Tired of Photoshop and GIMP? Try Paint.net

Daniel Pataki
Apr 12, 2009
Updated • Jun 7, 2017

Paint.net is a free powerful image editor for Microsoft Windows devices that, as the name suggests, requires the Microsoft .NET Framework.

I've been searching for a Photoshop replacement for a while, and the obvious choice was GIMP, although I never really liked it much. I am 100% sure that GIMP is an awesome application, but to me it just doesn't feel right.

Gimp always felt cumbersome, especially when it came to the program startup, or the loading of image files.

So instead, I gave Paint.net another go, an application which I have tried before, but gave up because I heard GIMP was so awesome.




Paint.net is a graphical application just like Photoshop, but without many of its fancy tools. If you just need some cropping, resizing and positioning action for images in your blog, Paint.net will be great. At around 6Mb in size, it doesn't take a toll on your system either.

For me it works quite well for basic web design too, simple gradients, some web 2.0 style reflections, nothing too complex. The two things which I miss most about Photoshop though is the text capabilities and vector graphics. Text capabilities in both GIMP and Paint.net are shabby compared to PS, and Paint.net doesn't really have great pen tools either. If you need way more power than the simple Windows Paint, but way less than Photoshop, Paint.net is a solid, well built, lightweight image editor for you.

Update: I have been using Paint.net for quite some time now, mostly for basic image editing operations like resizing, cropping or manipulating images. It is fast loading which is always a plus and lightweight on the system. After having tried many, some of which were either to heavy in functionality or resource usage, Photoshop and GIMP come to mind, I kept using Paint.net as it is the ideal program for everything that I need to do image manipulation-wise.

Paint.net offers a lot of features on top of what I need that may be useful to designers. This includes layers, special effects, tools for a variety of tasks and more.

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  1. Martin said on April 12, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    I’m using paint.net for all screenshot editing here at Ghacks. Opens fast and is easy to use.

  2. Rarst said on April 12, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Yep, my main image editor – most recommended. My only gripe is that it’s not portable.

  3. jan said on April 12, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    “I gave Pain.net another go”

    it’ll sure be a Pain.net in the ass :-D

  4. Daniel Pataki said on April 13, 2009 at 1:27 am

    Hah, I just noticed that, what was I thinking while I was writing the post? :D

    I’m actually using it more and more, and while GIMP may be a better editor overall, it fails miserably in the simple stuff like simply selecting and cropping.

  5. pdnuser said on April 13, 2009 at 5:03 am

    It may be obvious from the application name, but I think you need to mention it requires at least .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 to be installed.

  6. Craig said on April 13, 2009 at 11:39 am

    What, no link love? Did you forget all about SEO? It’s bad enough that this blog, along with millions of others, force their readers to scroll down past Google Ads in order to reach the content.

    This and many other blogs also makes it hard to pick out the content over the ads, which I’m sure is done on purpose so that you get those click-thru dollars.

    Sucking at Google’s teat may make you some money, but this and too many other blogs like it simply piss of their readers. We know what you really care about, and it’s not the information you pass on to your readers and subscribers.

    Show me the money!

    1. Martin said on April 13, 2009 at 12:39 pm

      No one is forcing you to do anything. You can either use an ad blocker or simply avoid this blog if you prefer that. That’s called freedom of choice. I would prefer to run this blog without ads as well but this would mean that I would have zero income which in turn would mean that I had to close down the blog because I could not afford and would not have the time to run it. So, what do you suggest I should do about that, Craig?

  7. Tobey said on April 13, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    I feel obliged to at least mention Aviary.com once again.. deserves it imo.

  8. Elisabeta Ghidiu said on April 13, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    it’s just great. I was looking for a substitute and finally got one. Thanks a lot.

  9. Craig said on April 13, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    I don’t have an issue with monetizing your blog. All the power to you, as you work hard and you deserve to make an income. However, when you force your readers to have to determine the location of the content (and this isn’t unique to this blog) you make it frustrating.

    I apologize for the condescending tone of my comments. I do enjoy your blog and it’s one of less than 20 that I have in my RSS feeds. I guess I see your blog as being a leader in it’s niche and if you placed ads differently or did something bold like moving that frakking ad sense that clutters up the content area then maybe others would follow.

    I’m just tired of having to scroll every time I load a blog in order to read the start of the content. I don’t use ad-blockers at all because I know how important the ads are for bloggers.

    My point is simply that Google Ad Sense seems to be getting in the way of the content, and it drives me wild.

    Keep on doing what you are doing in terms of content, because it’s worth coming here to read and comment. If I really didn’t give a shit about your site, I wouldn’t have bothered to comment.

    Again, my apologies for the tone of my comments which no doubt made me sound like a troll.

    1. Martin said on April 13, 2009 at 10:23 pm

      Craig apology accepted. Believe me when I say that I would love to find a way to remove the Adsense ads or at least move them to a position where they do not interfere with the content in the way that they do now. It looks ugly and it not pleasant at all. But it is unfortunately the only position that creates a solid revenue, believe me I tried a lot.

      I’d really love to have the backing of a company that would give me the freedom to write articles the way I do but without the ads or at least a reduction on this blog. But I’m currently not in the position to get high paying eCPM deals like they do. Just look at Lifehacker or Download Squad to know what I mean. They are backed by a company, get great eCPM values (I suspect) and have the freedom to avoid ads near their content.

      Again: I’d love to reduce the ads as this would also improve loading times and of course user experience but I cannot see this happen anytime soon. Oh, and being backed by a company could lead to other kinds of unpleasant changes.

  10. garbanzo said on April 14, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    also check out Photofiltre. it’s lightweight, extremely fast, full of useful features, and it’s 100% portable. while it’s no photoshop replacement, it’s still an excellent all-around image editor.


  11. MK said on April 14, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    I have no issues with AdSense in this blog, since I can differentiate ads and contents just fine.

    I do notice, however, that the little balloon thingy when hovering over a double-underlined link is now gone, is it? They were sure annoying.

    1. Martin said on April 14, 2009 at 4:27 pm

      MK I’m testing a different system for the next days.

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