Paint.net is a free photo editor for Windows

The Paint.net logo

Paint.net is a photo editor with an easy to use interface. If you don’t need something heavy duty like Photoshop, but need something slightly above the classic MS Paint, Paint.net fits the bill perfectly. I feel like this program doesn’t get talked about enough these days. 

Background Info on Paint.net 

Paint.net was first developed by Rick Brewster as a Washington State University student project in 2004. The name “dot net” comes from the program being made with Microsoft’s .NET framework. However, the name itself can be confusing if someone tries to go to the URL paint.net, thinking it is a URL which is not the case. Development is still active.

Paint.net was partially open source for a while before becoming proprietary. The software is free to download and install, but there are two versions offered. The free version is offered on the getpaint.net website while there is a “premium” version offered on the Microsoft Windows store which provides automatic updates. The developer has stated that offering a paid version with automatic updates is a way to help with contributions while still keeping the core product free. 

Features 

What makes this software worth having on your system?  

Interface and Simplicity 

For anyone that has ever used Photoshop, Paintshop Pro, or other advanced photo editors, it shouldn’t take long to adjust to Paint.net’s interface. If you have multiple images open, their previews are displayed at the top in thumbnails. The windows for history and layers are also there if needed. Overall, I don’t think anyone will have trouble here.  Lovers of dark mode will also be happy when they discover the “dark theme” in the settings accessed via the cogwheel icon.

A screenshot of the main paint.net interface

Performance 

Opening the program is decently fast and any actions performed are handled immediately with no noticeable lag. This is not a heavyweight piece of software like Adobe’s Photoshop, so you can rest assured that this will run well on just about any Windows machine, even those with low-end processors. 

It also helps that this is local software and not something running in a web browser or in the cloud, meaning you typically have better responsiveness and performance.  

Effects and Plugins 

Some basic effects come bundled with Paint.net such as blurring and other artistic effects. I personally mostly use the Gaussian blur or pixel effect for editing out stuff in screenshots. However, I think most people will find the defaults satisfactory 

Screenshot of the basic effects

There are additional plugins that are made by the community such as various brushes and other added effects.  

Final Thoughts on Paint.net 

I think all Windows users should have this wonderful photo editing tool installed on their systems. It’s lightweight and gets the job done for probably 80-90% (your mileage may vary) of basic editing jobs. The only thing I consider it weak in is text options and effects. 

Whenever someone needs a photo editor, I would rather point them in the direction of Paint.net over something with a convoluted design like GIMP.  

Link: Go download it!

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