How To Move and Reposition Selections in GIMP Photo Editor

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free and open-source image editor that allows users to edit, retouch, and manipulate photos and images. One of the most common tasks in GIMP is making selections – outlining part of an image you want to edit separately. However, you may often need to move or reposition these selections after making them. Here are some tips on how to do that in GIMP:

Moving Selections

Once you make a selection using any of the selection tools (rectangle, ellipse, free select, etc.), that selection is now an independent “floating” selection that can be moved around your image.

To move a selection:

  • Activate the Move tool in the Toolbox (keyboard shortcut M). Your cursor will change to arrows.
  • Click anywhere inside your selection and drag it to a new location on the image.
  • You can also use the arrow keys on your keyboard to nudge the selection a few pixels at a time.

Things to note:

  • Moving a selection does not affect or erase the pixels underneath. It simply repositions the outlined area.
  • You can move selections partially off the canvas. The hidden part will still be saved as part of the selection.

Repositioning Selection Edges

In addition to moving entire selections, you can also reposition the edges and handles of a selection to resize it with precision.

To reposition selection edges:

  • Activate the Scale tool in the Toolbox (keyboard shortcut Shift + S). Your cursor will change.
  • Hover over any of the square handles on the edges or corners of the selection. Your cursor will change to arrows.
  • Click and drag the handle inward or outward to shrink or expand the selection edge.
  • Use this method to tweak your selection edges so they fit your desired area perfectly.

Nudging Selections

You can also nudge active selections by single pixels with the arrow keys on your keyboard:

  • Make sure no tools are active.
  • Use Ctrl/Cmd + arrow keys to nudge selection 1 pixel at a time.
  • Use Shift + arrow keys to nudge selection 10 pixels at a time.

Nudging is useful for making micro adjustments to the positioning of selections.

Moving Selections Between Images

If you want to move a selection from one image to another in GIMP, it involves copying and pasting:

  • Make your selection on Image A.
  • Go to Edit > Copy. This copies the selected pixels.
  • Open the second image (Image B)
  • Go to Edit > Paste. This pastes the selection onto the new image.
  • You can then move the pasted selection as needed on Image B.

This lets you transfer selections between documents.

Transforming Selections

In addition to moving and resizing selections, you can also transform them:


  • Go to Tools > Transform Tools > Rotate
  • Click inside the selection and drag to rotate it.


  • Go to Tools > Transform Tools > Perspective
  • Adjust the corner handles to apply perspective distortion.

Cage transform

  • Go to Tools > Transform Tools > Cage
  • Adjust the points on the grid to warp and deform the selection.


  • Go to Tools > Transform Tools > Shear
  • Drag the vertical or horizontal axes to slant and skew the selection.

Saving Selections

If you spent time creating a complex selection, you can save it for reuse:

  • Go to Select > Save to Channel
  • Name the channel. The selection will now appear in the Channels panel.
  • To reload it later, click the channel and go to Select > Channel to Selection.

Saving selections is useful when working on multi-step compositing projects.

Important Selection Tips

Keep these tips in mind when working with selections in GIMP:

  • Use feathering (Select > Feather) to soften selection edges
  • Adjust selections by growing/shrinking by a set number of pixels (Select > Grow, Select > Shrink)
  • Invert a selection to select the unselected area instead (Select > Invert)
  • Use intersection to apply multiple selections simultaneously (Select > Intersect)
  • Always check selection edges at 100% zoom to ensure accuracy