Free basic graphics and painting program
MS Paint is a free computer program made by Microsoft that allows you to create picture files as well as edit picture files saved on your computer. Microsoft Paint – or Paint as it is also known – can also be used for quickly adding text to images. It's not the most advanced graphic/painting software available but it has a cult following among fans around the world.
Is Paint being discontinued?
The first version of MS Paint was introduced by developer Microsoft with the first version of Windows, Windows 1.0, in 1985. It has been included in all the Microsoft Windows versions since then, including Windows 10. The program has gone through various updates over the years to include more advanced features as Windows PCs have developed. The biggest update came with the release of Windows 7.
Thanks to its simplicity and ease of use, and the fact that it was bundled with every Windows machine, Paint rapidly became one of the most used apps in the early versions of Windows. It introduced huge numbers of people to painting on a computer for the first time.
In 2019, fans of the aging app feared that MS Paint would be discontinued by Microsoft in the planned Windows 10 1903 update. A heated Twitter debate ensued. Calls for Paint's continued survival were answered when Microsoft confirmed that it would not be discontinued and that it would still be available after the update.
However, the program was labeled 'deprecated' in the new update, meaning it is no longer actively being updated.
Is MS Paint free?
MS Paint is completely free and should already be on your Windows PC (found in the Windows Start menu within the Accessories Folder). If you don't have Paint on your computer, installing it couldn't be simpler. Just download and run the .exe file and MS Paint will open automatically.
Users who have the latest version of Windows 10 might want to try Microsoft's refresh of the classic Paint application, Paint 3D. It includes both basic and advanced art tools to create not only unique 2D art but also 3D objects.
Microsoft Paint for Mac doesn't exist. Mac users are advised to download Paintbrush, a user-friendly and lightweight paint program for Mac OS.
What is MS Paint used for?
Microsoft Paint is a simple raster graphics editor. It opens and saves files in Windows bitmap (BMP), JPEG, GIF, PNG, and single-page TIFF formats. The program can be in color mode or two-color black-and-white, but there is no grayscale mode.
The principal features of MS Paint are simple drawing tools that you can use to easily paint on a blank canvas or existing image. Beyond that, Paint includes cropping, resizing, rotating, skewing, and selection tools to further manipulate images.
Paint is an endearingly straightforward program that offers very little in the way of advanced features. It is really easy to use, even for newbies. The uncomplicated user interface features tools down the left-hand side and menus along the top. Tooltips appear to offer users guidance, although in reality you don't really need them.
The joy of Paint is simply playing around with the tools and seeing what artworks you can create. With a few swooshes, drags and clicks, you can create weird arrangements of overlapping shapes filled with color. You can erase sections, paint and draw freehand lines, and add airbrush effects and text in a range of fonts. You can even add a transparent background.
Do this on a blank canvas or on an imported picture and then set it as your computer's desktop image. While the tools available in Paint are limited, their artistic uses are as restricted as a user's imagination. Plus, there are lots of articles online that reveal some of the surprisingly creative things that MS Paint can do.
Of course, Paint attracts criticism for being too simplistic but those looking to do elaborate graphic design or image manipulation should look elsewhere. Photoscape, Gimp, and Krita, for example, all feature advanced tools while remaining more user-friendly than Photoshop.
Nostalgia and famous fans
Of course, part of MS Paint's enduring appeal is inevitably wrapped up in a touch of nostalgia. Anyone who grew up in, or began using computers, in the 90s will almost certainly already know – and likely love – Paint. For many, using the program was the first time they realized that computers could be used for art.
It's not just casual users who love Paint though. Even serious artists are fans of the program. Famed Beatle and artist Ringo Starr has been using the application for decades and has exhibited his artwork created with Paint.
Meanwhile, the artist behind the massively successful internet blog, Jim'll Paint It, uses Microsoft Paint to create his surreal and hilarious crowdsourced images. The long-running collection of webcomics, MS Paint Adventures, were originally created using the program. Paint's simplicity as a program belies the amazing creative results that it can achieve.
Anyone looking for an alternative to MS Paint, however, will find a whole range of similar programs that also offer simple tools and functionality. PowerPaint lets you modify photos and create your own drawings, Paint.NET and MyPaint are ideal for digital artists that are starting out, while EZ Paint is a straight-up alternative to Paint.
An enduring classic
Despite barely having changed for more than 30 years, Paint still occupies a beloved place in the list of graphic editing software. A nostalgia for past times, coupled with the program's simplicity, means it retains a loyal following of both amateur and professional artists.
Sure, it's dated and its functionality is limited. Plus there are constant rumors that it will be discontinued by Microsoft. But for those looking for a fuss-free way to create simple art on a PC, MS Paint offers just enough to be versatile without overstepping its remit.