MacPaint is a pioneering graphics-editing software developed by Apple Computer, Inc. for its original Macintosh personal computer launched in 1984. Created by Bill Atkinson and included with the purchase of a Macintosh, it offered users the ability to create and edit black-and-white bitmap images using various drawing tools. While MacPaint was a significant milestone in digital art and graphic design, it was later discontinued in 1998.

Key Takeaways

  1. MacPaint was a pioneering graphics application developed by Apple Computer, released in 1984 with the original Macintosh, and played a significant role in popularizing the graphical user interface.
  2. Designed by Bill Atkinson and developed by Apple, MacPaint introduced several innovative features, such as the Lasso tool for selecting irregular shapes and the ability to edit images seamlessly in black and white at a resolution of 72 DPI.
  3. Even though MacPaint was eventually discontinued in 1991, it heavily influenced the future of digital graphic design and image editing applications, paving the way for popular software like Adobe Photoshop and other graphic design tools.


MacPaint, released in 1984, is a significant technology in the history of personal computing as it was one of the first graphics software applications developed for the Apple Macintosh.

It enabled users to create, edit, and save bitmap images, as well as integrate graphics with textual content, fostering widespread interest in digital illustration and design.

MacPaint’s user-friendly and intuitive interface, featuring click-and-drag functionality and a variety of built-in tools, revolutionized the way people interacted with computers and contributed significantly to the adoption of graphical user interfaces (GUIs). Its groundbreaking features paved the way for modern graphics applications, making it a crucial milestone in the evolution of computer-assisted graphic design.


MacPaint, originally developed by Apple Computer, facilitated a creative outlet for users who sought to produce expressive digital artwork and graphics. The application served as a pioneering platform that transformed the computer from a purely text-based device into a canvas for artistic ingenuity.

Whether an amateur or a professional, MacPaint’s intuitive interface allowed anyone to draw, paint, and edit images with remarkable ease. The software was particularly suited to creating illustrations, logos, and custom graphic designs, proving itself as an invaluable tool for graphic designers and visual artists.

Moreover, the introduction of MacPaint revolutionized the world of computing in the 1980s, as it came bundled with the first Macintosh computer. With its monochrome bitmap-based functionality, MacPaint empowered users to generate images composed of pixels, resulting in tangible graphics that could be printed and shared.

Users could select from a library of painting tools, like brushes, shapes, and various patterns, infusing their digital work with an incredible level of detail and depth. Ultimately, MacPaint provided users with a unique medium for achieving diverse visual goals, contributing to the captivating world of digital artistry.

Examples of MacPaint

MacPaint was an early graphics and painting software developed by Apple Inc. for its Macintosh computers, released in

Here are three real-world examples of the technology term MacPaint:

Graphic design and digital art creation: MacPaint was used by early graphic designers to create digital art, logos, and other visual designs. This easy-to-use software allowed users with little to no experience in graphic design to explore their creativity and produce engaging visual content.

Educational uses: MacPaint was also popular within educational institutions as a tool for teaching students about computer graphics and design principles. Teachers would use the software to introduce students to the concepts of digital drawing, pixel manipulation, and image editing, providing them with a fundamental understanding of computer-based creative activities.

Image editing for print and publication: MacPaint offered the ability to edit graphics for print and publication purposes. Journalists, authors, and other professionals used the software to enhance their visual content, such as images for newspaper articles or photographs for books. By utilizing MacPaint, they could edit images, add illustrations, and improve the overall visual presentation of their work.

MacPaint FAQ

What is MacPaint?

MacPaint is a raster-based graphics editing software developed by Apple Inc., first released in January 1984. It was one of the first applications available on the original Macintosh computer and played a significant role in popularizing graphical user interfaces.

What file format does MacPaint use?

MacPaint files use the .MAC file format, which is a proprietary format designed specifically for this software. MacPaint files typically contain both image data and metadata, such as the canvas dimensions and color palettes.

Can I still use MacPaint on modern macOS systems?

MacPaint was originally designed for classic Mac OS systems and is not natively compatible with modern macOS systems. However, there are several options for running MacPaint on modern systems, such as using emulators like Mini vMac or Basilisk II, or you can try finding and installing a compatible version of the software for newer systems.

What are some alternatives to MacPaint for macOS users?

There are many alternative graphics editing applications available for macOS users, depending on the desired features and complexity. Some popular alternatives include Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, Affinity Photo, and Pixelmator. For users looking for a simple and lightweight graphics editor, Paintbrush is a popular macOS choice that resembles the classic MacPaint interface.

Was MacPaint truly revolutionary in its time?

Yes, MacPaint was groundbreaking when it was first released due to its intuitive interface and ease-of-use. It enabled users to create complex images and illustrations without needing advanced technical knowledge. The popularity of MacPaint helped pave the way for the graphical user interface revolution and set the stage for future graphics editing software.

Related Technology Terms

  • Raster Graphics
  • Bitmap Image Editor
  • Macintosh Classic
  • Apple Computer
  • Bill Atkinson

Sources for More Information

  • Apple Inc. – As the creator of MacPaint, Apple’s official website provides information on their products and the company’s history.
  • Wikipedia – The MacPaint article on Wikipedia offers detailed information on its history, features, and impact on digital art.
  • Computer History Museum – The Computer History Museum has exhibits and information about important developments in computer history, including MacPaint.
  • Macworld – Macworld is a popular online publication that focuses on Apple products and related software, including information about MacPaint.

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