New Pattern

Creates a new, empty universe and switches to a scale suitable for editing cells. Use Preferences > File to set the scale (initially 1:32), the cursor mode, and whether any selection should be removed.

Open Pattern...

Opens the standard file browser so you can select a pattern file. Golly can read all the common pattern formats: RLE, PC Life 1.05/1.06, dblife, some MCell files, and text patterns like "". It can also read patterns in a "macrocell" format which allows huge, highly repetitive patterns to be stored in a very compact way. Such files usually have a .mc extension. If a .mc file contains timeline data then Golly will load all the frames and automatically show the timeline bar.

All the above formats are text based and can have DOS/Mac/Unix line endings, or they can be compressed in a .gz file.

Golly can also read graphic files in a number of popular formats: BMP, GIF, PNG and TIFF. The file name must end with an appropriate extension: .bmp, .gif, .png, .tif or .tiff. All the pure white pixels (RGB = 255,255,255) are treated as cells of state 0. All other pixels are treated as cells of state 1. This can be handy if you prefer to use a sophisticated drawing program to create your patterns.

Use Preferences > File to set the cursor mode, and whether any selection should be removed.

Open Clipboard

Opens a pattern stored in the clipboard. The References section has links to a number of good sources for clipboard patterns.

If the clipboard text starts with "@RULE rulename" then Golly will save the text as rulename.rule in your rules folder (set in Preferences > Control) and switch to that rule.

Open Recent

This submenu lets you open a recently loaded pattern file. The most recent file is always at the top. The maximum number of pattern files remembered is determined by a setting (initially 20) which you can change in Preferences > File.

Save Pattern...

Opens the standard file saving dialog so you can save the current pattern in RLE format (but only if all live cells are within coordinates of +/- 1 billion), or in macrocell format if the current algorithm supports hashing (all algorithms except QuickLife). Note that if a timeline exists when you save a .mc file then all the frames will be stored in the file.

You also have the option of saving patterns as compressed files (.rle.gz or .mc.gz).

Save Extended RLE

If ticked, Golly will include additional information whenever it saves a pattern in an RLE file via the above Save Pattern item or the save/store script commands. The pattern's position is recorded, along with the current generation count if it's greater than zero. This allows Golly to restore the pattern's position and generation count when the file is loaded at a later date. The extra information is stored in a special "#CXRLE" comment line at the start of the file. Because it's a comment, other RLE-reading programs should have no problem loading such files.

Note that if the current grid is bounded (ie. has a finite width or height) then Golly ignores this item's setting and always records the pattern's position so it can be restored when the file is loaded.

Run Script...

Opens the standard file browser so you can run a selected Lua or Python script. Such scripts can be used to automate or extend Golly's user interface, or to construct complex patterns. A number of sample scripts are provided in the Scripts folder. More details about Golly's scripting capabilities can be found in the Lua Scripting and Python Scripting help topics.

Run Clipboard

Runs the Lua or Python code stored in the clipboard.

Run Recent

This submenu lets you run a recently executed script file. The most recent script is always at the top. The maximum number of scripts remembered is determined by a setting (initially 20) which you can change in Preferences > File.

Show Files

If ticked then a scrollable folder is displayed in a panel to the left of the viewport. The initial location is the folder containing the Golly application and all the supplied patterns, scripts and rules. Clicking on a pattern file will display it in the viewport, clicking on a .lua/.py script will run it, and clicking on a .rule file will switch to that rule. See Hints and Tips for a good way to organize the Golly folder so you can quickly access your own patterns/rules/scripts and make it easy to upgrade to a newer version of Golly.

Set File Folder...

Lets you change the folder displayed by Show Files (see above).


Opens the Preferences dialog so you can change various settings. All your settings are stored in a file called GollyPrefs. This file is initially saved in a user-specific data directory:

On Linux: ~/.golly/
On Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/Golly/
On Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Golly\
On Windows 7+: C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Golly\

You might prefer to move GollyPrefs into the same folder as the application. This allows multiple copies of Golly to have their own set of preferences.

Notes for Mac users: On the Mac, the Preferences item is in the application menu, not the File menu. On newer Macs the ~/Library folder might be invisible, so to get access to GollyPrefs just use the "Go to Folder..." command in the Finder's Go menu and paste in "~/Library/Application Support/Golly".