Sat. Sep 23rd, 2023

Ready to rediscover a beloved fan-favorite image editing app? A summer 2023 update to Windows 11 introduces a revitalized version of Microsoft Paint, offering brand-new features, enhanced tools, and a revamped interface.

A recent Windows 11 Insider Preview Build introduces several fresh updates to Microsoft Paint, encompassing enhancements and additions to its features and interface. If you’re familiar with the legacy Paint program, you’ll find that many of the features and functionalities remain.

These updates enhance the usability of this retro image editing software, allowing users to fully utilize its tools and options. It’s a long-awaited update that brings it in line with the modern Windows 11 interface.

We’ll help you understand what these updates are, how they work, and where to locate them.

How Do I Get The New Microsoft Paint?

As of August 2023, Paint is only integrated within the Windows Insider Program within the Canary or Dev channels, this new version of Paint is not yet available on stable versions of Windows. However, you can check for updates to Paint independent of your current Windows build by following these steps.

First, open the Microsoft Store and select the “Library” option in the bottom left of the window. In the list of apps you should see Paint listed. If not, the new version is not yet available to you. Select “Get Updates” from the upper right.

Screenshot of where the Library and Get Updates icons are in the Microsoft Store app

Once the update is complete, check your version of Paint. You are looking for 11.2304.17.0, or later.

Paint app listed in Microsoft Store's library with yellow circle drawn around it

Return of the crude Paint circles, nice. 

Additionally, there are downloadable .msixbundle files of the new version floating around the internet which you can install manually. Although this workaround is possible, we strongly recommend waiting for the official rollout to download the update through the legitimate channel. Downloading loose .msixbundles can cause significant of damage to your PC if they do not come from a trusted source, and even then this is a process is better suited for more advanced power users willing to take calculated risks.

Here’s What’s New in the Updated Microsoft Paint

Microsoft has made a few changes to the general look and feel of Paint for Windows 11, with many of these updates targeting the interface. You’ll find that some elements, such as menus, are easier to navigate, as they’re organized in clear sections with more distinct separator lines. Microsoft has also brought Paint’s UI design inline with the rest of their newer apps, including updated touch-friendly icons and rounded corners when the window is not maximized. Improved support for keyboard shortcuts and access keys will also help enhance the user experience as well as accessibility.

Screenshot of modernized design of app's window with rounded corners and more distinct separator lines between tools

Dark Mode for Paint

One of the biggest updates coming to Paint is Dark Mode. This feature, which was introduced in Windows 10, has now been rolled out for all versions of Paint as well. Now you can choose between Light and Dark themes depending on your personal preference or simply have it match your Windows 11 theme, which is the system default. This change will prevent Paint’s bright window from clashing with light themes, accommodating those who prefer all-dark themed desktops.

To enable Dark theme, or simply confirm Paint is set to follow your system of settings of using the Dark theme, here’s what you need to do. First, find the new gear icon added for easier access to Paint’s settings on the far right side of the interface.

Screenshot of the gear icon for Paint's settings.

Under the “App theme” section you can manually set the theme in contrast to your Windows overall theme, or have it use the System setting to match whatever you have configured for the rest of your Windows interface already.

Paint's settings menu with App theme options of Light, Dark, and System setting

Better Zoom Controls and Fit to Screen

Along with the traditional presets, users now have access to enhanced zoom controls that offer more precision. This includes the ability to manually enter an exact percentage value in the dropdown menu.

Additionally, a new “fit to screen” button has been introduced to the left of the zoom controls. This feature optimizes the canvas based on your screen or window size, which is especially useful when the window is not maximized. A great shortcut if you are constantly adjusting your desktop workspace as you start to multitask.

Zoom levels in Microsoft Paint.

The updates to Paint in Windows 11 will please die-hard fans who missed their free built-in editor that was perfect for simple edits, highlights, and diagram creation. New features such as Dark Mode, improved zoom controls, enhanced user interface, and fit-to-screen functionality give Microsoft Paint a modern feel while preserving the simplicity of its original version. Microsoft once tried to retire and replace Paint but have now reversed course. Maybe someday we’ll see Paint become a viable, free option to Photoshop and other image editing apps out there, with the addition of things like layers. Until then, it will be good to see the return of a simple, easily navigable, and somehow nostalgic editor.

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By John P.

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