zzPaint is a portable image editor which offers basic editing options

Oct 18, 2019
Software, Windows software

Inkscape and GIMP are excellent graphics editor programs but they have a learning curve; I prefer something simpler like Paint.Net myself as it ticks all the right boxes.

If you want something that's even simpler, zzPaint is an interesting choice. Sometimes, you may just need a fast simple to use image editor that supports the features that you need. Why start the rather slow loading GIMP or Photoshop if you can do the same in a program like Microsoft Paint or zzPaint?

ZZPaint is a basic image editing application for Windows that is portable. To use it, download its archive from the linked website, extract it after the download completes and run the included executable file afterward. The settings are stored in the same folder in an INI file. What it lacks is a help file, so we'll try to explain the program's features.


zzPaint is a portable image editor which offers basic editing options

The interface is about as simple as it can get. There is a menu bar, toolbar, left side panel, workspace pane and another panel on the right. You can disable the toolbar and the side panels from the view menu for an even more minimal experience.

Images that you edit in zzPaint can be saved as JPG/JPEG, PNG and BMP formats. Open a picture to edit and you get a new sidebar on the left with some useful tools. This includes a color picker (aka eye dropper tool), point, line, rectangle, polygon, ellipse, flood and text tools.

There are 3 tools on the main side panel: Pen, Brush, Font. The Pen tool is used when you draw lines and also for the borders of shapes. You can set a custom color, width, cap style, join style, for it. The brush tool is used for drawing shapes and  all three tools let you set AntiAliasing.

Tip: You can use the color palette, or enter the RGB values or the HTML color code to select the shade you want to.

zzPaint multiple images - cascading windows- draw text

The font tool lets you write text on photos using custom font styles and colors. You may also set the alignment of the text horizontally or vertically. To add text, you need to type something in the text box in the Font panel and then use the text tool from the left sidebar to place the text.

Tip: I found the text tool to be a very quick way to watermark an image.

You can open multiple images in zzPaint without any issues and may display them in various ways including tile and cascade views.

The overlapping windows button on the bottom left corner is the resize tool and supports maintaining the aspect ratio and resizing by percentage or pixels. Clicking on the arrows in the bottom left corner brings up the RGB to BGR, Add Alpha Channel, Invert RGB, Flip Horizontal and Flip Vertical tools; these can also be accessed from the Transform menu.

zzPaint Invert RGB

Closing Words

I like the minimal approach of the program but would have liked a blur or arrow tool (both of which I use frequently for editing screenshots). zzPaint could be a useful tool to carry on a USB Flash Drive, or for basic watermarking, resizing. It reminds me a lot of Microsoft Paint but is more capable than Microsoft's program in some regards.

Interestingly, the program has no official website. It is made by Dr. Javier Lechuga and zzPaint only seems to be available on Major Geeks. The link to the developer's site on the download portal takes you to a page on the Cranfield University website where Dr. Lechuga's thesis can be found. I don't think I have seen something like this before related to a software, have you?

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  1. Diana Montgomery said on September 13, 2022 at 2:13 am

    “Interestingly, the program has no official website. It is made by Dr. Javier Lechuga and zzPaint only seems to be available on Major Geeks. The link to the developer’s site on the download portal takes you to a page on the Cranfield University website where Dr. Lechuga’s thesis can be found. I don’t think I have seen something like this before related to a software, have you?”

    I have seen this many times because I am an old geek. MajorGeeks is old school too. When you don’t have a website, you download the program then go to help/about or .diz file to see what they give as the website. This one doesn’t have a .diz file.

    The website was https://javierlechuga2000.wordpress.com/. When you go there, it states “javierlechuga2000.wordpress.com is no longer available. The authors have deleted this site.”

    The software says “built on 12 October 2021”. So, MajorGeeks has the newest and last version which they have dated as 10/14/2021.

    It really isn’t a very good program. There are many that are far better. I have a long list. I was just checking to see what this one was and I enjoy informing younger geeks about the good all days.

  2. Javier Lechuga said on November 1, 2019 at 6:16 pm
  3. Javier Lechuga said on October 23, 2019 at 1:54 am

    I do these things for a hobby. No official web.

    1. another hobby coder said on October 28, 2019 at 12:13 am

      Thank you for making software and providing it for people to use. You’re of course completely free to choose how you want to distribute it. But consider this: If you do it as a hobby, and intend to keep it freeware, then why not make it open source and host it at GitHub? It won’t cost you anything to store the source code and binaries there and other people who like the software might contribute code.

      1. Javier Lechuga said on October 28, 2019 at 2:42 pm

        I work as a c++ software developer for more that 20 years now. These open source strategies are new for me and do not make too much sense.

        I like to keep it personal, so I do not have to do IT. zzPaint 2.0 is now about 5725 lines of C++/Qt code.

      2. Javier Lechuga said on November 2, 2019 at 6:26 am

        Ok, you will find here: https://github.com/lechuga2000

  4. Cinikal said on October 21, 2019 at 9:27 am

    90 degree rotate? I will never call this or any other an editor with only a 90 degree rotate. Gona need free rotate…

  5. John said on October 20, 2019 at 7:16 am

    This comment may not be very relevant, but the name “zzpaint” reminds me of how in the old days some local business in various areas would name themselves “aaa plumbing” and stuff like that to get themselves listed first under plumbing (or whatever business they were in) in the yellow pages, which were often ordered alphabetically within categories (So “a” would be first, and severals “a”s in a row would be before just one “a”, etc..), thinking that would make them more likely to be the first number potential customers would call.

    I wonder if there is some advantage to naming computer software “zzpaint” in terms of search engine optimization and whatever. It would have gotten you listed last in the yellow pages, but things are different in 21st century cyberspace. Anyone know what they might have been angling for?

    If not, I wonder if there is a meaning to the name. Its not obvious to me, but maybe I just haven’t read the right things to know.

    1. Cigologic said on October 30, 2019 at 1:17 pm

      > John: “if there is some advantage to naming computer software “zzpaint” […] I wonder if there is a meaning to the name.”

      Branding perhaps ? The developer Javier Lechuga is more known for his long-running series of screensaver programs all named zzSomething (eg. zzBit, zzPingPong, zzUniverse):

      I assume the prefix “zz” above alludes to screen “sleep”. So why not tap on what already has mass appeal ? Perhaps one day, there will be a program called zzZorroZzz.

      (Incidentally, I have a habit of creating permanent folder names prefixed with single to triple “z”, as well as temporary filenames prefixed or affixed with single to triple “z” — so that they are easier to see in the file manager.)

      Lechuga also has a range of lesser-known scientific, utility & game programs — none of which are prefixed with “zz” — as listed at the following sites :

  6. ULBoom said on October 20, 2019 at 1:55 am

    Another vote for Faststone, dirt simple to use, lots of features. Has a portable version. No reason I can see to go any simpler given its ease of use and capabilities.

    Paint (the thing included with Windows) used to be good for some file conversions but no more. Otherwise, it’s a royal PIA to use. I’ve used zzPaint; the interface is similarly clunky, not much point in it when the spectrum from basic to advanced can be covered by Faststone and say Affinity Photo or a similar combo.

  7. ming said on October 19, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    I almost using Photofiltre free version about 7 years after PhotoImpact got bought from Jasc (PaintShop company), and Photofiltre rich function, low resource usage, stable and easy to use, I never goes for other.
    Paint.NET is fine, but still not handy compare to Photofiltre.
    One of the strong feature on Photofiltre is very good layer support and selection tool.

  8. VioletMoon said on October 19, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    “Interestingly, the program has no official website. It is made by Dr. Javier Lechuga and zzPaint only seems to be available on Major Geeks. The link to the developer’s site on the download portal takes you to a page on the Cranfield University website where Dr. Lechuga’s thesis can be found. I don’t think I have seen something like this before related to a software, have you?”

    No, and I think it highly irresponsible for Ghacks to even mention or recommend a program so absurdly hidden away and developed by who knows whom.

    It’s also odd that the writer who promotes this program just provided readers with another photo imaging tool a few days ago–all the while ignoring comments that included far better alternatives.

    Picture Window Free on October 15; now this photo program. Or yet maybe another desktop/file search program. For a tech writer, Ashwin’s breadth of knowledge seems quite limited.

    1. Timothy J Tibbetts said on October 23, 2019 at 3:59 am

      Because they know that we at MajorGeeks test our programs. We’ve built a reputation since 2001 of doing so. Irresponsible would be to try and damage persons and a website’s reputation without ever trying it in a virtual machine or even Noob 101 – scan with VirusTotal.

    2. John said on October 20, 2019 at 7:06 am

      It might have at least been a good idea for Ash to contact the listed developer’s university office via an phone number or email address included on the faculty page of the university he’s supposed to work at, navigated to via a separate web search (Rather than following a link related to the software), after first confirming the university’s existence by checking several free online sources, making sure it has a professional looking website, etc..

      At minimum, they could have gotten a confirmation or denial from his office that he is the developer of the software (If he doesn’t answer that question or have a secretary get back to you with an answer on his behalf, I would assume he’s never heard of it and spike the review.). However, they also could *probably* have even gotten a short interview with the guy via email or phone, and been able to publish that as a separate companion piece to the hands on review (So they potentially had a chance to reward themselves for doing the grunt work of making sure the software is legit with a cool opportunity for an exclusive interview.).

      Blogs often have people with a lot of raw talent, but sometimes they don’t have the professiomal polish to think to dot and “i”s and cross the “t”s to make sure things are legit, not having necessarily gone to journalism school or worked under experienced people.

      You don’t need to have done either of those two things to get that polish and attention to detail, but if you’re thrown in the deep end without the training or the oversight, or throw yourself in the deep end, you should work hard at learning how to swim on your own. :) It’s hard, but it can be done. The first journalists had to come from somewhere.

      With computer software, the first question I’d be asking myself as a reviewer before setting fingers to keyboard to type the feature is “Is this malware?”. One can never get that stuff 100% right, but on obscure software, it makes sense to do *something* before being the first review to legitimize it. In this case, the obvious way to do that was what I suggested above, but perhaps in more general cases, if its open-source software, they could get a trusted friend who knows code to have a look at it, or at least run some program to see what connections it makes to the outside, what its sending and receiving, and what local resources its accessing while installing and in a few subsequent boots.

      I love this site and that it provides a lot of information that other sites don’t, but I have the same wariness VioletMoon has about some of these software recommendations and reviews. Just because its obscure doesn’t automatically make it malware, but it does mean they might consider doing a little legwork to at least check into it a little to make sure its at least *probably* legit.

      I understand that there is an element of caveat emperor to a reader ever downloading some random piece of software based on a blog article, but GHacks has an audience now and is a somewhat trusted name, which also probably gives it at least some small amount of responsibility for checking into things before promoting them. Even if the review is less than glowering and has as many “cons” relative to “pros”, its still likely to be one of the first relevant results when someone puts the name of the software into a search engine in the future, and people may see the review and assume the software is legit because they know and trust this site, or know of the site. Same goes for regular readers who just see it when its published, because they read all the articles at GHacks.

  9. Whatcolorisabuffalo said on October 19, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    I like FastStone. I just downloaded Photofiltre v6 (older simpler version). Looks good. I always check user comments regarding programs and if negative regarding security issues, I pass. Might be other reasons for the security warning, but meh, I still pass.

  10. Declan said on October 19, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    I still miss Microsoft Photo Editor that was a part of MSOffice up through 2003. It was all I needed for basic stuff, plus a little.

    1. webfork said on November 3, 2019 at 3:58 am

      Totally agree. I loved that program.

  11. Clairvoyance said on October 19, 2019 at 11:55 am

    I think you should also review https://photodemon.org/ it is quite good project worth mentioning and is intended to be portable too, but has a few more features yet still pretty basic compared to GIMP.

    1. webfork said on November 3, 2019 at 3:58 am

      Photodemon is an excellent program. Everytime I open the program up I seem to find something new. Most recently I had some huge, low-compression JPEG images and PhotoDemon helped bring them down below 16 megs better, sharper, and smaller than other programs.

      It carries loads of color controls, filters, and it’s remarkably fast. I wish it was out for more than just Windows, but the developer decided to focus on speed and ease of use versus platform portability. I haven’t tested it under Mac or Linux using WINE or similar tools.

  12. Anonymous said on October 19, 2019 at 7:12 am

    For Win FastStone

  13. John C. said on October 19, 2019 at 6:15 am

    As “Anonymous” said, PhotoFiltre Free is a great alternative. Also, when I tried to go to the ZZPaint author’s website (linked from the MajorGeeks website you refer to), I’m warned by my browser that the page is not secure and prevented from going there.

  14. Dr Know said on October 19, 2019 at 3:07 am

    Why even bother posting software like this?

    Just about every screenshot tool has better editing functions. Heck you’d struggle to find an editor with less!

    I know you need to fill posts but, seriously, junk like this?

  15. Anonymous said on October 19, 2019 at 2:07 am

    Photofiltre (free) has been around for probably 15 years and beats the pants off this and pretty much any option not named Photoshop.

    And it has a portable version too.

  16. Anonymous said on October 19, 2019 at 12:48 am

    On the Linux side of things, one of the Paint-like alternatives to KolourPaint (which has a lot of KDE dependencies) and Pinta (which has Mono as a dependency) is Dibuja.


  17. zzScreensaver Compilation said on October 19, 2019 at 12:29 am

    a nice find

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