How To Select and Work With Text in Paint.net

Posted by Jamie on July 26, 2018

We all need to edit a picture once in a while, whether it’s adding a caption to a family snapshot or taking the redeye out of your Tinder profile pic. Occasional image editors who need quick and easy editing functionality have found a great tool in Paint.net, a free yet powerful image editing tool. It doesn’t have the power of Photoshop or the expandability of GIMP, but it’s completely free and doesn’t require a college degree in image editing to use.

One of the things that’s a little bit harder to do in Paint.net than in an application like Photoshop is working with text. Using text in images seems to create more problems than it should. That’s what this tutorial is all about. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to select and work with text in Paint.net.

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Select text in Paint.net

To work with text we use the Text tool. It looks like the letter T in the toolbar on the left side of the main screen. You can also select it from the Tool selector underneath the main menu. From here you can add, remove, select or manipulate text as you see fit.

Before adding anything to an image, you’ll want to add a layer to that image. Adding a layer means creating an invisible (for now) image that floats “above” the original image. The final image will combine all the layers. By creating a new layer to work with text on, you won’t be manipulating the underlying image directly, so you won’t inadvertently make changes to the base image. This allows a little more freedom when working with effects. Select Layers and Add layer before adding text, then add all text to the new layer.

To add text select the text tool and click somewhere on an open image. A box will open and a cursor will flash. Select the font and size you require and begin typing.

To remove text, use backspace to delete the text as you see fit. Don’t click outside the text box – you’ll lose the ability to edit the text.

To select text, click on the little square icon in the bottom right of the text window. You can move the text to wherever you like on the active screen.

To manipulate text, add a new layer, add your text and then use adjustments or effects as you need.

There is one significant drawback to working with text in Paint.net. The program is a pixel editor, so as soon as you have finished with your current text selection and have clicked out of the text window, it is written to pixels. That means you can no longer select, move or change that text as text. (You can still edit it as a graphic image.) If you need to make changes after that, you will need to undo or remove the layer and do it all over again.

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Working with text in Paint.net

Despite that shortcoming, there is a lot you can do with text in Paint.net. Here are just a few tools you can use.

Text tool

The text tool is where you select the font, size, style, rendering mode, justification, anti-aliasing, blending mode and selection clipping mode. It is the main part of the UI you will work with when using text. If you’re familiar with text editors, the commands are very similar.

  • Click the small down arrow next to the font to change it. Select from a huge range of defaults or import others. Paint.net works with most Windows fonts but not all custom ones.
  • Click on the small down arrow next to font size to change it.
  • Click the ‘B’ to bold text, ‘I’ for italics ‘U’ to underline and ‘S’ to strikethrough.
  • Select the justification that fits your needs, left, center and right.
  • Anti-aliasing is either on or off. If enabled, your text will appear smooth and slightly larger. If you turn it off, the text will appear sharper and more pixelated.
  • Blending mode is accessible by the down arrow next to the beaker icon. It allows access to a range of modes that will either do something or nothing depending on the other choices you have made.
  • Selection clipping mode has no noticeable effect on text so I have no idea what it does.
  • Finish completes the text for that session and will shift focus from the text window. As mentioned above, this means you will no longer be able to edit the text so don’t click this until you’re ready.

The only thing the text tool does not include is text color. To change the color of any text, you use the color picker in the bottom left of the screen. If you plan on mixing colors, use a different layer for each to keep things manageable, as once you click out of the active box, you’re committed.

The text tool in Paint.net is more than enough for basic needs. The main thing to remember is to make all your changes before clicking out of the text box otherwise you have to begin all over again!

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