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Actions? Aren’t all the menus, dialog boxes and commands enough, why would you want actions?
Well if you do any kind of task repeatedly inside GIMP – like resizing images to a particular size, adding your site’s watermark or the “friendly admin” to the images like Karl does, or you want to add some functionality that is not already or directly provided by GIMP, you should consider using actions to simplify and reduce the number of steps involved.
In the GIMP world however, such actions are called scripts and these are analogous to Photoshop Actions and Macros inside Microsoft Office.
How to use scripts and plugins
Search and Download
First of you will need to find a script that meets your requirements. You can create your own scripts in Python, Perl or Scheme, however if you are not the programmer type, there are all kinds of scripts all over the Internet. Just head over to Google and type in your requirements.
In particular, GIMP Plugin Registry is an excellent place to go to search for scripts and plugins.
Generally you are required to unarchive the downloaded file and copy them to ~/.gimp/scripts directory or /usr/share/gimp/2.0/scripts if you want the scripts to be available to all users. You can also find out the location by going to Edit > Preferences > Folders > Scripts if you want to be sure.
You might need to refer to the documentation or author’s site in case this is not what is required. Once you have copied the scripts to the appropriate directories, go to Filters>Script-Fu>Refresh Scripts or restart GIMP altogether.
Depending on what the script does and how it plans to do it, you might see a dedicated menu in the menu bar for your script, or a menu entry under the appropriate bar, or a right click context menu entry activated when the script’s functionality is applicable.
Plugins vs Scripts
You might be wondering which of the two I am talking about. Plugins and Scripts are the two ways to extend GIMP’s functionality. What is the difference? I am not sure either. Apart from the obvious differences in the way these are developed and used, plugins and scripts tend to provide overlapping functionality and the terms are used interchangeably on forums and other GIMP hangouts.
How to create your own plugins
Here is a nice tutorial to get you started. Once you know the syntax start hacking into the scripts that are already available on your systems (shipped by default with GIMP). You can then develop your skill further from here on.
Some Great Scripts/Plugins
While you would have to wait till another day for a list of some of the best plugins out there, here are some recommendations to get you started: The Fx-Foundry Scripts Pack – A collection of useful scripts to perform a variety of tasks, from animations to layer styles and more, Mask for Prints – A very useful plugin that shows you what part of your photo will be printed on the current paper size, UFRaw – For working with RAW files.
Do you use plugins and scripts to good effect in GIMP? I find them one of the most important features. What plugins do you use? Have you written your own scripts? Mention them in the comments and let us check them out.