GIMP and Paint.NET are free image editors, but they are very different from each other. It can be difficult to know which one is the best for you.

The world of photo editors is fun. For most people, choosing the right tool is a balancing act. Do you want to go for a free program or a program that costs money? Go the second option and you run the risk of making a costly mistake. Do you choose something simple that gets the job done or do you prefer something powerful and professional? Make the wrong choice here, and you may end up limited by too basic a program or overwhelmed by something too complicated for your needs.

If you go the free software route, you'll find that GIMP and Paint.NET are two names that keep coming back. Both programs are very popular and rightly so, but what should you install?

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The basics

Paint.NET started its career as an unofficial successor to Microsoft Paint, but don't be discouraged, it's much further along than you suggest.

This is just a Windows program, and if it is possible to download the software for free from the developer's website, you can also buy it from the Microsoft store if you like the idea. A financial contribution. But there is absolutely no obligation to go for the paid version, and you literally lose something if you decide not to pay.

GIMP is available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. It's extremely powerful and often pitched as an alternative to Photoshop, but it does require a learning curve that can be bewildering for newcomers. Speaking of which, let's see how these two image editors compare.


Take a look at GIMP and Paint.NET and you'll notice a marked difference in their appearance. Paint.NET looks like a fairly traditional Windows program, while GIMP is a bit more unusual in that it started life on other platforms.

In fact, it was the interface that many people were used to finding puzzling about GIMP, especially the way it consisted of multiple individual windows. The software now uses a single window mode by default, but it can be divided into several parts if you wish. However, for Windows users, GIMP has a much less familiar feel, and it can take some getting used to.

Paint.NET offers limited interface customization with the ability to show and hide different tool panels. You also have the option of a color palette to adapt the program to the rest of your system.

GIMP interface


Of the two, one cannot deny that GIMP is the more powerful of the two programs, but that does not necessarily mean that it is the better. GIMP and Paint.NET both support layers and have all the basic image editing options and tools you can reasonably find.

But even a quick look at GIMP's menus and toolbars clearly shows that it's the most feature-rich, and you'll find plenty of tools for it. photoshop style, such as healing brush, perspective tool, etc. There are also powerful color and level correction options, path creation, mask options, and more. Everything you need to fully unlock your creative side.

All that said, Paint.NET is a more than successful program. You will find everything you need, not only for daily photo editing, but also for those times when you want to get a little more creative. There is support for layers, although it is more basic than in GIMP, and a range of filters, level adjustments and effects.

Both programs support brushes, but the treatment that GIMP does is a bit more sophisticated and advanced. GIMP and Paint.NET can be used as photo editors, but the range of tools available in earlier versions also means that it is fully capable as a tool. Creating an original work.


The functionality of GIMP and Paint.NET can be extended using plugins, and a wide range is available to everyone. For Paint.NET, there is an extensive library of individual plugins and plugin packs. Some of them are installed by dragging and dropping files into the appropriate folder, while others have installers to make your job easier. Unfortunately, it is only possible to use plugins specially coded for Paint.NET, but there is an alternative to many popular tools that have been ported.

GIMP users are spoiled for choice when it comes to plugins. The image editor is already very powerful, but the range of options can be expanded with GIMP-specific plugins, but also with Photoshop plugins. Yes, you can use actual Photoshop plugins in GIMP, although not all of them are guaranteed to work. GIMP also supports the automation of common tasks using scripts.

Paint.NET interface

Ease of use and performance.

Image editing is a process that consumes graphics and processor resources. Therefore, the more powerful your computer is, the better your experience will be. Paint.NET is without a doubt the fastest and lightest software, even running on older hardware. On the other hand, GIMP can seem a bit slow even on relatively powerful systems, but if you use the full power of the image editor, you'll likely take things up a notch. Seriously and that you are using a serious computer.

It's hard to get away from the fact that software, amazing as GIMP is, is undoubtedly Paint.NET the more accessible of the two. GIMP has a learning curve that its more basic counterpart simply does not. That said, learning to fully exploit the potential of GIMP is truly worthwhile.

Updates and development.

Paint.NET is a sole proprietor, which makes it even more impressive. Despite the small development team, updates are always pleasantly postponed to resolve issues, improve performance, and add new features. For those who like to be ahead of the curve, there is a beta program you can join so you can see the path the software will take.

GIMP is also constantly updated and the project website contains a complete roadmap for future releases, giving you an idea of ​​what to expect later.

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