Microsoft Paint for Mac: 8 Fantastic Alternatives

I remember when I used to have computer classes in school—we all used to spend our class time in MS Paint creating cool drawings. Later, I found out Paint was useful for other things, and I started using it as a quick image editor for tasks like adding captions to an image. Like me, there are a lot of people that don’t need to use a full-featured app like Photoshop or GIMP to make and modify their images.

That’s where Paint-like apps come in. Like their original Windows counterpart, they tend to be simple and very easy to learn and use. The problem is, there are no bundled apps with your Mac that do what Microsoft Paint does (at least not any more).

If you too are looking for a MS Paint equivalent for Mac, then check out some of the options we are presenting to you today!

Paintbrush

Paintbrush

Paintbrush

Paintbrush is probably the application that resembles Microsoft Paint best. They even market it as “Paint for Mac OS”. It’s simple: you open a new file with the dimensions you want, and it shows you a white canvas with a toolbox that has all the tools Paint has – right down to the spray can! You draw away, then save the image in any popular image format.

At the price of free, this is Paint for Mac OS. Everything about it reminds me of Paint. Simple and cool, if you’re looking for a replacement to MS Paint, look no further.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later
Developer: Soggy Waffles

Rita

Rita

Rita

Rita is very similar to Paintbrush, though perhaps a touch more complicated. The interface is pretty much the same as Paintbrush’s, but my problem with it is that the icons from the toolbox are confusing, I don’t know what most of them do by glancing at them. And it’s also a bit complicated to change the size of the canvas.

This is “sort of” free. The developer says you should pay for it, but the trial is endless and has all the features available. Still, you should pay for it and support the developer if you use it regularly. If you’d like a few extra features over the basic toolset (such as the ability to overlay a grid over you drawing), this one’s for you.

Price: $20
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later
Developer: Niklas Frykholm

Seashore

Seashore

Seashore

Seashore sits somewhere in the middle: it’s not a fullly-featured image editing app (although it is based on GIMP), and it’s also not super-basic like Paintbrush or Rita. It’s simple enough, has almost no learning curve, and it could very well be used as a Paint replacement for Mac. Personally, it’s what I’ve been using recently for resizing/editing images.

Seashore has a clean yet informative interface, with the usual Effects and Draw buttons and a small Inspector-like window where you can check information such as the coordinates, color and dimension of your images. It may not be as basic as other Paint-like applications, but it’s definitely a great alternative and you should check it out.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later
Developer: ”Community Effort”

Pixen

Pixen

Pixen

Pixen is another middle-of-the-road application. It’s billed as a “pixel editor”, and a “more powerful version of Paint, or a simpler Photoshop”. Well, let’s just say it isn’t as fun as Paint. It’s really an app for pixel artists, and there’s not much you can do with it if you just want to open a canvas and start drawing a stick man.

It lacks the classic tools such as the spray can – or even the brush – but if you are looking for a more professional and functional version of Paint, then I guess this could work for you.

Price: Free
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later
Developer: Open Sword

Pixelmator

Pixelmator

Pixelmator

Pixelmator is a beautifully designed app. It really is a “pro version” of Paint, as it has all the features Paint has, and it also adds hoards of extra functionality (layers, for one). Despite the far improved feature-set, it manages to retain a good level of simplicity.

It may not quite be a Photoshop replacement, but it does a pretty good job at bringing the functionality of Paint to a whole new level. If you are willing to spend $60 on a fully-fledged graphics editor, you won’t regret buying Pixelmator.

Price: $59
Requires: Mac OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Pixelmator Team

Acorn

Acorn

Acorn

Acorn is marketed as a “image editor for humans”, poking fun at overly complicated editing tools like Photoshop and GIMP. It really is very similar to Pixelmator. Its interface is simple enough: there’s the canvas and the toolbox at the side, as well as the layer menu. The tools, once clicked, bring out an extra menu where you can tweak the usual settings (color, size, etc.).

While Pixelmator has premium features like easy social network integration and a very beautiful interface, Acorn is cheaper but still fills the basic need of a power-packed Paint replacement.

Price: $49.95
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later
Developer: Flying Meat

Scribbles

Scribbles

Scribbles

Scribbles is a small and gorgeous app made by Loren Brichter, the developer behind Tweetie. It takes a slightly different approach to the other apps, as the interface is rather unconventional.

The interface is simple, graphic, and a joy to use – there are only a few buttons on the screen at any time. One of them brings up the tools, one lets you pick colors, one of them controls the layers, and a slider controls the size of the tool you are using. Everything else is occupied by the canvas (which is completely fluid and resizable).

It’s weird to use at first, but once you get used to it you’ll love it; and in no time you’ll be creating gorgeous pieces with it.

Price: $19.95
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later
Developer: atebits

ArtRage

ArtRage

ArtRage 2

ArtRage has made a bunch of apps, including their recent iPad app and the “Studio” versions of ArtRage 2. What I guess they were trying to do was bring the whole “real painting” idea to an app, and they did it well.

You can truly create some gorgeous pieces of art with this app, just look at the examples they have in their website. The interface is cool, but I’m not sure how well it works. You have the canvas and around it there are buttons and “wheels” where you tweak settings and choose tools.

This is definitely a new take on Paint-like apps, as it truly is a “paint” app. It may not work well for you if you just want it to mess around and modify a couple of images, but if you are serious about creating painted images that look real on your computer, this is a pretty good deal.

Price: $20
Requires: Mac OS X 10.4 or later
Developer: ArtRage

Conclusion

Here we have presented some very good substitutes to Microsoft Paint on Mac OS X. There really are plenty of options, and each of them has its own set of capabilities and deficiencies.

If you want something easy and free, I would go with Paintbrush. If you want something a bit more professional and with more features, then you could use a paid app like Pixelmator or Scribbles. It really comes down to what you want to do with your image editor, and what type of functionality you need.

If you think we’ve missed some alternatives, please feel free to share them in the comments below!

Thanks to Radium for sponsoring Mac.AppStorm this week! It’s simple, functional, and an absolutely fantastic way to listen to the radio on your Mac. Plus, we have a 25% discount for Mac.Appstorm readers this week only!


  • http://adrusi.com Adrian

    Pixelmator is much more than a paint-type application. It has support for layers, layer groups, all kinds of filters, and can almost completely replace photoshop. I use it all the time for photo editing and we design and I’ve never felt it was lacking something photoshop has.

    • http://parentallyscorned.tumblr.com/ Steven

      I definitely agree with adrian here it may be a “less than photoshop application” yet it derives some of the many features that photoshop users have come to love, and that is why I agree because he makes a good point it is also a great program. If I didn’t already have photoshop I would defiantly have gotten pixelmator before I made the investment in some adobe editing programs like photoshop

    • Jenn

      Agree with both you. I cannot believe that Pixelmator is compared to paint…

    • http://appflow.co.uk Daniel Groves [AppFlow]

      Also agree. Having reviewed Pixelmator myself for AppFlow, I would happily confirm that it could replace photoshop for 99% of tasks.

  • http://abdusfauzi.com abdusfauzi

    im using pixelmator to replace Paint. Totally fits in between Paint (too basic) and Photoshop (Advance). A very nice app for quick and dirty editing or resizing.

  • http://www.tech-active.com Andrew

    Apple Much More Advance Launched 4.2 Already and 4.3 Due in December.

    iPhone / iPad Apps – iPhone application developer london

  • http://www.iynque.com iynque

    A replacement for MS Paint? That sounds like wanting your broken arm back because now people can’t sign your cast.

    I still prefer photoshop, but until Apple puts a crop function into QuickLook (hint hint, nudge nudge) I use pixelmator for quick edits.

    • http://appflow.co.uk Daniel Groves [AppFlow]

      You can crop in preview ;-)

  • KURT

    FUCK EVERYTHING I DONT HAVE 20$ TO BUY THIS SHIT.. WELL I DID BUT I BOUGHT METH WITH IT.

  • muhannad ELMANSURI

    that was a very helpful topic, thank you

  • http://idk jordon

    This helped alot

  • S. Kloss

    I loved Paint and think Paintbrush is not nearly as good. There are lots of things I used to be able to do in Paint that I can’t do in Paintbrush. Also, my color quit working–doesn’t mater whether you want to fill with red, green, or blue…it fills with black and black only. A poor substitute for Paint. Now I’m looking for something that is no more complicated than Paint but at least capable of doing what I could do with Paint.

  • Natalie

    This probably has an obvious answer, but seeing as I’ve had a Mac for all of three days … Would any of the free Paint alternatives mentioned above allow for me to insert images into an open one? Like when you copy a pic off the net and paste it onto the open file in Paint?

  • Joe

    Anyone else found it interesting that Paintbrush’s developer name is “Soggy Waffles?”

  • http://www.rdsisemore.com/paintds Dave

    Here is another powerful OSX paint program

  • Wesley

    My Paintbrush keeps crashing. And also, when I save, the picture is saved as a blank white canvas and I then have to go and redo all of my work editing the photo, only for it to be saved blank again. PAIN… Thanks for this post, I’m definitely looking into other programs, but definitely will NOT be using Paintbrush again.

  • Wesley

    One would think, for such a simple program it would at least be stable. flip.

  • http://student w j c

    no comment

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