While trying to quit the GIMP image editor, I inadvertently clicked the cross on the main toolbox (the one with selection/painting tools, etc). Now, the toolbox seems to be permanently lost, even after restarting. Is there anything I can do to get it back, or alternatively, how can I reconstruct it?

I'm using version 2.8.2 on Windows XP, with the multiple window layout.

  • 1
    Can you please tell us what version of GIMP you are using, and more importantly if you are using Single-Window Mode? Sep 15, 2013 at 5:58
  • I've added the info to my question. Thanks for informing me that a single-window mode exists!
    – mwfearnley
    Sep 15, 2013 at 16:50
  • 1
    Gimp should fix this, it should not be a question that some 372,000 people need to google.
    – stevec
    Jun 26, 2021 at 8:47

6 Answers 6


There are two possible solutions I can see:

  1. If the GIMP session is still open, restore the toolbox you just closed by going to Windows -> Recently Closed Docks, and it should be there in the list. Windows -> Recently Closed Docks -> Toolbox - Tool Options

  2. Otherwise, go to Edit -> Preferences in the Window Management section, and press the Reset Saved Window Positions to Default Values button. If you customised either of your palettes (or added new ones), then this method will lose those changes. Edit -> Preferences -> Window Management -> Reset Saved Window Positions to Default Values

To prevent this happening in future, you can uncheck the Save window positions on exit checkbox (same page), so the toolbox always reappears when you restart GIMP, no matter if you closed it earlier or not.

  • 1
    I was having trouble getting #2 to stick, but it seemed to work if I did it while no image was opened.
    – fmoo
    Sep 8, 2016 at 17:13
  • 2
    +1 Thanks, this helped! Somehow I accidently made my image take up the whole screen, and all the side toolboxes docked disappeared. Your technique helped, but any idea what key combination caused the enlargement accompanied by loss of toolboxes? thanks! Feb 2, 2018 at 15:04
  • 1
    Add a similar issue on the Windows version of GIMP, I wasn't able to bring back many of the tool windows. I suspect that for some reason some window size might have been save with zero or invalid size. Resetting all preferences worked for me.
    – Rastikan
    May 12, 2020 at 22:05
  • 2
    Nice answer. I have to nominate as the worst user interface design ever.
    – user193478
    Apr 21, 2021 at 14:37

Pressing TAB is the toggle for Hide Docks. Which totally removes the toolbox from view. It's very easy to hit on accident. Try this to see if you've hidden your toolbox.

  • Thanks. I ended up accidentally pressing TAB and it's almost impossible to get it back. Very unintuitive design, but with your tip, I'm back in business.
    – Tolga
    Jul 31, 2021 at 3:16
  • This should be the accepted answer.
    – Coxy
    Apr 4, 2023 at 9:43

This is what the default dialogs look like:

GIMP Toolboxes

The main Toolbox is actually quite easy to recreate - it's just the Toolbox dialog (you can create a new one with Ctrl-B or Windows -> New Toolbox if you don't have one), with a Tool Options tab beneath it. Resize the toolbox until a space appears beneath it where you can drop dockable dialogs, then goto Windows -> Dockable Dialogs -> Tool Options, and drag the new dialog's tab into the space.

The other dialog contains four tabs in the top pane: Layers | Channels | Paths | Undo

and three in the bottom pane: Brushes | Patterns | Gradients

Start with the top pane: open the Layers dialog, then open up the Channels/Paths/Undo dialogs (from Windows -> Dockable Dialogs) and drag their tabs in next to the Layers tab.

Then to create the bottom pane, open the Brushes dialog and drag its tab to the very bottom of the dialog window (just above the window border), and the dialog will split into two panes with Brushes at the bottom. Patterns and Gradients can then be opened and dragged into the bottom pane.


From the GIMP menu select Windows -> Toolbox and the Toolbox window will reappear.

  • 1
    On my version (2.8.2), I see Windows -> New Toolbox (Ctrl+B), which produces a thin vertical palette of the tools, without any of the additional palettes. I see also Windows -> Recently Closed Docks, but it's empty.
    – mwfearnley
    Sep 15, 2013 at 16:54
  • In the lower right-hand corner of the Toolbox window there is a blue button surrounded by a yellow arrow that says if you mouseover it: "Reset to default values Shift Reset all tool options".
    – karel
    Sep 15, 2013 at 22:24
  • 1
    The accepted answer of resetting the preferences did not work for me on OS X version. Thank you for the simple solution. Nov 14, 2014 at 15:51

You might need to click Windows -> Hide Docks:



For GIMP 2, when I installed 2.8.18 on Windows 10, there wasn't even a ToolBox showing, and I couldn't find how to enable it in View or Preferences.

I'm not sure if this is a bug, but if it's not it's a terrible default-UX.

Anyway, if you're in the same boat, just go to your action bar at the top and select Windows -> New ToolBox

There! Now you aren't using a visual editor relying on menu traversal and keyboard shortcuts...

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