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GIMP Troubleshooting: Tools Don’t Work – What to Do

When using GIMP, encountering issues with tools not working properly can be frustrating. In this article, we will explore common troubleshooting steps to help resolve these issues effectively.

Verify Selection Status

To verify the selection status in GIMP when the tools don’t work, simply look at the image. If there are marching ants around a certain area, it means that area is selected. If there are no marching ants, nothing is selected. To make sure your selection is accurate, use the control key in combination with your computer mouse. Hold down the control key and click on the selection area to add or subtract from the selection.

Layer Confirmation

To confirm that the layer is selected in GIMP, simply click on the layer in the Layers panel. If the layer is selected, it will be highlighted in blue. If the tools still don’t work, try double-clicking on the layer to make sure it is active. You can also try right-clicking on the layer and selecting “Make Layer Active” from the menu that appears. Another option is to click on the layer with the computer mouse while holding down the Ctrl key on the computer keyboard.

Floating Layer Identification

  • Check Layers Dialog:
    • Go to the “Windows” menu
    • Select “Dockable Dialogs”
    • Click on “Layers” to open the Layers dialog
  • Identify Floating Layers:
    • Look for layers in the Layers dialog that are not attached to any specific image
    • These floating layers may be causing issues with the tools
  • Reattach Floating Layers:
    • Click and drag the floating layers to the appropriate image in the Layers dialog
    • Make sure all layers are properly attached to an image
  • Save Changes:
    • After reattaching floating layers, save the changes to the image
    • Test if the tools are now working properly

Utilize Ctrl Button Strategy

Keyboard with Ctrl button highlighted

If the tools in GIMP are not working, try utilizing the Ctrl button strategy. Press and hold the Ctrl button while clicking on the tool that is not functioning properly. This action often resets the tool and resolves any issues. Additionally, try restarting GIMP to see if that helps. If the problem persists, consider reinstalling the software or seeking assistance on GIMP forums or from technical support.


Is GIMP compatible with Windows 10?

GIMP is compatible with Windows 10, along with other operating systems such as GNU/Linux and macOS.

Why is my eraser tool not working in GIMP?

Your eraser tool may not be working in GIMP because you have not selected the correct layer. Make sure you have the appropriate layer chosen for the eraser to work properly.

How do I reset GIMP UI?

To reset the GIMP UI, you can go to the Windows menu and select the option to reset the interface. This will restore all tools and windows to their default positions.

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