Paint.NET: The Best Image Editor Available That You Should Download

Paint.NET logo1   Paint.NET: The Best Image Editor Available That You Should DownloadWe all edit images to some degree. Whether it’s a simple crop or resize, or maybe just adding some text, it’s nice to have an image editor that is reliable, fast, easy to navigate and assists you in getting the job done quickly. There are a lot of fancy image editors available such as the well-known Adobe Photoshop and even the quite popular GIMP, along with many others (free and premium). These are full-fledge image editors however, and often more than what the average user needs.

Paint.NET offers the happy medium between a giant image editing program and the wimpy little Paint application that is included in Windows. In fact, Paint.NET was initially created to be a replacement for it and has grown to something much more extravagant, even being compared to big, expensive programs like Photoshop, Corel and Paint Shop Pro. Although it continues to improve and add features, it has remained easy to use by keeping its simple interface.


It would be an understatement to say that Paint.NET has good features. Paint.NET has great, fantastic, amazing features – especially considering how light it is.

Here’s a list of its most prominent specialties:

  • Simple, Intuitive Interface
  • Keyboard Shortcuts
  • Performance
  • Layers
  • Online Community
    • Tutorials
    • Plugins
  • Updated Automatically
  • Special Effects
  • Variety of Powerful Tools
  • Endless Action History
  • Free

Simple, Intuitive Interface

1 Simple UI1   Paint.NET: The Best Image Editor Available That You Should Download

It’s already been covered a couple times throughout this article – the interface is wonderful. Paint.NET uses Windows’ Aero look, which allows users who may be less familiar with image editing programs to feel right at home. It’s easy to find what you need. On the sides there are four windows – Tools, History, Colors and Layers. These can be removed and added by going to Window at the top and selecting them in the drop-down menu.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Shortcuts with arrows   Paint.NET: The Best Image Editor Available That You Should Download

You know a program is great whenever there are literally shortcuts for everything. I am in no way a master of them in Paint.NET – however can you imagine how much more efficient you could become if you knew all of those? The great thing is that they are displayed whenever you hover over the tool and are displayed alongside the effects and commands in the drop-down menus.


Paint.NET is fast. Plain and simple. It really doesn’t matter what kind of computer you have, whether it’s a powerhouse or a desktop, or a small netbook – Paint.NET will run fast. In my experience using it, even on computers where it’s clear they have issues, Paint.NET has flourished and not had any problems itself.

Now that’s not to say that it will never crash — you can never guarantee that with any program on a computer. But you’ll be impressed. Let’s keep it at that.


It’s pretty impressive that a program like Paint.NET has a layers function. This is typically a feature that is only available in expensive, photo editing software. You should feel quite fortunate that this is available. Features like this one are what sets Paint.NET apart from the other free image editors available. If you’re unsure what layers are, they are simply a means to separate different elements in a digital image.

Online Community

Online Forum   Paint.NET: The Best Image Editor Available That You Should Download

Paint.NET has an active online community made up of all levels of users who interact on a daily basis. This makes solving problems and answering questions that you may have quite helpful, let alone fast!

There are two other key features to the Paint.NET Forum:

There’s no doubt that both of these, combined with the backing of Paint.NET’s community, make it even more useful. Similar to how a service is often valued not only by what it is, but by the quality of customer service, a piece of software is often of more value with an active community supporting it every step of the way.

Updated Automatically

Update Options   Paint.NET: The Best Image Editor Available That You Should Download

There’s no reason to worry if you have the most current version of Paint.NET – by default it checks for you. If you go to the Update Options (pictured above) you can also enable pre-release beta version updates. Remember that beta versions are typically less stable than other versions, so keep that in mind.

If you’d like to manually check updates, simply go to the Utilities drop-down menu and click “Check for Updates.” It will scan for any new updates.

Utilities Check for updates   Paint.NET: The Best Image Editor Available That You Should Download

To view additional options (although few) like enabling beta version updates, click “Options.”

Manually check for updates   Paint.NET: The Best Image Editor Available That You Should Download

Special Effects

There are a plethora of effects that you can do with images in Paint.NET and I certainly can’t list them all. That said, they range from enhancing images with blurring or red-eye removal to adjustments to tweak the image’s contrast and color tone.

Below are a few examples of how special effects can completely change an image.

Initial Image:

Special Effects Initial Image   Paint.NET: The Best Image Editor Available That You Should Download

Bulge Effect:

Special Effects Bulge   Paint.NET: The Best Image Editor Available That You Should Download

Soften Portrait Effect:

Special Effects Soften Portrait   Paint.NET: The Best Image Editor Available That You Should Download

Pencil Sketch Effect:

Special Effects Pencile Sketch   Paint.NET: The Best Image Editor Available That You Should Download

Variety of Powerful Tools

Paint.NET doesn’t just stop at special effects. There is a great assortment of tools from the Gradient tool, new in version 3.0, to the Recolor tool. There are many tools at your disposal and the best way to become familiar with them is to simply play around and discover all they can do. But, remember that there are tutorials to help you as well.

Tools   Paint.NET: The Best Image Editor Available That You Should Download

Endless Action History

For each action done to an image, a history is stored. Not only is there unlimited history, but also unlimited “undo’s” and “redo’s.” It’s always frustrating when you make a mistake and have to go back and fix it, only to find that it can no longer be undone. This solves the problem.

History   Paint.NET: The Best Image Editor Available That You Should Download

It’s Free!

This is probably the best part!  Being free is the icing on the cake.


Paint.NET is hands down, one of the best, if not the best image editor in its class. It breaks down the barrier between a simple image editor and giant image editing software, without breaking your wallet or your computer. For more examples on what Paint.NET can do, check out the screenshots.

Do you use Paint.NET?  How has it been useful for you?  Or if you don’t like it and prefer another program, tell us why.

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Michael Jan Moratalla

I’ll try this one I need a photo editing that is not that a burden to use every time I need it gimp is to unfamiliar to me

Ronald Smith

GIMP definitely has a slight learning curve to it, but trust me when i say that once you’ve a hang of it, it’s easy as eating pie :) is definitely a great place to start though, if GIMP feels a little burdensome. I myself understand the feeling of it being unfamiliar, and I use it almost every day, lol, and have for a good while now.

Juan Carlos Espinosa Agudelo

I use PDN(for the people new to Paint.NET, PDN is what the community calls it) for a lot of image editing and think it’s really useful. I’m not the most advanced user, so I can’t go into many details for everything, but I do have to say there’s one complaint I have:

The plugins. At least, I think it’s the plugins. If you go to the tutorials page, you’ll immediately see that plugins are used a lot, which isn’t bad. I use tons of plugins to do various things, with the exception of some glitches, they work fine for me. The problem I have is that with all these plugins, naturally, the program boots up slower(I counted 25-26 seconds) compared to MS Paint, which boots up in a mere 3 seconds. It doesn’t make MS Paint better and I should try checking what the booting time would be without the plugins. I think it would be faster.

Do note that the plugins are the effects and a lot of them come from the community. I think Pyrochild’s in the staff and also made a lot of plugins, but there’s others which are from the users.

The tutorials are very useful, I’ve forgotten a lot of them by now, but I do recommend checking them out and then try to experiment(combine the tutorials, come up with your own ways of playing with it).

That’s about all I have to say about it, it’s a really good program.

Ahmed Khalil

What is the cost of this program?

Juan Carlos Espinosa Agudelo

Well, like the article says, it’s free. Even the downloadable plugins are completely free. (You do have to place them in the corresponding map, though)

Ahmed Khalil

Thanks for this replay, i realy did not see this information, but it is nice to use this software

Ronald Smith

The reason that it takes longer to load up, is because each plugin is like an extension of the app, think of them as sub-apps. The RAM and CPU have to load each piece up in addition to the rest and to the main app, PDN. The Google Chrome web browser is the same way, as is Firefox, and some other apps that use extensions and plugins. It can tend to be a royal pain, this I know.

Usman Shaikh

i m using it and its really very gud


Pinra is a good alternative for the Mac and Linux users.

Gail Harmata

Thanks! Will be trying this out shortly.


Been using this since Windows XP. It is simple and powerful and probably the best free paint software. I really will have to get to grips with layers, though.

Richard Borkovec

I used to use this quite a bit, but I needed the umph that GIMP provides. For most people, PDN is a great tool that does everything they’d need in a photo editor. Definitely love it!

Adjei Kofi

seems cool. will try it out.

Rajaa Chowdhury

Another great free Image Editor which I use extensively is PhotoScape. Very simple to use too.

Paul Girardin

It’s good but feels more like a jack of all trades

Ahmed Khalil

I do not use it before but i would give a try.
in your opinion which is better ( or photoscape)?

Paul Girardin

Both are good … it always depends on what you need out of them!

I use PDN for extensive photo work (Removing background and such plus playing with layers and adding fun things).

An example of that would be a child’s birthday card with their picture coming out of a balloon that Bugs Bunny is holding up.

I also work with Photoscape for quick multi-photos postcards or some such.

Both are nice to have but PDN is leaner!


Thank you for this positive review of PDN. It’s an excellent program that deserves it. I’ve been using it for years, both for touching up my own photos, and for editing all the illustrations at the StayOnTop blog. Compared to the unwieldy Gimp, PDN is a time saver. Couldn’t live without it!
Two tips for new PDN users:
(1) The single one feature that’s really missing in PDN, is a “smudge brush”. This is just about the only thing most image editors have, and PDN doesn’t have.
My personal workaround: mark the relevant image area with the lasso tool, then use Effects->Blurs->Motion Blur where you set the motion angle to the direction you would have moved a smudge brush. Usually you’ll get the end effect you were looking for. Still I hope one of the next PDN updates will include a proper smudge tool!
(2) PDN saves images in its own format (imagename.pdn) which is fine because it preserves the layer structure. But the problem is that many image viewers still don’t handle these .pdn images very well (if they handle them at all). For example, XnView will show thumbnails for your .pdn images, but not the full size images.
So if you want to make sure others can view your images, have PDN save them in a more common format (like JPG, PNG, or if file size doesn’t matter, PSD).
For the rest, PDN is just great! If you don’t know it, you should give it a try.
Henk (depri blogger @

Paul Girardin

The pdn format is good while working on your project inside PDN.

For moving beyond PDN for a more detailed work, save as psd.

To give to family and friends, save as 100% quality jpg.

Alex Downs

I’ve used it for years, it has so much customization with all the plugin, plus I like the community. Can’t beat the price of free either, and fell like you can do just about anything with it.

Craig Snyder

Always used PDN. If I’m going to type “Paint” into my Start Menu to do some elementary image editing then I’d might as well choose a better alternative than what Windows has to offer.


Downloading now…it looks interesting plus I need something easier to learn than Gimp.

Meena Bassem

like……. a lite version of photoshop.. really cool

rimaz nazeer

Have been using Gimp all these years,tried and didn’t like it that much,its for lightweight users.

Paul Girardin

I disagree, I have done many intricate photo work with PDN and it came out super.

Like every other program, learning it well makes you better at it!


It is a nice alternative, replacing paint. ;)

Raj Bhagwandas

Nice article, I think it’s a good FREE replacement to Paint, there are still much better paid alternatives out there, but for free, its good (=

Paul Girardin

At first, it was an independent project to produce a better Paint but it became so much more.

As for getting better paid alternatives, it really depends on your needs.

For quick jobs, this program loads fast and does not load a million littles things like Photoshop or interfaces all over the screen like GIMP

Swaggrous Emeks

Really awesome software Aaron,i have got to try it.

Raj Bhagwandas

Nice, it is a good FREE alternative to Paint. Of course if you have the money then obviously buy something better (=

Jonas Eikeland

I’m using Paint.NET all the time, and i love it. I even think it’s better than Photoshop .


Great program, been using it for a long time, the only thing that I don’t like about this is the print function, as it brings up the windows default print dialog that is extremely limited.

Kao Vang

They compare this to Photoshop but when I use it, it takes some getting used to. Regardless, I use this at places where I cannot access Photoshop. I also use this at work for quick editing.

Gets the job done for many!

Paul Girardin

Comparing this to Photoshop is a bit much!

Photoshop costs a small fortune and is like a big blue whale.

PDN is FREE and is like a dolphin (agile and quick)

Kao Vang

Totally agree. Just saying that it takes some getting used to.

Paul Girardin

Most programs have a learning curve … fortunately PDN has a good Forum to help ease the pains of acquired knowledge. ;)

Rich Mc.

great info I ahve been searching for a good easy to use program..

Paul C

This is the #1 program I miss the most after switching to Mac…. Can’t find anything quite like it on OSX.

Paul C

This is the #1 program I miss the most after switching to Mac…. Can’t find anything quite like it on OSX.


I used to use it as my only image editor, but there were a few features, such as editable text, and smudge / blur brushes, that I needed so I switched to GIMP. I keep an eye on the dev blog though, so I’ll give version 4.0 a try when the beta is released.

Frederick Doe

Is there comparable software for Macs?


It’s Pinta. it’s available for Linux, Mac & Windows

Darren Reynolds

Ive just downloaded and will give it a try :)


I have been using it for a couple of years. It is really useful because of it’s fast load time and smaller download time. So far my favourite plugin is the one with opng support. You can directly save an image as a compressed lossless png file.

Diwaker Srivastava

very good painting tool and image editing tool and thanks for sharing this info. I am very curious about this is this free or paid ?

Paul Girardin

It is free!


Paint.NET is the best & cheapest solution available for image work.

joan Willies

When I tried to download Paintnet: A red warning signal “This site is dangerous “do you really want to go there” appeared on my desktop.

I this is a dangerous site, I am wondering why AaronCouch has written so enthusiastically about it,
I would like to download this if I could and it is safe. has anyone else experienced this warning??

Ahmed Khalil


Trevor F

I’ve been using for several years and totally agree with the author. A User-friendly, intuitive, and powerful picture editor.

Igor Rizvi?

I seriously reccomend this over gimp…i think gimp is too heavy :S

Donna Shaw

I’ve been using this for about 6 mos. Works great when I am on a computer without PSP.

Bruce Thomas

PDN is a very good photo editor, which I used for awhile. I needed more power without the Photoshop price, so now I use Corel Paintshop Pro.

James Graham

Thanks for this review. I often need something with a bit more power than Paint but not quite as expansive as GIMP ( and GIMP on a netbook is no joy to load ).


Think a wine skin port is needed! Looks good!

Sebastian Hadinata

great image editor indeed..

Vnay Thoke

Err.. I’ve used it already..! loved da smoothening effect..!!


I used GIMP when I couldn’t efford Photoshop now that I do and found it lost more feature rich than Paint.NET, even the community of GIMP is quite widespread and it has more tutorials available than the latter!

Paul Girardin

GIMP is fine but compared to PDN it looks like an elephant in a glass shop for quick jobs.

Like every other program, you need to read and learn about its features and tricks to get the most out of it.

Ronald Smith

For me, actually, GIMP has been the most efficient for quick jobs, due to it’s flexibility and ease of use. I came down to it from Photoshop CS2, after many other PS versions, so it may be different for me than you or the next person. I actually appreciate the flexibility that it offers, especially if you use it in Linux. PDN definitely works well though, I’ll have to agree there. It’s just such a pain to have to use Windows though. It leaves such a huge amount of users in the cold.

Ronald Smith

One question I have for this, is how well does it work with graphic tablets?

Ashwin Ramesh

been using this for quite a while now.. pretty good !

druv vb

This is my favourite picture editing tool since years moving from GIMP for Windows.
Its almost a complete replacement for Adobe’s PhotoShop, well for my needs.
Plus, its free. Can also be used as a portable software on flash drive.
I always use it to edit pictures taken with my Nokia N8.
Apply some contrast, soften some spots, sharpen others, apply some filters, overlays and finally resize it to desktop resolution.
You got yourself a magazine-like photo shoot…

Vampie C.

How do you make it portable?

druv vb

They distribute the official Paint.Net software in portable format.
You must go through their LiberKey App first, but when it runs, you can trim the apps to ease space on the flash drive if you use other softwares of your own. Or you can use the apps from LiberKey.
They have a good selection of softwares.

Ronald Smith

I have to agree with you there. For the majority of what people will use it for, it’s definitely perfect (for Windows users anyway). When it comes to the much more advanced stuff though, then it’s time to break out the GIMP, lol.

Patrick Jackson

Hey Aaron, here’s the thing.

Paint.NET is a great tool for image editing or creation, but compatibility is the major drawback that is and will keep it behind in the long run.

For the current few versions, only those with XP SP3 and higher, with .NET Framework (look that’s why the ‘.NET’) and no support for other OS other than Windows.

While Photoshop can run in Windows XP without any other software to install.

So is GIMP, but it also works in Linux (it was first in Linux!).

So, Paint.NET can be successful if they solve this problem, but on .NET the whole thing’s made and changing that would be a game changer, both for the dev team and us, obviously!

Ronald Smith

I agree, the fact that it requires the .NET framework, and thus, Windows, makes it a big problem for many who may wish to use it. Now if only we can get a more up-to-date version of GIMP for Windows and Mac users, all would be caught up for it with the Linux base, lol.

Vampie C.

Can you use it as a portable program?

If so, it could replace GIMP, because I don’t seem to find my way around GIMP. :-)

Aaron Couch

A portable version of Paint.NET is available from LiberKey. Just search there app catalog under Graphics – Photo and then Editor. They don’t provide a link directly for the programs, but here’s a link to get you started in the right place:

lance burn

It would be good to get a free book about this

Ronald Smith

I agree, perhaps one of their famous MUO pdf guides perhaps could do the trick!


I agree, a good MUO book would be fab!


I’ll stick with Gimp, if i ever have a problem figuring out something i just go to

Keith D. Swartz

Great article! Been a few years since I have used This article reminded me of it’s strengths. So much so, that I’m going to down load it and start using it again without drifting away from it again! Come to (or down as in download!) me, my love! Your name does not even begin to say it all, and your colors, they are a mere blush of your potential! Please, welcome me home!


Free is always good!!

Clyde Atwood

Gonna give it a go!

Raymond Beets

I’ve been using PDN for the past few years and I have to say, I can’t think of any other free piece of software that offers this much functionality.

I primarily use it for image editing for websites or for game development sprites / textures.

If you find a limitation in the software, chances are that somebody has already created a plug-in to cover the feature you’re after. And as mentioned in the comments, the plug-ins are also free.

I moved from Photoshop to PDN as I ended up not using three quarters of the features in Photoshop. PDN offers everything one needs for image editing at not cost at all.

A brilliant piece of software that is highly recommended for everybody.

Maxi3w looks and sounds really good. I like that it has Tutorials, Plug-Ins and especially an online community of users. I’m sure that a lot of tips will be shared there and help is always on hand if a certain effect is wanted.

I use another online one regularly that has such a user-friendly appearance but does not have tutorials so makes it difficult to work out how to do something.

I really like what I have read, I do have it downloaded, but after seeing photo editors such as the mentioned Photoshop and Gimp, trying different types is quite scary. But seems a move forward.

Thank You!

Ronald Smith

My fave place to check on tutorials, YouTube. believe it or not, that’s better than anywhere else on the internet.


Thank You Ronald! Plus YT has the added benefit of tutorials being ‘visual’ and no doubt good walk-through’s.

Ronald Smith

You’re welcome. The very reason you mentioned is the exact primary reason I choose YouTube for such a thing. Learning from a visual example, for most people, usually gets better results. I’m one of those people, so learning by example, such as live interaction or video footage on YouTube.

Ronald Smith

*I meant to say “… so I learn best by example… “

Kamal Ji

it seems like advanced photo editor or upgraded version of ms paint.. isn’t it?

Ronald Smith

It’s basically more advanced than MSPaint (Windows 7 version), but not quite as much as GIMP. It has some great advanced features not available in MSPaint, but has a lot that is missing, that you can have with GIMP. If you want advanced, more free-form editing, go with GIMP, but all-in-all, this app is still great for the majority of tasks, especially general everyday use, such as working with screenshots, settings adjustments, etc.


If you need “freestyle” editing photos, use GIMP. :)

Justine Muller

agreed. love this program.. great for those of us just wanting simple, no bs editing :)

James Baydal

i want to try this. :D

Dwayne Nicholson

How does Paint.NET compare with Gimp? Will open PSD files like Gimp does?

Ronald Smith is basically a step in between MSPaint and GIMP. As to psd file type support, it appears that there is a plugin available for that. Last version was updated in 2010. If you go to, which is the site for the app, there’s a search box up at the top, just type psd into the box and hit enter.


I’ve just opened PDN and it reminds me so much of the ‘typical’ photo editor software. And like someone said, it will be a learning curve plus they also said it is like an editor in between MS Paint and Gimp and I have to agree.

I use iPiccy which has a completely different layout and is so visually appealing and easy to navigate so I don’t know how I will get on with PDN except diving straight in and seeing what happens.

It would be a step in the direction to Gimp though because of the layout but not from iPiccy which is completely different. Plus as my Photography hobby is growing I still think PDN will definitely be the best next start (after iPiccy) for me to get up to scratch to eventually using Gimp.

As PDN seems so popular would MUO create a guide for us? I cheekily ask only because us that are overwhelmed by Photoshop and Gimp, or not ready for them, PDN really is perfect. Just a basic guide perhaps? I know PDN have tutorials but you guys make guides so much easier to understand, lol!! and that’s why I and someone else has asked. PDN really is ideal :-)

Michael Teague

I have been using Paint.NET for several years. I find that it is perfect for most of my image editing requirements.


thanks…………………. i try it and it worked for me.


Well…..I finally used and was hugely disappointed. The plug-ins are really out of date (the ones I tried anyway). The tutorials, followed exactly several times, did not work. And the level of ‘choices’ available to edit my photo’s were in no way as good as iPiccy (which I have mentioned that I use).

Adding effects took some time for to apply which was a pain. Many features were missing. I am very let down by it, but I did give it a really good go but didn’t live up to doing a very good job :-( Anyway, I have uninstalled it and will continue with iPiccy, which is just so easy and fun to use. And in future when I get brave enough I will go straight onto Gimp. Plug-ins, Tutorials dated as far back as 2006! I guess it is no wonder I had so much trouble.

It may suit others, so don’t just go by what I say, give it a try yourselves; It just isn’t for me. But I’m glad at least I have finally tried it.

Aaron Couch

You know, that’s all you can do! Sometimes a program just doesn’t fit one person the way it fits another — makes me glad there’s more than one option out there.

I appreciate your honest feedback and for at least giving it a try and recommending others do the same.

Thanks for reading :)

Debbie Franklin

This sounds like an awesome program which I think I will try out for sure. I was wondering though if there is a program for your computer like I have on my phone that is called PicsArt? I absolutely love the program and would love to have one like it on my computer.

Aaron Couch


I hadn’t previously heard of PicsArt, but I don’t think there is a desktop program that is similar to that. But I could very well be wrong about that. Of course, there’s Picasa which is a photo manager and editor and it is pretty good. It has a social aspect connected to Google+ as well, but that’s the closest that I can think of.


The best program. For simple tasks, it replaced photoshop in my home :)