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How to Open Raw Images in Gimp Using UFRaw

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There are many editing programs out there, but they come at a cost. Some of them are expensive to buy outright. Others have a pay-per-month fee.

If you’re a hobbyist photographer, you don’t need expensive subscriptions to editing Software.
GIMP and UFRaw are two completely free programs.

In this article, we’ll show you how to use UFRaw to open raw images in GIMP.

A screenshot showing how to use UFRaw to open raw images in GIMP

What Is UFRaw?

GIMP is the software, but you’ll need UFRaw to open and work on raw format files. It converts the images so you can work on them.

The Unidentified Flying Raw (UFRaw) is a program that reads raw files for you. It works both as a standalone program and as a plug-in.

Raw images need a particular program or plug-in to be read and UFRaw is such software. It reads raw images and allows you to convert them. Once converted, they are free for further editing in GIMP.

This program has a public license. Not only is it free, but it is in constant renewal. People all around the world contribute to making this program better, faster, and with more options.

What Is GIMP?

The GIMP program is a cross-platform image editor, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It is free and will allow you to change and share any modifications to its operating source code.

It is fully customisable. You’ll find it is easy to move and push away tools and areas you will not require.

GIMP is great for keeping only the things you need, speeding up your workflow process.

A screenshot showing the GIMP editing software interface

Downloading GIMP & UFRaw

NB: A note before you download it. UFRaw can be used as a standalone program and not needed with GIMP. You may decide to use GIMP to edit your images, but you won’t need it for Raw conversion. 

Having GIMP isn’t enough to open a Raw image. If you attempt to open a Raw file within GIMP, it will tell you there is no Raw uploader. Some websites will tell you this will work, but I found this information to be wrong.

Downloading GIMP for Windows & Mac

Step 1 – Go to
Step 2 – Go to the Download tab at the top
Step 3 – Click on the orange button ‘Download GIMP directly’. It will automatically show you the operating system you are using, but you can change it.
Step 4 – Open the downloaded file
Step 5 – Install by clicking ‘OK’

Downloading UFRaw for Windows

Step 1 – Go to
step 2 – Go to Download & Install
Step 3 – Scroll down to MS-Windows
Step 4 – Look for ‘MS-Windows for dummies’
Step 5 – Click on the link in the first line
Step 6 – The page will re-locate and will automatically download it for you
Step 7 – Open the downloaded file
Step 8 – Install by clicking OK
A screenshot showing how to download UFRaw for windows

Downloading UFRaw for Mac

Step 1 – Go to
step 2 – Go to Download & Install
Step 3 – Scroll down to Macintosh
Step 4 – Look for ‘GIMP on OS X application bundle’. This will include UFRaw as a plug-in alongside GIMP.
Step 5 – Click on the link in the first line
Step 6 – The page will re-locate and will automatically download it for you
Step 7 – Open the downloaded file
Step 8 – Install by clicking OKA screenshot showing how to download UFRaw for mac

Using UFRaw With GIMP

From installing and opening both programs, I found it challenging to connect the two programs. I did some quick research regarding this, and most articles proposed opening raw files in GIMP.

When you have UFRaw installed, GIMP should pick up the raw files when you open them using File>Open and locating a raw file.

This didn’t work for me, instead, pushing me to download Darktable or RawTherapee. I don’t want to use these, as UFRaw should do this for me.

I tried this route with UFRaw being open and closed, and couldn’t work it out. There doesn’t seem to be a way to tell GIMP that I have UFRaw installed.

From now on, we will only look at UFRaw for the raw file conversion. You can read our article on GIMP Vs. Photoshop here.

Using UFRaw

Starting directly from UFRaw, you’ll be presented with the file selection window. You can locate one image, or select multiple files.

Open the image. NB: You’ll only see raw files in the browser.

When you open your raw image, you will get blasted with a lot of sliders and options. Don’t be put off.

Your image will open on the right, and all of the adjustments are on the left. From the top, we see:

  • Raw Histogram
  • Exposure Slider
  • Multiple tabs for adjustments
  • A panel that changes depending on the selected adjustment tab
  • Histogram showing any changes to the image

On the far bottom right, we see the Options, Delete, Cancel, Save, and Open commands for UFRaw.

The zooming options are located directly under the image.

A screenshot showing how to open raw images in gimp using UFRaw

What Is the Colour Space?

Colour space can be an essential part of your workflow. If you are interested in the differences between the two different colour spaces, we have the sRGB Vs. AdobeRGB article for you to read.

By default, UFRaw loads the sRGB colour space. There is a possibility to change this to AdobeRGB, but it needs to be downloaded and loaded into UFRaw first.

You only need to do this once. It might be better to do it at the beginning and get it out of the way. Keep in mind that if you do change the colour space, you may have to change it back for printing or web usage.

Changing/Installing the Colour Space

If you want to add AdobeRGB colour space for more flexible editing, you can find its ICC profile here. It will download automatically.

Find the tab named Colour Management. Choose ‘Open Folder’ and select the ICC profile you have just saved.

Select the AdobeRGB1998.icc file. Open it. You’ll see AdobeRGB as an option in the drop-down menu.

A screenshot showing how to open raw images in gimp using UFRaw

Best Features for Raw Conversions

Let’s look at the most straightforward editing that will help boost your image quickly. I could go into all the edits one-by-one, but that’s for another article.

You can experiment all you want with UFRaw, take your time and play around. That’s how you learn.

The key areas are as follows:

Exposure Value Settings (EV)

The exposure section is at the top. Increasing the value adds more light, and decreasing makes the image darker.

If you want to see what UFRaw would select as an automatic correct exposure balance, click on the ‘gears’ icon. To reset this auto exposure, click on the ‘bulb’ icon, or change the Exposure Value back to ‘0’.

A screenshot showing how to open raw images in gimp using UFRaw

White Balance

When it comes to white balance, UFRaw uses the camera’s default setting. You can change this by clicking the selector, and then selecting something from the drop-down menu.

You can find all the usual white balance settings you’d expect. These include manual, auto, daylight, shade, cloudy, tungsten, fluorescent, and flash.

Similarly to Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw, you can use the eyedropper tool to pick a grey point from the photo.

Select it, left-click on the part of the image you want to be grey, then click back on the eyedropper tool. UFRaw will change the white balance so that the selected point’s original RGB value will be clean grey. Luminance will not change.

A screenshot showing how to open raw images in gimp using UFRaw

Crop and Resize

The other two functions that can be helpful are the crop and resize tools. These are on the ‘set square and scissor’ icon.

The ratio selector located in the middle is probably the handiest tool to use. You may have to click on the ‘lock/unlock’ padlock icon to change it.

To adjust crop, hover over the edge of the image until small arrows appear. Click and drag in the edges. You can set an aspect ratio, or crop freely. You have several grid options, too, for better composition.

You can also rotate the photo in the crop function. It works very similarly to Lightroom. Furthermore, you have the option to adjust the grid density for more accurate rotation.

A screenshot showing how to open raw images in gimp using UFRaw

Saving Your Image

Click on the save tab, shown by a ‘pencil and floppy disk’ icon. Once you do, you have a few options.

  • Path. By default, it’s the same as the original raw file’s location. This can be changed using the arrow on the right.
  • File Name. This is where the name goes. You can change the format here to PPM, PNG, TIF, or JPEG.
  • JPEG compression level. A scale from 1 to 100, changes the hardness of compression. The smaller you choose the smaller your file will be but at the cost of quality.
  • JPEG progressive encoding. UFRaw will use multiple scans of the raw file when exporting. Takes longer to process, but allows for smaller file size while retaining quality.
  • TIFF lossless compress. If you choose TIFF format for exporting, tick this. It reduces file size (which could be large!) without sacrificing valuable image data.
  • Embed EXIF data in output. Allows you to keep or discard exposure information in the exported photos. If you choose ’embed’, UFRaw will add creation date, camera settings, copyright data and more information.
  • Create ID file. Adds a sidecar file that contains all of the changes and edit information. Similar to the XMP sidecars in Adobe Camera Raw.
  • Save Image Defaults. You can decide whether you want to keep the latest export settings as default. We recommend to set it to Never again after you figured out your favourite standard settings.
  • Remember output path. If you tick this, next time UFRaw will export any image to this path, no matter where that image is located.
  • Overwrite existing files without asking. This sets what will happen when you export two images with the same file name to the same folder. If you tick it, the later one will replace the first.

When you are ready, save the image with the ‘save’ icon in the bottom right, or click on the ‘GIMP’ icon to open the image in GIMP.
Since I had the UFRaw error activating Gimp, I did it manually.

A screenshot showing how to saw raw images in gimp


UFRaw is an excellent program for editing your raw files. It has a lot of things that you would want to use. And it’s free.

It’s a little tricky to install, and the first pages that pop up can be confusing, especially if you are using a Mac. It is also available for Linux users.

The processing interface is minimal, which is fine. But things felt a little clunky. The sliders were a little too sensitive, and the preview changed drastically between the smallest adjustments.

What I feel is missing are any sharpening features. You can do this later, but if you don’t want to use any other editing program, this should be possible.

I do like the fact that the learning curve is short enough to start straight away.

Check out this tutorial video on how to install UFRaw on Windows


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