I have the following image, which I open in gimp:

Image That I'm Using

I then use the rectangle selection tool to select a character and copy the selection. When I use paste new image, I get a new image that is exactly the same size as my selection, but it contains an empty transparent layer, instead of what I (thought) copied. I've tried merging the visible layers (even though there is only one) and what not, but nothing seems to change the outcome. I've never had this problem with other images before.

Any idea what is going on and how I can get gimp to copy/paste my section?

  • I have tried it on two separate OSX machines. Apr 9, 2013 at 20:46
  • 1
    Yeah. I ended up getting around the issue by cropping the image in Preview and then cutting from the new image that Preview created. I'd still like to know why Gimp isn't behaving as expected though. Just when I think I'm getting the hang of it, something like this happens. Apr 10, 2013 at 22:14
  • What happens if you try to paste as a new layer, instead of as a new image?
    – Sekhemty
    Apr 16, 2013 at 22:12
  • 1
    An empty layer is pasted. May 2, 2013 at 18:30

8 Answers 8


Same thing happened to me, the non-Python build is broken on OSX. You have to install the one with the extras, current link is http://gimp.lisanet.de/Website/Download.html .

  • 1
    The link is broken
    – Joop
    Sep 25, 2021 at 14:27

Be sure you are selecting the layer with the image, because if for any reason there is another layer (maybe you could have created accidentally) and this layer is not in the area you are selecting, it could seems to you like an empty transparent layer.

In this case, delete this layer and use this from another superuser answer: How do I use the Selection tool to move things in GIMP?

  • Thanks for pointing this out! This issue was driving me crazy!
    – Ryan
    Dec 9, 2016 at 23:31

I'm having this issue too with Gimp 2.8.10 on OSX. Seems like a bug. Quitting the program and restarting it solved it for me. Merely closing and re-opening the image wasn't enough.

  • Thanks for this.. forehead was bloody knowing i'm a Gimp noob :-D
    – ilasno
    Apr 4, 2019 at 3:53

I know it's an old thread but here's how I sorted it. I was zoomed in the lower quadrant of the image and GIMP pasted the clipboard onto the top-left corner. So clicking on the pasted layer only showed the copied area.

To see the pasted image, zoom out to see the whole image!

Hope help someone save some time.


I seem to have the same issue in the Windows build, I think it's a bug. The image is actually copied just fine (try pasting it in Paint) but GIMP pastes empty rectangles for some reason. Once your image is in this state, it's impossible to fix it, even saving and restarting GIMP doesn't help, nor do any of the usual workarounds like manually creating a new layer or pasting via Paint. For me, it was the straw that broke the camel's back; I should still have an old version of Photoshop lying around somewhere and I'll use that. I recommend you switch to a different program too.


I have the same issue, trying to copy/paste slice of image in empty space after canvas resize. After some time, I realize that Gimp OSX not show the part of pasted image only inside of new canvas.

To fix, need to save canvas changes before copy/paste :

1) I reset all changes, reload image, change canvas, save it, close image

2) I reload image, select part of image, now copy/paste works fine.

  • Can't you create a new layer from the pasted floating selection? Feb 23, 2015 at 17:59

Possibly you need to use 'Copy Visible' not 'Copy'. Copy seems to disregard the selection and copy the whole image instead. [No idea what happens when layers are selected but not visible, or vice versa; in previous experience it has been important to ensure careful selection of layer(s) whenever something doesn't behave as expected, but I found this problem with a single layer.]

If the entire image is copied and pasted over the entire image then the result will be no change, which may be what you are seeing. [GIMP seems to have a strange idea of what a selection is for the purpose of copy and paste, amongst other misnomenclature.]

  • No, GIMP doesn't do what you describe - it takes the selection into account when copying. Can you describe how to reproduce the issue? Feb 23, 2015 at 17:58

This answer is a bit delayed, but when you create a new layer double-check the opacity. It may be 0%, and therefore what you paste will not be visible.

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