How to Create Editable Text in Paint.NET

Woman working at her photo desk
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Paint.NET is a completely free raster image editor for Windows computers. It was originally designed to offer a bit more power than Microsoft Paint, the image editor included in the Windows operating system. The application has grown to become a much more powerful piece of kit and it's favored by many who want a user-friendly way to work creatively with their photos.

Although it isn't the most powerful image editor available, it offers a sufficiently broad range of tools without becoming overpowering. A few basic omissions from the feature set of Paint.NET slightly undermine the package as a whole, and one of these is the inability to edit text after it has been added to an image.

Thanks to the hard work and generosity of Simon Brown, you can download a free plugin from his site that allows you to add editable text in Paint.NET. It's now part of a pack of plugins that offer some other useful functionality to Paint.NET, so you'll actually download a number of plugins in a single ZIP package.

Install the Paint.NET Editable Text Plugin

Install the Paint.NET Editable Text Plugin
Ian Pullen

The first step is to install the plugin into your version of Paint.NET. Unlike some other graphics applications, Paint.NET doesn't have features in the user interface to manage plugins, but it isn't rocket science to do this step manually.

You'll find a full explanation of the process with screenshots on the same page where you downloaded the plugin. Following the simple steps will install all of the included plugins in one go.

How to Use the Paint.NET Editable Text Plugin

Using the Paint.NET Editable Text Plugin
Ian Pullen

You can launch Paint.NET after you've installed the plugin.

If you're familiar with the software, you'll notice a new sub-group when you look in the Effects menu. It's called Tools and it contains most of the new features that installing the plugin pack will have added.

To use the editable text plugin, go to Layers > Add New Layer or click the Add New Layer button at the bottom left of the Layers palette. You can add editable text directly to the background layer, but adding a new layer for each section of text keeps things much more flexible.

Now go to Effects > Tools > Editable Text and a new Editable Text dialog will open. Use this dialog box to add and edit your text. Click in the empty input box and type anything you want.

The bar of controls across the top of the dialog allows you to select a different font after you've added some text. You can also change the color of the text and apply other styles. Anyone who has used a basic word processing program will have no trouble understanding how these functions work. Select the OK button when you're happy.

If you want to edit the text later, just click on the text layer in the layers palette to select it and go to Effects > Tools > Editable Text. The dialog box will open again and you can make whatever changes you like.

A word of warning: You may find that the text is no longer editable if you paint on a layer that contains editable text. One way to see this is to use the Paint Bucket tool to fill the area surrounding the text.

When you go to the Editable Text tool again, you'll only have the option to add new text. Avoid doing any painting or drawing on layers that contain editable text to sidestep this problem.

Positioning and Angling Text With the Paint.NET Editable Text Plugin

Positioning and Angling Text with the Paint.NET Editable Text Plugin
Ian Pullen

Paint.NET also provides controls that allow you to position the text on the page and change the angle.

Just select the cross-shaped move icon in the top box and drag it to reposition the text in the document. You'll see that the position of the text moves in real time. It's possible to drag the move icon outside the box and move part or all of the text outside the document. Click anywhere in the box to make the move icon and text visible again.

You can just click, or click and drag to change the angle of the text on the page in the circle control. It's very straightforward, although it's a little counterintuitive because the angle of the text mirrors the angle you've set instead of replicating it. When you're aware of this feature, it doesn't interfere with the usability to any significant degree.

Your Finished Product

Adding Editable Text to Paint.NET
Ian Pullen

If you've followed the instructions in this tutorial, your finished product should look like the image above.