Microsoft revives once-dead Paint with new keyboard controls and accessibility enhancements

Microsoft's classic Paint program was doomed, but the Windows 10 May 2019 Update revives the software with new accessibility features.

microsoft paint is saved
Mark Hachman / IDG

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Windows 10’s once-doomed Microsoft Paint hasn’t only been given a reprieve, it’s also apparently been given a new lease on life. The fan favorite software, previously labeled as “deprecated” and all but chucked into the trash bin by Microsoft, is gaining some new capabilities in the Windows 10 May 2019 Update, the company revealed this week.

“We’ve introduced the keyboard as a primary input mechanism,” Microsoft’s Brandon Leblanc wrote on the Windows Insider blog. “Microsoft Paint is already fully functional with mouse and multi-touch tablet input, but customers will now be able to use the app and draw with only their keyboard.” The improvements all you to move the cursor with your keyboard arrows, activate tools with the space bar, and more.

Microsoft is positioning the improvements as an accessibility upgrade. Paint will also behave better with screen readers like Windows Narrator after the May 2019 Update lands, LeBlanc says.

ms paint keyboard controls Microsoft

Some of Microsoft Paint’s new keyboard controls.

Reports of Paint’s death were greatly exaggerated, it seems, and that’s very welcome news indeed. Microsoft Paint may be a vestigial holdover from the Windows operating systems of yesteryear, but I still use the simple, straightforward tool more days than not. Sure, the Paint 3D app introduced a couple years back is cool and all, but it simply isn’t the same thing.

“Paint 3D’s entire purpose is to create fun, cartoony 3D objects and scenes, and share them,” we wrote at the new app’s launch—a very different function than the no-nonsense image editing that the classic Paint provides. As we said while protesting Microsoft’s original Paint abandonment plans, “Paint serves as a quick-and-dirty utility for resizing photos, doodling a quick picture, or hacking together a quick composite or mosaic of digital art.” It’s the sort of table-stakes software that a well-rounded operating system needs.

Props to Microsoft for coming to its collective senses, and for making this iconic software work well for even more people. Look for the new keyboard controls and screen reader improvements to appear in the Windows 10 May 2019 Update later this month, and long live Paint!

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