Microsoft officially deprecated Paint in July 2017. Of course, the app hasn’t been updated since Windows 7 anyway, so it’s hardly news.
While it will remain available through the Windows Store, this really spells the end for MS Paint. Microsoft is now squarely focused on the new Paint 3D; there’s only so much time the old version of Paint can remain available until it becomes a liability.
Perhaps it’s time to start looking for free alternatives? Here are seven of the best for you to check out.
Paint.NET started life as a student project back in 2004, but it’s since grown to become one of the best free image editors on the Windows operating system. If you’re only a light user, it’s even a valid alternative to full suites like Photoshop and GIMP.
If you’re coming from Microsoft Paint, one of the biggest things you’ll want is familiarity, and Paint.NET has it in abundance. The main screen looks very similar to the Microsoft app.
Dig a little deeper, however, and it’s packed with features that make the app shine.
They include Photoshop-esque layers, a vast number of special effects, unlimited undo/redo, an array of tools for drawing shapes, and most importantly for many users, near-endless plugins.
To give you an idea, the community-supported PDF document which lists all the plugins is 95 pages long! If that sounds too daunting, don’t worry. You can download packs of the most popular plugins that center around certain themes (e.g. extra brushes, colors, effects). Some even have installers.
If Paint.NET is too complicated and you’re looking for something more basic, IrfanView could be the tool for you.
Some of the headline features are almost identical to Microsoft Paint. The app has easy-to-draw shapes, tools for rotating, flipping and resizing images, and one-click buttons for converting images to greyscale and other color palettes.
IrfanView also offers some functionality that’s missing in Paint but which makes using the app easier and more enjoyable. For example, it has image previews, support for more file formats, and even the ability to open animated GIFs.
Lastly, professionals will still be able to rely on the app for tasks thanks to its support for Photoshop filters, batch conversion, and IPTC metadata.
If you’ve been paying attention, you will notice Pinta looks instantly familiar. Why? Because it’s based on the previously discussed Paint.NET.
The app is not quite as feature-laden as its inspiration, making it a better alternative for people who want the Microsoft Paint familiarity without all the extra pro-level features they’ll never use.
However, just because it’s not equal to Paint.NET, don’t write it off. Pinta supports layers, provides unlimited history, has 35 effects, and includes easy-to-use drawing tools.
Perhaps most interestingly, it takes a different approach to the workspace in front of you. You can pop out any window to make it float, and even use a combination of docked windows and floating windows to suit your needs.
Krita is geared towards digital artists. Specifically, the app is aimed at concept artists, illustrators, matte and texture artists, and people working in the visual effects industry. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not also a great tool for people who want an alternative to Microsoft Paint.
If you choose to download it, you can enjoy a range of useful features that are absent in Paint. They include a quick color selector (just right-click on a color to pick it), brush stabilizers (perfect if you’re doing basic drawing with a mouse), and vector, filter, group, and file layers.
Krita also offers some of the best shape drawing tools. Thanks to its “Drawing Assistants,” you will be able to create the perfect ellipse, arrow, or fisheye every time.
Photoscape is mainly focused on photo editing. If you use Microsoft Paint to edit and tweak snaps you have taken, it’s the perfect replacement.
Many of the tools it offers are photo-orientated and are absent on Paint. For example, you can easily combine multiple photos into one image or watch your photos in a slideshow. You can also convert images from the RAW format into JPEGs or splice your photos into multiple pieces.
As you would expect, it also has a comprehensive basic editor. You can use it to resize your image, adjust the brightness and color, change the white balance, correct the backlight, add text, draw pictures, add filters, remove red-eye, and more.
Lastly, Photoscape has a cool tool that lets you print lined, graph, music, and calendar paper using your images.
Fotor made its name as a cloud-based image editor, but these days you can download the software as a standalone Windows app that’ll work offline.
Like Photoscape, editing photos is Fotor’s bread and butter, but it also works well for editing screenshots and other images.
The app can make simple adjustments such as resizing and cropping, includes hundreds of free fonts, and offers a shape drawing tool. It also has some basic touch up tools.
Fotor is entirely free to download and use, but it’s also the only app on this list that offers a paid tier. For $3.33 per month, you get 100 new effects, a vast number of stickers and photo frames, professional-grade touch-up tools, and an ad-free experience.
If you’re not going to have Paint on your system anymore, why even bother to clutter your hard drive up with more junk?
You could use an online-only editor instead, and Pixlr is one of the best.
The design of Pixlr is more Photoshop-esque than Paint-esque. But, if you spend a bit of time learning how to use the app, you will quickly discover it’s one of the best Paint replacements available.
It has all the basics you’d expect, plus advanced features like smudging, blurring, layers, and a long list of filters and effects.
Of course, you should only consider Pixlr if you have a reliable web connection; it’s useless without one. You will also need to enable Flash for it to run.
Which App Do You Use?
If you’re preparing for the death of Microsoft Paint, you won’t go far wrong by using one of these seven apps.
For the most Paint-like experience, try Paint.NET, IrfanView, or Pinta. If you’re willing to expand your knowledge and try something new, use Krita, Photoscape, or Fotor. And if you want an online-only tool, you need Pixlr.
Of course, there are hundreds of free image editing tools on the web, and we’ve not been able to cover all of them in this article. Microsoft will certainly want you to use Paint 3D.
Which apps would you add to this list? What features make them so impressive? You can leave all your tips and suggestions in the comments below.