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1.7 Copy, Cut, and Paste Buffers

Copying, cutting, and pasting of layers and selections are among the most common operations in the GIMP. In this book, these operations are used extensively in Chapter 4, where they are needed for building masks; in Chapter 8, where they are used for image rendering; and in Chapter 7, where they are essential for compositing.

The commands for copying, cutting, and pasting are found in the Image:Edit menu, but they are so useful that memorizing their keyboard shortcuts is indispensable. The Copy  command can be performed by typing C-c in the image window, cutting by typing C-x,  and pasting by typing C-v.  As will be seen in Chapters 2, 3, and 4, copying, cutting, and pasting are the most expeditious methods of moving layers and selections between image windows and between layer and channel masks.

The GIMP manages copying, cutting, and pasting using buffers. Whenever a generic copy or cut is performed, it is placed into the default buffer,  replacing whatever was there. A generic paste uses the contents of the default buffer without clearing it, so the contents can be reused until they are replaced by another copy or cut operation. A copy or cut places the active layer, channel mask, or layer mask into the buffer. If a selection is active in the image window, only the part of the active layer contained in the selection is placed in the buffer.

Several special paste functions are available in the Image:Edit menu. If an image contains an active selection, the Paste Into  function places the contents of the default buffer into the selection, clipping the pasted image to the selection's boundaries.  The pasted image can be repositioned using the Move tool. The Paste As New  function places the contents of the default buffer into a new image window that has dimensions just large enough to accommodate the pasted image.

There is also a special copy function called Copy Visible.  Instead of copying the active layer to the default buffer, this function copies all the visible layers or, if a selection is active, the parts of the visible layers within the selection boundaries. If the image consists of more than one layer the copied contents are flattened, removing the layered structure, before being placed into the default buffer.

In addition to the generic, default buffer, the GIMP also has named buffers. If a large number of copy, cut, or paste operations is required, the named buffers   can be useful for organizing and distributing the pieces. Figure 1.14

Figure 1.14: Using the Copy Named Buffer
Figure 1.14

illustrates the use of named buffers. Figure 1.14(a) illustrates a circular selection that is placed into a named buffer using Copy Named , found in the Image:Edit menu. Using this function displays the dialog shown in Figure 1.14(b), where the name of the buffer is entered. Figure 1.14(c) and (d) illustrate using Copy Named, repeated for a square selection.

Pasting from a named buffer is performed using the Paste Named  command, found in the Image:Edit menu. Figure 1.15

Figure 1.15: Using the Paste Named Buffer
Figure 1.15

illustrates the dialog that appears when using this command. The contents of any named buffer can be pasted by clicking on the name in the dialog, followed by clicking on the Paste button. Buffers can be removed from the list by highlighting them and clicking on the Delete button.

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