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5 free replacements for MS Paint

No more Paint in Microsoft Windows? No problem: These free tools offer more features anyway.

Artweaver puts a wealth of virtual brushes into artists' hands.

Boris Eyrich Software

Is it time to bid farewell to Microsoft Paint, a Windows staple since all the way back in version 1.0? According to a Microsoft page listing all the features to be removed from the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, Paint is indeed going bye-bye.

Of course, this has yet to be officially confirmed by Microsoft, and there's always the possibility you'll be able to download the program separately.

If not, no worries: There are plenty of free alternatives to Paint, and most of them offer a lot more features. Let's take a look at some of the options.


If you liked doing actual painting with Microsoft Paint, you'll love Artweaver. This touchscreen-friendly Windows program serves up a wealth of realistic brushes, pens, papers and more, all designed to unlock your inner artist.

Although the free version is quite capable, you'll need to invest in Artweaver Plus (about $40, or £30/AU$50) if you need technical support or want to use the program for commercial purposes. Just doodling, though? You'll find Artweaver a fine tool.



GIMP supports layers -- a killer feature if you need them, and something Paint users never dreamed of.


The old-standby, old-favorite open-source image editor, GIMP hews much closer to Photoshop than it does to Paint, and as such the learning curve is much steeper. If you're willing to learn, this is definitely a major upgrade.

On the other hand, it's probably overkill for users just looking to draw cat pictures. Thankfully, the developers have created a handful of tutorials designed to walk you through various functions. And, hey, you can't have a conversation about free image-manipulation tools without mentioning GIMP. While I'm at it, Paint.NET is usually mentioned in the same breath; it's similarly sophisticated, similarly challenging for novices.


Do you use Paint mostly for simple image-editing? Consider switching to IrfanView, a fast and compact utility that's great for quick edits. With it you can rotate, flip and resize images; convert to grayscale, sharpen, fill backgrounds; and apply a variety of effects.

It's been my go-to app for years; I use it to tweak most of the images I share here on CNET. And it does have basic paint and text tools as well, so you can accomplish nearly everything here that you can in Paint -- and then some.


Built with illustrators and comics/manga artists in mind, Krita is an open-source paint program offering perks like a brush-stabilizer (to compensate for shaky hands), a wrap-around mode to produce seamless textures and patterns and a pop-up palette to keep useful tools close at hand.

Like a lot of the more advanced software in this roundup, Krita comes with a learning curve. Newbies will definitely want to check out the online documentation.


Krita gives budding artists and illustrators a pro-level set of tools.


Pixlr Editor

Why bother downloading and installing software when you can work on the web? (Oh, right: working offline.) Assuming you're connected, check out Pixlr Editor, a browser-based image editor offering tools -- layers, filters, effects, etc. -- that rival both GIMP and Paint.NET.

Just one problem: The tools aren't labeled; you don't even get pop-up descriptors when you mouse over them. So unless you can identify, say, the smudge tool just by its icon, you may find Pixlr a little complicated.

Have you found a free Paint substitute you like better than any/all of these? Name it in the comments!

Update (7/25/16): I called it! Microsoft has announced plans to release MS Paint as a standalone app, one you'll be able to get free via the Windows Store.