Periodically I've been trying to get Gimp to work correctly on an iMac 5K the last couple of years. I've tried many times (and versions) without success. I've tried the latest version 2.8.16 (which runs outside X11) still without success. The program "runs" just fine, but anything I touch with it gets pixellated.

I know it's related to how Mac's retina displays work. Take a screenshot using Gimp on Mac and it immediately appears at twice the resolution. Take a screenshot using Preview, everything looks fine.

But here's the kicker. Open that "fine" screenshot in Gimp, and it's still twice the resolution. I haven't found any way to "work" with an image in it's native resolution (where a pixel is a pixel).

For comparison I've set up a Linux VM (Lubuntu) and configured it so that it's not "DPI confused" (basically tell VirtualBox not to scale anything and modify the DPI setting on the X server to have some sane values for DPI so at least text looks somewhat normal - icons are still tiny though).

I've merged a screenshot with "Mac native" Gimp on the left and "Linux VM" Gimp to the right, and told Gimp to load the same screenshot and display it at 100% on both.

A couple of observations; If I display the image at 200% on the Linux VM, it looks identical to the native Mac version. But I have found no way to do the opposite (have Mac native Gimp display an image at 100% resolution and get it to display at the proper size similar to the Linux VM version).

I've mucked around with the DPI settings in Preferences on the Mac native Gimp as well. It doesn't seem to do anything noticeable to the image being edited; it mostly seems to affect the Gimp GUI itself (text).

Googling around there are all kinds of "fixes", which basically involve downscaling the image in Gimp to get it at the proper size. The problem is that this actually removes halves the pixels and make everything look blurry.

Based on this I've concluded there is no way to edit images with the current Mac release of Gimp at 100% size on retina displays (where a pixel is a pixel).

Am I wrong, and if so, any hints on what I should be doing differently?


Marius K.

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