How to Use Photoshop Plugins in GIMP

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How to Use Photoshop Plugins in GIMP

With little effort, you can use Photoshop-compatible plugins in GIMP. While Adobe Photoshop is a commercial product, there are many free Photoshop-compatible plugins available online.

There are already many GIMP plugins offered for free on the web, but the ability to use Photoshop plugins in GIMP opens up an even larger range of options for GIMP users.

Installing Photoshop plugins in GIMP actually requires that you install a plugin called PSPI, produced and offered for free by Tor Lillqvist.

Do note that not all Photoshop plugins will be compatible with GIMP after installing the PSPI plugin and you should test each one.

The following steps will take you through the process of using Photoshop plugins in GIMP on Windows.

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Install the PSPI Plugin

The very first thing you will need to do is download the PSPI plugin from Tor Lillqvist's website. You'll find the download links to the bottom of that page. Once you've downloaded a copy of the PSPI plugin, you will need to unzip the file so that you can install it into your copy of GIMP.

GIMP has a specific folder designed to hold all plugins and you can navigate to it using Windows Explorer. The path to the folder on my machine is C > Program Files > GIMP-2.0 > lib > gimp > 2.0 > plug-ins and it should be something similar on your PC also. You now just need to open that plug-ins folder and move or copy the pspi.exe file that you downloaded and unzipped.

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Specify Folder for Photoshop Plugins

Now you need to tell GIMP where to look for the Photoshop plugins that you will be using.

I added a folder inside the GIMP-2.0 folder in Program Files as I think it makes sense to store the plugins with GIMP, but you can select elsewhere if you prefer. Just ensure you remember the path to the folder.

Now open GIMP - if GIMP was already running when you installed PSPI, you will need to close it and relaunch GIMP. Go to Filters > Photoshop Plug-in Settings and, in the dialog that opens, click the New button, on the left, and then Folder button on the right. You can now navigate to the folder you have set up for plugins and select it. In future, when GIMP is launched, it will look in this folder for plugins and add them to the Filters menu.

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Add Photoshop Plugins to Your New Folder

Now that you have configured GIMP to accept Photoshop plugins, you will need some plugins in order to test it out. Sue has a round up of free Photoshop plugins that should get you started.

Some plugins come with an installer and with these, you just specify your plugins folder as the install location. If they don't have an installer, you need to copy or move the .8bf files to your plugins folder and that is what I did with the Flaming Pear Freebies that I downloaded. In the case of the Freebies, they come with 64bit versions as well as 32bit versions, but as GIMP is 32bit, you don't need to copy any of the plugins that have a file name ending 64bit.8bf. If you do copy these, you will get a non-fatal error message whenever you launch GIMP.

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Test Your Photoshop Plugins

In an ideal world you should test each Photoshop plugin that you install in GIMP to ensure it works as expected. You should be aware that some Photoshop plugins may not function correctly in GIMP.

To try out your new plugins, go to the Filters menu and look for your plugins – they will normally be near the bottom of the menu. In the image, you can see the Flaming Pear menu item and by hovering on that the full list of filter effects is displayed. Clicking on a filter should apply that effect to the image if all is working correctly.