How to Install GIMP On A Portable Device

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install-gimp-portable-deviceOne of the great things about GIMP is its portability.  Small and agile, GIMP is easily loaded on a USB thumbdrive or even ‘digital film’, then taken with you for easy use on any PC (yes, I’m afraid I’m only talking about the Windows version here).  Typically only requiring less than 30MB of space and featuring many of the tools photographers need for photo editing, Gimp is an excellent choice for the on the go photographer.  If you’ve read this far and are still wondering what GIMP is, take a look at the post GIMP – An Introduction.

Installing GIMP Portable is very easy:

Step 1 – GIMP Portable can either be downloaded as part of the large PortableApps suite, or individually.  To keep things simple, I’m going to explain just the GIMP portion.  The download files can be found on PortableApps.com’s website here.  Save the file to a recognizable location on your PC, such as the desktop.  You’ll need this location in a couple steps.

 portable_apps_logo

Step 2 – While the files are being downloaded, insert your USB device or media card.  In this case, my device will be drive K: but yours will likely be different.  Note this drive letter for later use.

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Step 3 – Find the file you downloaded in step 1 and double click it to start the install process.  First, select your preferred language, then click OK.

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Step 4 – On the following screen, click Next and then Next again.  Now the installer will ask where you wish to install GIMP.  Click Browse and select the drive from step 2 then click OK.

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Step 5 – The installer will now extract and install all the needed files to your portable drive.  Depending on the device and speed of your USB port, this process will take a few minutes.

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Step 6 – When all goes well (oh yes, all will go well for you) there will be a completion screen much like this one.

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That’s all there is to loading GIMP Portable!  To start the program itself, go to My Computer and look for the drive letter from step 2.  Double click that drive and then double click the folder GIMPPortable.  In that folder you will find a very clean install of GIMP with the main executable file named GIMPPortable.exe.  Double clicking the file starts GIMP.

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The first time GIMP Portable is run, it will take a bit longer than normal to start.  But subsequent starts will be fairly quicken if fast media is used.

And there you have it! A portable version of GIMP to take with you where ever your photo editing needs may carry you.  DPS currently has a growing library of handy tutorials featuring GIMP, including How to Find and Use Scripts in Gimp, How To Replace A Sky In GIMP, How To Remove Red Eyes With GIMP and How to Add ICC Profiles In GIMP.

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Peter West Carey leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Panama, Alaska, Seattle and Los Angeles. He is also the creator of 31 Days to Better Photography & 31 Days of Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

  • I keep GIMP Portable with me so I can edit photos when I’m not at home, which seems to happen more and more lately. Also, remember that GIMP is extensible. You can find folders for your brushes, gradients, scripts, etc… with the path GIMPPortable\App\gimp\share\gimp\2.0.

  • The title made me think that you were installing GIMP on a portable device, as in a smart phone on the similar, which made me wonder for a bit (before loading the page up).

  • Sadly, it looks like Gimp Portable has only been ported to Windows (not Linux/Unix or OS X).

  • iPhone usable?

  • Corey

    I like to put GIMP right on to my SD cards so I know I’ll have it when I need to edit my pictures.

  • Erik

    Gimp Portable is only for Windows. I’ve tried running it, and it’s pretty slow, at least for me. The performance is dependent on your system, but Gimp in general is an excellent replacement for Photoshop if you can’t afford it.

    They also have a UFRaw add-on for reading RAW files, which is very handy.

  • GIMP portable only for windows?! But it’s a Linux application!

  • Chris

    I may be wrong, but wouldn’t running an application directly from a Flash-Drive dramatically shorten the lifespan of the drive? I’ve been running a version of GIMP off a portable hard-drive which I carry with me for a couple of years now, but they don’t suffer from the same ‘burn out’ that you get with flash-drives when you work from them.

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong though.

  • To answer Chris’s question (above) Flash drives can be “volatile” – meaning that they can wear-out and suddenly go bad with extended use. It seems the larger the capacity the less-stable they may be: i.e. an 8 GB SD card should last longer than a 16 GB one. (“Longer” means more read / writes.) However, I don’t think all the data is really in on that yet – and no one seems to have any solid figures on how much usage you can expect from one. Also keep in mind that the manufacturing and design of them is constantly improving. Personally, I’ve never seen a USB, SD or CF card go bad – though I did have an old CF card go through the washer when it was left in the pocket of a pair of shorts, and it still works as good as it did when it was new about 10-years ago. (Nice and clean now, too! … though I won’t recommend this as a cleaning method.) Needless to say you wouldn’t store anything critical on one – at least not for very long. But if you backup everything as soon as you can I’d say it’s a minimal risk. Especially with a newer, name-brand card.

    I’d like to mention that MANY software titles will run from a flash drive. Irfanview is my all-time favorite Swiss Army Knife of an image/multimedia file utility, and it runs from a USB stick like a charm. I even got TopStyle Pro 4 (an extensive CSS/XHTML editor) to run from one. Search Google for “Will it run from a flash drive” – either that exact phrase, or replace “it” with the title of your choice – and see what you get!

  • Jungle Bear: GIMP isn’t a Linux application, it’s an open-source application that is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac.

  • Wendy Pollock

    Anybody still here? The portable GIMP program would only save files in a format that only GIMP could open, and the second computer could not open them without downloading GIMP onto it, making the portable GIMP application less than helpful.

  • Tessa Watkins

    I have Gimp installed on my Macintosh Maverick. Case closed 😛

  • Rick Scheibner

    For anybody still following this, Partha’s GIMP build (partha.com) installs to a USB drive natively, and includes a lot of add-ons and extra goodies not found in the original build from GIMP. No matter what build you’re using, though, you’ll want a decently fast USB drive to get the job done.

Some Older Comments

  • Wendy Pollock May 20, 2012 01:49 am

    Anybody still here? The portable GIMP program would only save files in a format that only GIMP could open, and the second computer could not open them without downloading GIMP onto it, making the portable GIMP application less than helpful.

  • Rick December 17, 2009 04:18 pm

    Jungle Bear: GIMP isn't a Linux application, it's an open-source application that is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac.

  • ArkyMark December 14, 2009 12:08 am

    To answer Chris's question (above) Flash drives can be "volatile" - meaning that they can wear-out and suddenly go bad with extended use. It seems the larger the capacity the less-stable they may be: i.e. an 8 GB SD card should last longer than a 16 GB one. ("Longer" means more read / writes.) However, I don't think all the data is really in on that yet - and no one seems to have any solid figures on how much usage you can expect from one. Also keep in mind that the manufacturing and design of them is constantly improving. Personally, I've never seen a USB, SD or CF card go bad - though I did have an old CF card go through the washer when it was left in the pocket of a pair of shorts, and it still works as good as it did when it was new about 10-years ago. (Nice and clean now, too! ... though I won't recommend this as a cleaning method.) Needless to say you wouldn't store anything critical on one - at least not for very long. But if you backup everything as soon as you can I'd say it's a minimal risk. Especially with a newer, name-brand card.

    I'd like to mention that MANY software titles will run from a flash drive. Irfanview is my all-time favorite Swiss Army Knife of an image/multimedia file utility, and it runs from a USB stick like a charm. I even got TopStyle Pro 4 (an extensive CSS/XHTML editor) to run from one. Search Google for "Will it run from a flash drive" - either that exact phrase, or replace "it" with the title of your choice - and see what you get!

  • Chris December 12, 2009 02:39 pm

    I may be wrong, but wouldn't running an application directly from a Flash-Drive dramatically shorten the lifespan of the drive? I've been running a version of GIMP off a portable hard-drive which I carry with me for a couple of years now, but they don't suffer from the same 'burn out' that you get with flash-drives when you work from them.

    Someone correct me if I'm wrong though.

  • junglebear December 11, 2009 05:38 am

    GIMP portable only for windows?! But it's a Linux application!

  • Erik December 11, 2009 03:32 am

    Gimp Portable is only for Windows. I've tried running it, and it's pretty slow, at least for me. The performance is dependent on your system, but Gimp in general is an excellent replacement for Photoshop if you can't afford it.

    They also have a UFRaw add-on for reading RAW files, which is very handy.

  • Corey December 11, 2009 03:28 am

    I like to put GIMP right on to my SD cards so I know I'll have it when I need to edit my pictures.

  • Jason Collin Photography December 11, 2009 01:33 am

    iPhone usable?

  • dcclark December 10, 2009 02:21 am

    Sadly, it looks like Gimp Portable has only been ported to Windows (not Linux/Unix or OS X).

  • Andrew December 10, 2009 01:10 am

    The title made me think that you were installing GIMP on a portable device, as in a smart phone on the similar, which made me wonder for a bit (before loading the page up).

  • Rick December 10, 2009 01:08 am

    I keep GIMP Portable with me so I can edit photos when I'm not at home, which seems to happen more and more lately. Also, remember that GIMP is extensible. You can find folders for your brushes, gradients, scripts, etc... with the path GIMPPortable\App\gimp\share\gimp\2.0.

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