Microsoft Paint (also known as MS Paint) is a basic graphical tool with few functions, but which is invaluable when a facility for simple illustrations is required. It is a powerful tool which is included with all versions of Microsoft Windows. It can be used in conjunction with other programs to edit and annotate screen shots of actions on the Windows desktop.
Start MS Paint by typing "mspaint" (no space) in the "Run" prompt under the Start Menu. The first thing to remember is that whatever you do, you can undo, either from the menu at the top or with the key combination "CTRL"+"Z". If you are drawing, it will remove what you just did. Then if you hit "Undo" again, you will remove the previous action, and then the one before that, until you have exhausted the undo levels. (Three levels of undo are possible.)
Paint can do things quickly and easily, like drawing a straight line, a box, a circle or an oblong with rounded edges or a complex shape which does not fit into any particular category. Squares and circles and other shapes can be filled with color and you can add text and images, either in boxes or free-form.
Probably one of the principal uses for Paint is to make quick edits to pictures, use an electronic picture as a desktop background image, or to e-mail pictures. (But you must have an e-mail account actually installed on the computer and be able to send local files for you to send one from MS Paint.)
It is most useful as an editor for quick screen shots. All you need to do is to use the key combination "ALT"+"PrtScn" to capture any client window of a running program. ("PrtScn" on its own captures the entire screen. Don't forget to include the "Fn" function key on a laptop.)
Once you have captured an image, you can crop it by using the "Select" or "Free-Form Select" tools. Unlike other graphics programs, MS Paint allows you to select an area, cut or copy it and then paste into a brand new image. (You will be prompted to save your original image.)
Working With MS Paint
Create a screen shot. Capture a screen from within the program or from the Web. With MS Paint you can paste in an image from the Windows Clipboard and make edits to it or add text, color and a few lines and then save it with any file name. If you create another snapshot, this will override the first one. So it is a good idea to work on projects one at a time.
Remember, if you want to work on an aspect of MS Paint make color, shape and size decisions while the tool is highlighted. At the bottom of the work area you will see two rows of colors, one of primary colors and the more subdued colors in the upper row. Black and white are on the left end and you can select foreground and background. If you want to add some labels, drag a shape from top left to bottom right and an oblong text area will appear for you to work in. Next, right click the area to bring up the text tool options. The latest versions of Paint have the capability of color matching with a color "dropper" to copy color areas in an image, an airbrush tool and a paint "bucket" tool which can be used to fill a contiguous area with a specific color. The eraser, pencil and magnifier can also be very useful tools depending on the scenario.
Saving Your Work
MS Paint can save as bitmap file of 16, 256 colors and 24 bit. It can also save as a JPG, GIF, TIFF and PNG format. The reduced colors in the bitmap can be useful for matching up color capabilities with certain documents.
Even if you have Adobe PhotoShop CS, Corel Paint Shop Pro, or another highly developed painting program like Paint Dot Net, or The GIMP, MS Paint is most useful for its "quick and dirty" easy interface and workability.