Nobody knows why Apple has never introduced a painting app to OS X. After all, they invented this kind of desktop app with MacPaint back in 1984.
For all its sins Microsoft Paint – supplied with every version of Windows since 3.1 – has all kinds of uses. You can let kids play with it. You can draw quick diagrams for emailing. Some people even produce proper art with it.
Here are some free alternatives if you downright can’t live without a splash of Paint in your life.
- Paintbrush: A free, open source swap-in to bring Paint to the Mac. It hasn’t been updated for a few years but still runs great on modern Macs.
- Pinta: Somewhat confusingly, Pinta is a free, open source swap-in for the Paint.Net app that was originally created as a more powerful swap-in replacement for the original Paint on Windows. As such, Pinta subtly expands on Paint’s original feature set without being overwhelming or requiring expert knowledge.
- Paint 2: Says the developers of this free but slightly more sophisticated app: “Paint 2 is an easy-to-use drawing tool and image editor which can help you to draw pictures and edit your existing photos. With it you can sketch and crop, rotate, scale images very easily. At the same time, you can and text onto images as you want. The app also supports layers, so you can re-edit them freely.”
- Krita: A free pro-grade drawing tool for both Mac and PC that has some hefty features designed to produce serious art. Worth learning if you can spare the time but arguably not best for children or for quick annotations/sketches.
- Use the original Paint.exe via Wine: WINE is software for your Mac that lets you run Windows software, so you can simply grab the Paint.exe from a nearby PC and run it on your Mac. Arguably this is a little more complicated that the other options here but worth it if you just can’t do without the original MS Paint experience, and PlayOnMac provides an easier WINE-based experience. For best results try and grab the Paint.exe file from a Windows XP installation. A quick Google will reveal several sites offering it for download.
- OS X’s annotation tools: Although this is really for diagrams only, if you insert a picture into a mail message you can click the down arrow at the top right, then the Markup option, to annotate on top of it. For example, you could find a location using the Maps app, click the Share button to send an image of it to a mail message, and then draw useful notes on top. Preview has the same markup capabilities, of course – just click the toolbox icon when viewing an image.