I would be extremely grateful to anyone pointing me in the direction of the Mac OS X analogue for the free Windows image-editing software Paint.NET.

Basically the way I use it is I take lots of screenshots for work, then put arrows in there, some ovals and text - it's all for documentation purposes - mainly for Confluence.

The feature I can't live without is the arrows - they have points where you can easily curve them creating a very good visual e.g. for tutorials.

And of course it's great that you can do all of that in a lightweight app, couple of clicks manner.


You should try Skitch. It does exactly what you want, take screenshot, put arrows, etc.

Get your point across with fewer words using annotation, shapes and sketches, so that your ideas become reality faster.

enter image description here

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    He could also just use Preview.app to add some of these things too (not as complete as Paint.NET, but well...) – Alejandro Iván Aug 12 '15 at 13:53
  • Does it have pixel editing capabilities? – Asadefa Jan 16 at 17:27

You can use builtin Preview.app for adding arrows, shapes, text, magnifying glass etc. It's not as lightweight as Skitch mentioned by @jherran, but does the job You need.

enter image description here

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    Nice use of Preview to create an image demonstrating Preview. – Robin Whittleton Dec 19 '14 at 8:52
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    @Robin We need to go deeper ;) – Mateusz Szlosek Dec 19 '14 at 8:53
  • The moment I select the shape, Preview annoyingly insert a default shape in the middle of the screen and then I have to resize and move the shape. This is counter-intuitive compared to other image editing programs - I drag and drop to create the shape. Also, I can't delete the shape I wrongly created! – ericn Feb 27 '15 at 6:21
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    @eric You can delete the shapes. Select them and hit Backspace (). – Mateusz Szlosek Feb 27 '15 at 8:01
  • On Preview you can't even do File > New... I want to create a blank canvas to paste and arrange screenshots and I just can't. – dialex Dec 29 '16 at 13:42

Pinta is a free, open source drawing/editing program modeled after Paint.NET. Its goal is to provide users with a simple yet powerful way to draw and manipulate images on Linux, Mac, and Windows.


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  • Thanks for the tip about Pinta! It's looking very promising, is it in active development? Still missing a few primary features important for me, e.g. arrows. I couldn't paste image selection copied from Preview - was getting an error that no image was detected in the clipboard. Will look again at it after a while. – user1249170 Dec 22 '14 at 21:21
  • you may want to look at the versión 1.5 available here :github.com/PintaProject/Pinta/releases/tag/1.5 – Carlos Dec 22 '14 at 23:19
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    FYI: Pinta requires Mono for OS X. – z80crew May 17 '16 at 16:11
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    Pinta is one of the buggiest pieces of software I've ever used, and it hasn't been updated in years. I strongly recommend avoiding this garbage. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Nov 29 '17 at 16:00
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    Pinta should be used as "HOW TO BUILD A BUGGED APP" example in universities. I've seen even bugged apps, but they were made by babies and monkeys. – Christian Jun 29 '18 at 20:11

Preview is quite lightweight, in terms of start up time. Plus, in OS X 10.10 Yosemite, you can use the markup that are part of Preview.app from within Mail.app (as soon as you have the Markup extension enabled (see System Preferences > Extensions > Actions).

Depending on the way you want to create your snapshots (i.e., for instance, including menus and the mouse), you might want to consider Grab.app.

If the normal screenshot options, or those available through Grab.app are not good enough, then using Skitch might be more your thing.

One final recommendation: if you use Google Drive instead of Dropbox (but they are working on Dropbox integration, too), Marqueed (https://www.marqueed.com) is an online tool for image annotation.

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Gimp is a nice alternative. While it is a bit more complicated it can do a ton more

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    GIMP is actually a massive pain in the ass. They're looking for a Paint.NET alternative, and that is a very, very simple program. – Almo Dec 19 '14 at 0:53
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    I know I used to use it before getting a Mac and switching to gimp. It does have a learning curve but you can do some neat things. It can do things paint.net can do thus making it an alternative. – Big_Mac Dec 19 '14 at 0:54
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    "Alternative" implies "similar". GIMP is nothing like Paint.NET. – Almo Dec 19 '14 at 0:55
  • I'd also recommend GIMP. You'll learn a powerful application which you can then use everywhere - Windows / OSX / Linux. I have switched from Paint.NET to GIMP myself and didn't regret, especially for portability reasons. – Anil Feb 19 '16 at 20:34
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    How difficult is drawing a straight line in gimp? I am trying from last 30 minutes. Waste of time. – chikak Nov 22 '16 at 15:50

You could try Patina, which is free in the Mac App Store. It's very polished and has high ratings.

Improved answer:

  • Patina has a very simple interface that makes the learning curve very short.

  • Patina gives the user a lot of control by allowing the user to turn on and off certain features, such as anti-aliasing and interpolation (for the latter one, not yet at the time of writing this but very soon and most likely already by the time most people are reading this post).

  • Other features include continuous object rotation (not limited to 45 or 90 degrees), transparent image saving, a slider for controlling tool width thickness, and alpha blending of colors.

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    It would be nice if you added some details about the similarities and differences, and generally why to use it. High Ratings and Polished are opinion-based, rather than factually based – TheBro21 Jan 7 '16 at 18:42
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    Patina is the best paint.net alternative I've seen. Thanks for this. – miguel Jan 21 '16 at 0:38
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    Patina is a really great paint.net alternative. While it isn't free any longer, the price is extremely low. – z80crew May 17 '16 at 18:00

You can use TechSmith Snagit:

  • non-free
  • Mac OS X / Windows
  • Provide many kinds of annotations for screenshots:

enter image description here

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Although expensive, Napkin is purpose built for these tasks.

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