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How to Paint on a Mac

by tmnsoon

We’ve come a long way since MacPaint and ClarisWorks were included with every Mac, and Apple has no equivalent to the Paint program which comes with Windows. So how do you paint on a Mac? It depends on what exactly you’re looking to do, so this article will explain how from the simplest option to the most complex.

MacPaint and ClarisWorks, included with every Mac in the 80s and 90s respectively.

1. Markup images using your Mac’s native Preview application

MacOS has always come with a built-in image and PDF viewer called Preview. And more recent versions of Preview actually allow you to make basic changes to images in addition to viewing them, such as rotating, adding text and arrows, and even adding signatures. To access these tools simply open an image in Preview and select the below button in the menubar:

This button will bring up the markup toolbar, allowing you to edit the picture or PDF. For a detailed explanation on how to use these tools check out this article.

2. Download the free and simple Paintbrush application

If you want a Paint program that is basically the same as the one which comes with Windows, look no further than Paintbrush. This application predates the Mac App Store and is not listed there, although the developers updated it in 2017 so it’s not been abandoned for years. Paintbrush can be downloaded from Sourceforge here.

3. Download Sketchbook or another free sketch/paint app from the Mac App Store

If you want a more sophisticated app for sketching/drawing/painting specifically, the Mac App Store offers numerous free apps for this (as well as paid ones). One of the best free drawing apps on the Mac App Store is Sketchbook, pictured below:

4. Purchase Pixelmator from the Mac App Store

To get something with more Photoshop-like capabilities Pixelmator is a great application, which I personally prefer to Photoshop. Pixelmator is available on the Mac App Store and although it is a paid app, the twenty-something dollars it costs is well worth it to have a great all-round drawing and editing app on your Mac forever. Bear in mind that Adobe now sells its products as monthly subscriptions, so unless you need the really pro features you’d be best to pick up Pixelmator.

5. Purchase a Photoshop subscription from Adobe

And of course, the industry standard for image editing is available for MacOS. Although it’s far from what you’d want if you just want to paint on your Mac, Photoshop can be purchased as a subscription from Adobe’s website here.

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