of it’s X11 glory soon, and this tutorial will become moot.

If you go the AquaGimp route (which is what I’ve resorted to for the time being) continue reading for some tips on a few ‘quirks’ I’ve discovered so far.


  1. If it seems to ‘hang’ while starting up, just click inside the load-menu a few times. Don’t ask me…
  2. When you try to change numbers via the keyboard (instead of a slider etc) or pretty much anything that involves keyboard input, hold down the key on your keyboard. Then it’ll start. Very annoying when you’re trying to save a file with a different name.
  3. If you use the Hide feature (Apple Key + H) click the gimp 2.4 icon in your dock, not the actual Gimp icon, to bring The Gimp back into focus.
  4. Don’t even bother to right-click the Gimp icon in your dock. It always appears to be in a state of “not responding” even when The Gimp itself is responsive.
  • Mike Bowie

    Thank you for a helpful site, Ross. You mention the Intel Mac. I am running an iMac G4 Power PC (the last of the beautiful pod design). Leopard has just been installed & I am desperate to find an alternative to Photoshop. Gimp sounds ideal. So if you know, or you know of someone else who might be able to solve my dilemma, I’d be eternally grateful. As with all of us: I just want to be able to work productfully without hassels – life has enough of those nasties already! Thanking you in anticipation. Sincerely, Mike.

  • Mike Bowie

    Thank you Ross for your quick reply. The XDarwin link looks too geeky for me. I used to be a Windows man & fiddled far too much (the OS invites tinkering) & while I learnt a lot I caused myself much grief. As a relatively newbe to the Mac I would rather not start experimenting with this OS – at least at this stage. I think I’d best wait for a version of Gimp I can download & use straight off. If you hear anything I’d be very grateful to know. Cheers & God bless.

  • http://www.wilber-loves-apple.org Christoph

    I am really suprised, that someone prefers the Aqua Version over the X11 version. X11 is much more stable and great stuff like drag an drop works.

    I just did AquaGimp as a Test. But i will try a new version in the next weeks :D

  • Scooter

    This really is a great workaround for Leopard! I’ve been so used to using GIMP without any trouble, that I had just assumed GIMP and Leopard would play nice – big mistake.

    This workaround saved me during a crunch to finish a project – thanks again!

  • http://jacklinguini.blogspot.com jack linguini

    I have installed the aqua-gimp from mac-ports
    in order to get printing to work. On my other
    builds of gimp 2.4x on Leopard X11 the printers
    were not showing up in the printing dialog.

    If I feel really ambitious I’ll install the
    other version of gimp from macports.

  • Muggie

    I found a complete fix to the issue. Download and install the latest XQuartz. It is a community based implementation of X11 that resolves this entire issue of Gimp not talking to the X11 in Leopard. I found this fix through Inkscape.org another X11 app. xquartz is currently up to 2.2.3. GIMP worked immediately and Inkscape needed another minor tweak to get it working that also stopped the XTerm window from appearing which I find annoying, in Inkscape it is worse as it never loaded without the fix.
    In Terminal type the following with an Enter after:
    mkdir ~/. fontconfig

    xquartz can be found at: xquartz.macosforge.org/trac/wiki

  • http://www.marnen.org Marnen Laibow-Koser

    X11 GIMP is not acceptable for anything involving advanced typographical features: although Mac fonts can be converted to X fonts, the advanced features do not survive the conversion process.

    I’ll happily use almost any other kind of application on the X11 side, but anything involving typography has to be useable on Aqua.

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