I have a quite powerful graphics card in my computer. I am forced to use paint.net (http://getpaint.net/) for a particular graphic design competition. Can I make sure that paint.net makes use of my GPU? There seems to be no out-of-the box functionality for this.

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    Does Paint.net even have an hardware acceleration? – Ramhound Jan 22 '16 at 16:20
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    Note that a GPU is not a general purpose CPU, and you cannot just run any old task on the GPU. Only certain special tasks can be offloaded to the GPU, which is why there is no option to do so in just about any case. The system will decide when it is possible and warranted to do so . – Frank Thomas Jan 22 '16 at 16:43
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    @Ramhound yeah, the newer versions seem to... – rahuldottech Jan 22 '16 at 18:22

Its not possible (least the way you want to do it), and its worth looking at the competition to understand why.

Adobe's Photoshop (which I suppose is the gold standard for graphics editing software these days) is explicitly designed to use the GPU in order to render and do various transforms and other processes. However, paint.net isn't - and I'll come to that in a bit.

That said, one of the strengths of paint.net is its plugin system, and while you can't have the same sort of GPU acceleration, plugins can be written that take advantage of GPU acceleration. Here's an example of one - a plugin that implements GPU accelerated blurs

The article has one reason why PDN may not have GPU acceleration yet

A GPU that supports DirectCompute is required along with Windows 7, or Windows Vista SP2 with the Platform Update (it needs DirectX 11, in other words). Most recent NVIDIA and ATI/AMD cards support this, although Intel’s do not. The latter is a big reason why I have not properly pursued this for Paint.NET yet – there is no high-performance software fallback for DirectCompute. (The “reference driver” does work, but is very slow because it’s intended to render “perfectly” without any regard to performance, and is mostly useful for GPU and driver engineers to make sure they are on the right track.)

Newer versions (well 4.0 on wards anyway) seem to use direct2d by default, but that's hardly making full use of your GPU - certainly not the same way as Photoshop and its opencl based fancy stuff.

To check if that's turned on is pretty simple.

enter image description here

At the end of the day with limited resources, and broader compatibility, baking it in makes no sense. In theory, some intrepid programmer could write plugins to do it, but as is, both other existing answers seem a little bogus. PDN dosen't support hardware acceleration until its written in or there's plugins that use it. Merely asking your system politely to use the GPU isn't good enough. Looks like PDN does support it but to a limited extent, and you might end up having good results supplementing it with appropriate plugins


This is a common problem with the NVidia drivers. They suck at allowing you to specify which graphics card to use in the case of multiple graphics cards in your system.

You can force the use of the higher-end graphics card when program Paint.net is launched by opening the NVIDIA Control Panel -> 3D Settings -> Manage 3D Settings -> Program Settings tab, choose Paint.net from the Select a program to customize pull menu (use Add button if it's not in the list to add the executable's path. Choose the desired GPU from the pull list Select the preferred graphics processor for this program. Close the NVidia Control Panel. That's it.

NVIDIA is known to also use shadow profiles blocking GPU acceleration on certain programs without telling the user (VLC is a known issue, for example). I'm uncertain of Paint.net is one of them. If the above doesn't work, try renaming the Paint.net .exe file, and then adding the renamed file to the pull list in the NVIDIA Control Panel as described above. That will bypass any shadow profiles.

  • If Paint.NET does not have hardware acceleration, setting the configuration, won't do a great deal. Which is the reason I asked the question in the first place. – Ramhound Jan 22 '16 at 17:08
  • Yes, OP wasn't clear about whether they were seeking GPU acceleration which is application side, or dealing with the slowdowns inherent to rendering on an integrated GPU in the case of a dual-GPU setup. I assumed the latter since, as you correctly point out, there's nothing to be done in the case of the former. – Mekki MacAulay Jan 22 '16 at 17:26
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    @MekkiMacAulay Thanks! and for the record, the default exe file is called PaintDotNet.exe – rahuldottech Jan 22 '16 at 18:24

You can right click on its shortcut and use "Run with graphics processor.." option to force it to run with NVIDIA GPU instead of your iGPU. Edit : As stated by Ramhound in comments section, please note you'll have this option only if you're using a laptop with switchable graphics.

Must be real hard to find.

  • Some more details on where this option is specifically would be helpful. – Ramhound Jan 22 '16 at 17:09
  • I don't see how it can be any clearer. Surely anyone who is capable of running a program can right click on its shortcut too. Epic downvote btw. I hope its voter can enlighten me with a explanation. – Mustafa Aktaş Jan 22 '16 at 22:02
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    It was my vote. I don't believe the answer is clear, I literally indicated this, but you disagree with my opinion. Once the answer is clear, that will allow me, to reverse the vote. I right clicked on a shortcut, with a nvidia card, didn't have "Run with graphics adapter.." which is the entire reason I ASKED – Ramhound Jan 22 '16 at 22:11
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    You have to understand that I review hundreds of questions a week, if you think I am "stalking" you then report my behavior, but I guarantee you I am doing nothing of the sort. You have this option because your using a laptop, with integrated graphics and a mobile NVidia GPU, a desktop with just a Nvidia card isn't going to have this option. – Ramhound Jan 23 '16 at 16:53
  • @Ramhound windows 8 and 10 start menus don't have this option :( – rahuldottech Jan 26 '16 at 9:02

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