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Macintosh MacPaint 1

Box of MacPaint 1.0

Claris MacPaint 2

Box of MacPaint 2.0 from Claris

MacPaint is a bitmap-based image editing program that was produced by Apple Computer to be bundled with their first Macintosh 128K system. After being "ignored" for some time due to developer backlash, Apple eventually formed Claris to market updated versions of MacPaint.


Despite a short lifespan, MacPaint was many people's first GUI-based bitmap editing experience, and as such became the seminal work by which similar efforts were measured. The original Mac bundle also included MacWrite, a similarly easy-to-use word processor, and pictures from MacPaint could be placed inside MacWrite documents in a few keystrokes. The pair literally defined user expectations of a GUI-based computer. Also part of the earlier set of applications was MacDraw.

Since the original Macintosh had only a black-and-white monitor, MacPaint only edited monochrome bitmaps with a fixed size of 576 x 720 pixels - the size of the ImageWriter's standard 8 x 10 inch sheet of paper at 72 DPI. Color was not supported at all.

Xerox PARC researcher and Apple Fellow Alan Kay made a seminal home videotape showing his one year-old daughter starting a Macintosh 128K computer, inserting a floppy disk containing MacPaint, starting the program, and proceeding to paint with it. MacPaint, in part, represented a paradigm shift where computing had become a useful (and even entertaining) part of ordinary people's lives.


MacPaint 2.0's user interface featured tear-off menu palettes.

The user interface of MacPaint 1.0 limited it to full-screen mode fixed at the original compact Mac screen size of 512 x 342 (which would hide the Desktop). MacPaint 2.0 updated this with tear-off menus which could become floating palettes and fully supported the Desktop and MultiFinder.

MacPaint was superseded by ClarisWorks, which integrated its paint functionality. The remaining inventory of MacPaint 1.5 and 2.0 was sold by Sun Remarketing as late as 2004.


  • MacPaint, The Mac 512 User Group. Archived 2000-09-03.

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