Microsoft Paint used to be an app we all took for granted. That is, we did until Microsoft tried to put it out to pasture several years ago. After the public outcry, Paint didn’t just get a reprieve. It got a new lease on life—no mere stay of execution, but rather, fresh features started being added to the program. The latest additions: support for transparency and layers.
Announced in a Windows Insider blog post, these advanced editing features are now rolling out to the Canary and Dev channels with Paint version 11.2308.18.0 and higher, ahead of a wider potential rollout. Layers behave as they do in other image editors: You can create multiple, with the ability to show or hide them, duplicate them, and merge them together. Meanwhile, support for transparency means that when you erase parts of a layer, elements from layers underneath will become visible. Before, erasing parts of an image only filled them in with the active background color. You can now also open and save transparent PNG files in Paint.
When combined with the recently added background removal tool, these new features now let you create rudimentary composite images in Paint. Or at least, that’s the expectation—updates released to Windows Insiders are never guaranteed to make it to the public. Still, as popular and beloved as Paint is, the chances of seeing its glow-up in a general release are good. And it stirs the hope that more features (like a blur tool and a crop tool with the option of fixed ratios) could make an appearance someday soon, too.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for a more powerful image editor, you can check out our top 5 recommendations for Photoshop alternatives. They’re not quite as dead-simple and approachable as Paint is, but they’re easy enough to figure out—and best of all, they don’t cost anything to try.
Alaina Yee is PCWorld's resident bargain hunter—when she's not covering software, PC building, and more, she's scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.