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Microsoft Paint is about to get so much better

A screenshot of Microsoft Paint shows the new layers feature.A screenshot of Microsoft Paint shows the new layers feature. Microsoft

This story is part of our complete Microsoft Events coverage

It’s hard to complain about Microsoft Paint. After all, it’s bundled with Windows for free and provides the basics for annotating a screenshot with boxes, arrows, and text. It’s OK, but compared to every other paint app on the planet, it feels outdated.

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That’s about to change. Microsoft shared the news in a Windows Insiders blog post about some great new features available now for Windows Insider users in the Canary and Dev channels.

Microsoft Paint is finally getting layers and transparency. The two go hand-in-hand to let you build a final image in pieces. Microsoft’s example loads a drawing of a fairy-like creature flying over a town.


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A single click removes the background, another new Paint feature. Adding the Windows background of a grassy hill and intensely blue sky to a layer below finishes the new image.

If you’re not a Windows Insider, you’ll have to wait a bit longer to test out the new features. Hopefully, this is a change Microsoft will advance quickly.

You don’t need to wait for Microsoft, of course. There are plenty of free paint and photo apps with much more you can use right now. We recommend six of the best free photo editing apps, some that run in a browser tab.

Microsoft has the ability to turn Paint into something special, however. I’m eager to see how dramatically the experience will change with the addition of layers and transparency.

With Microsoft’s recent AI focus, perhaps we’ll see image generation become a part of Paint, taking it to a whole new level. We expect to hear about further updates to Paint and other Windows apps at Microsoft’s event on September 21. Rumors suggest Microsoft will announce AI updates to apps, along with devices like the Surface Laptop Studio 2 and Surface Laptop Go 3.