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Is there a simple, lightweight replacement for Microsoft Paint that someone non-tech-savvy (e.g. A grandma) could use on an old laptop with Windows XP on it for basic photo manipulation?

I'm looking for something with these characteristics:

  • Should be easy to crop while zoomed out or zoomed in

  • Should be able to save as JPEG, preferably keeping the original quality as much as possible

  • Bonus points if it can shrink images and save them so that they're easier to send by email

  • Bonus bonus points if it can shrink lots of pictures, instead of manually making the user do them one-by-one. :)


  • Should be lightweight and native, and specifically, should not depend on Python, Java, .NET, or other such frameworks. (The laptop is very old, so it doesn't run these frameworks well.)

  • Should not be confusing for simple tasks, like Photoshop, GIMP, etc...

    (e.g. Yesterday I had to spend ~30 minutes figuring out why the Crop functionality in Photoshop was forcing the image's aspect ratio when I didn't want it to... it was quite painful. This shouldn't happen.)

Microsoft Paint fits all of these pretty darn well, except that it can't zoom out or crop very easily.
Is there anything similar that can also do those?

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closed as not constructive by random Feb 14 '12 at 14:39

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@Gigili: It's a bit more work than I'm hoping for -- I'd have to get libjpeg, design the GUI, and write a bit of annoying C/C++ GUI code and stuff to get it all working. It'd take a few weeks. :\ –  Mehrdad Jan 9 '12 at 23:08
+1 for the "Should be lightweight and native, and specifically, should not depend on the .NET framework" requirement. –  Cody Gray Jan 10 '12 at 4:48
Regarding the "crop" in MSPaint I do not see how easier than selecting the rectangle to crop and then "Edit/CopyTo..." could get. –  obaqueiro Jan 10 '12 at 9:35
You know, with all your requirements it might be easier to just get a new laptop that can run Paint.NET. –  Luke Jan 11 '12 at 16:39
I don't understand how do they close a question like this with such a bad reson... –  hkBattousai Jun 17 '12 at 8:26
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7 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Xnview: It's not a paint program, but it can process pictures quick.

Xnview, can batch process a filtering of a rack of files many times faster than photoshop and its batching. What was going to take 3-4 days auto processing 1million small files in photoshop, I was able to process in a day with xnviews filtering. Changing the color and levels and matrix, and saving out less compressed.

Get into the "batch" section, and switch to the "transformations" tab, and add in any things you want to do , adjust the levels of what you want to do, and save it as a script. That script can then be applied to the processing of a directory. Potentially a quick script transforming of files of the exact same type, into the exact same structure, could be reused by a non-technical person , but script is script, it would have to be created, have files of the same type, the script would have to be selected and run.

For cropping manually mass files, you can use the <- and -> arrows to get to the next file in the directory, so the repetitive process of loading the next file is easier. the crop tool is in the toolbar. Fighting resizing , still exists, they have quick parameters for resizing standard sizes, but choosing forced aspect or allowing off-aspect can not be made all encompasing. Either the crop fits the aspect or you have to off-aspect the resize. Either your resize fits the aspect or it has to be off-aspect, there are no 2 ways about it, that will Keep aspect right

That is the one big issue with crop & Resize, which is where locking the crop aspect (or selection) is very needed. and these few keys become very usefull. Press [D] Lock the aspect of the selection, then same aspect (as original) resizes will go as planned.

Force selection ratio to be same as image   D 

Force selection ratio to "Custom" C 

Free selection ratio from any restrictions A 

Swap selection's height and width  TAB 

from: http://wiki.xnview.com/index.php/Viewer_Mode_Shortcut_Keys

Set a custom selection aspect then press [C] With that minor addition in know how, you can crop the same as the resize your going to use. (like setting the aspect for selection in photoshop) The resize will go as planned (more often). Loose crops (say 340x120), then locked resizes (say 340x200) dont match. Some way to lock the selection and crop to the aspect of the resize. . To finish at all the same size, I could adjust the "canvas" itself (with letterbox or pillars).

Jpeg compression settings can be sort of "locked" in, which is weird, it just applies the save settings that you have set in the preferances. you have an option to change that parameter, but basically you are not herassed with the compression settings at each save.

With the <- -> next picture feature right there, it asks about saving (or just blind overwrites) with no requesters to fill out. . That means modifying all the pictures in a directory is so fast , you will want to backup that directory first :-) especially if you have a touchless save going on.

It is still missing a few things, like manual touch-up of parts of the pictures, and the painting aspect of it is a complete waste. It is a viewer, it's a filterer, resizer, cropper, tagger, converter, but not a paint program. It is simple and fast to process masses of files. It is still a tool for work, and not a wizard to step people through.

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+1 while the interface has a bit too many options, it still looks pretty promising -- the drag/crop looks pretty easy. :D Thanks! :) –  Mehrdad Jan 10 '12 at 4:04
I like how it quickly resets the View after a resize, that saves a few zooming steps. and ConBright and GammaSat, are really usefull for dampening pictures for wallpaper. –  Psycogeek Jan 10 '12 at 4:14
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IrfanView, despite its somewhat dated look, could fit the bill (and is one of the lightest viewers/"light editors" around).

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lol... how do you crop? It's too complicated... don't see anything in the toolbars, took me like 5 minutes to see something on the menu, and took me more time to realize that the dragging isn't just for zooming. :) If it was on a toolbar (like the selection in Paint) that'd have been a lot more ideal. –  Mehrdad Jan 9 '12 at 22:21
Yes, it has a strange interface, but once you are accustomed to it (and to its keyboard shortcut) it's really easy and quick to use. –  Matteo Italia Jan 9 '12 at 22:25
I might get accustomed to it, but keyboard shortcuts aren't exactly 'grandma-friendly', so to speak. :) –  Mehrdad Jan 10 '12 at 3:55
I don’t see what the problem is. Just press Ctrl+A to select all (and display the selection rectangle), then drag the cropping box as desired, and finish with Ctrl+Y. Simple. (Also, Shift+C lets you do precise cropping.) –  Synetech Jan 10 '12 at 4:06
Easy, fast, light, amazingly powerful with regard to batch functionality. Command line options and plenty of keyboard functions for those who prefer, everything else is in the menus, functions do just what they say. My go-to for ease, speed, and low overhead for more years than I can remember. –  Dennis Jan 10 '12 at 17:32
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Have you considered Picasa?

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Nope, didn't think about that one! I'll try it, thanks! +1 –  Mehrdad Jan 9 '12 at 23:08
+1 - Easier to use than some of the other suggestions, plus all it's manipulations are reversible (it keeps the originals stashed away to allow undo even months later). Would suggest turning facial recognition scans off on an older machine though. –  Bevan Feb 13 '12 at 22:16
Care to explain why this is a good suggestion, because as an editor alone, I think it adds far too much overhead, I wouldn't call that simple –  Ivo Flipse Feb 14 '12 at 7:58
@IvoFlipse: As you say, there is substantial overhead there and Picasa is much more than a lightweight photo editor. However because Picasa's photo editing controls are far fewer and simpler than (say) Photoshop, I can envisage a grandmother being relatively undaunted by them. –  RedGrittyBrick Feb 14 '12 at 10:19
Picasa is as much a photo library as an editor. Not really a replacement for Paint. –  Michael Feb 14 '12 at 14:14
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I haven't used it in a while, but Pixelformer might be a possibility.

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Doesn't seem to be able to zoom out. :( –  Mehrdad Jan 10 '12 at 4:01
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Try mtPaint, it is free, open-source and runs on old computer well, as it has low requirements. Available on both linux and windows (it comes preloaded with some distributions of linux).

...... Happy painting..... :-D

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Although it is not relevant to question asked you can also give a try to rgbPaint mtpaint.sourceforge.net/rgbpaint.html –  Suyash Mohan Jan 10 '12 at 7:54
+1 looks like a great option! :D –  Mehrdad Jan 10 '12 at 8:02
Thanks man. This is my first answer on this site. B-) –  Suyash Mohan Jan 10 '12 at 8:04
Thanks man. This is the first answer in this thread. ;) [that addresses paint in general, not just for photos] –  naxa Nov 11 '12 at 0:59
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Yet another option: FastStone Image Viewer

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Paint.Net is a pretty nice alternative to add to this list.

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protected by Tom Wijsman Feb 14 '12 at 12:37

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