Windows 11 deep dive: Checking out the new Paint app

Windows 11 deep dive: Checking out the new Paint app

Windows 11 is almost here, and with it come a ton of changes. When it releases on October 5th, Windows 11 will bring a new design language, new features, and many new and updated apps. It might take some time to get used to, but we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the new Paint app in Windows 11, a visual refresh of the app we’ve known and loved for decades.

The new Paint app is mostly a visual refresh, meaning it’s going to work very similarly to how it used to work. However, the visual differences are far from minor, and certain things work differently too. Let’s take a closer look.


Paint in Windows 11: The toolbar

As soon as you open the new Paint app, it’s going to feel both familiar and strange. Everything is mostly where it used to be, but a few minor tweaks and new icons give everything a new look. Let’s start from the top: The Save, Undo, and Redo buttons have all been moved from the app’s title bar, and now live alongside the File and View menu options. The View option is no longer a separate tab, and instead just gives you all the options in a small dropdown menu. Because of that, there’s also no Home tab – all the tools are always visible.

Paint UI in Windows 11

That toolbar looks quite different, too. Every option has been given a new icon, and options are also distributed in more balanced ways. In the Image category, the flip and rotate feature have been decoupled, so both settings are easier to spot now. The color picker now uses colored circles instead of squares to represent the colors, and the same goes for the option to select a custom color. You may also notice something that’s missing – the button to open an image in Paint 3D is gone. Microsoft seems to want Paint to be the standard image editing tool in Windows 11.

As we mentioned above, the View tab has been replaced by a dropdown menu, which lets you toggle gridlines, rulers, and the status bar. The options to zoom in and out have been removed from this menu, as you can change the zoom level using the status bar at the bottom of the app. However, you can reset back to the default 100% zoom level using this menu.

All of the dropdown menus in paint have been updated to use a cleaner and more compact design, too, but the options are still the same. The File menu has been made much smaller, with droplists for items that have additional options. The brushes menu now lists every brush with their respective name and a clear sample of what the brush looks like, and so it uses a list format instead of a grid. The list of brush sizes has also been updated to immediately say how thick each size is in pixels. Before you’d have to mouse over the option and wait for the tooltip to appear.

At the time of writing, some menus still use old designs, like the custom color picker and the image resize window. There’s also no dark mode support yet, but that’s planned and was shown off by Panos Panay in a tweet earlier this year.

The canvas and tools

The canvas hasn’t seen a ton of changes in Paint for Windows 11, but there are some notable ones. For starters, in the stand view, the canvas borders have been moved away from the borders of the app window. This does result in less usable space, but it’s likely this way to help prevent users from accidentally touching other UI elements while drawing. The contrast between the canvas and the empty area of the app is also much less noticeable now, at least in light mode.

Most of the tools work the same exact way, but Microsoft has also significantly revamped how the text tool works. Instead of taking over the main toolbar, the text tools now have their own toolbar where you can change font, font size, and – a new feature in Windows 11 – the alignment relative to the text box. You can also choose to add background fill to the text box or not.

Text editing tools in Paint

Down at the bottom of the canvas, you’ll still see the status bar, but now with a refreshed look. Much like the rest of the UI, it looks cleaner and matches the Windows 11 UI.

One thing worth mentioning is that the new Paint app seems to take a  few extra seconds to fully load. This may just be due to us using an early preview version of the app, but if you notice it on your end, it’s not just you. Hopefully, this is something that will be improved with future updates.

And that’s about it for the new Paint app in Windows 11. All of the same tools are still here, and you’re undoubtedly familiar with them, but things do look a little different. This was a long overdue change, and it certainly contributes to Windows 11 feeling more coherent, so we welcome the update.

Windows 11 includes many other new features and apps, and we’ve taken a closer look at many of them already. Be sure to check out our other Windows 11 deep dives below:

If you want to try out Windows 11 for yourself, make sure you your PC meets the minimum requirements and has a supported processor for Windows 11. You can also run the PC Health Check app to see right away if you can upgrade.

About author

João Carrasqueira
João Carrasqueira

Editor at XDA Computing. I've been covering the world of technology since 2018, but I've loved the field for a lot longer. And I have a weird affinity for Nintendo videogames, which I'm always happy to talk about.

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