How Do I Pixelate an Image Using Microsoft Paint?

Image Credit: Georgijevic/iStock/GettyImages

In mid-2017, Microsoft announced that Paint would become a "deprecated feature" of Windows. It may not be supported moving forward, and it may not be included with new computers that ship with Windows. Microsoft favors Paint 3D instead, but that won't discourage people who've been using Paint since its debut in 1985. Get pixelating in Paint with a few simple drags of your mouse.

Pixelate Your Photo

Microsoft Paint isn't Adobe Photoshop CC, so you won't find any fancy pixelate filter. If you want to pixelate an image, all you have to do is resize it a few times.

Select "File" and then "Open" to bring your image of choice into Paint. Choose the "Select" tool from the toolbar and click and drag to select your photo, placing a dotted border around it. Drag the anchor dot in any corner of the photo to expand its size. In addition to getting larger, you'll notice that the image also takes on a grainy, pixelated quality.

Pixelate Even Harder

Whether you're going for a glitchy retro aesthetic or want your image to look like a censored picture, maybe you want a little (or a lot) more pixelation out of Paint. Don't worry, this vintage software has you covered.

To get an even more pixelated image, resize your pixelated photo to make it smaller by dragging the selection inward and then make it bigger once again. Each time you repeat this process, the image becomes more and more pixelated. Want some super chunky pixels? Make the image as tiny as you can before resizing it to go ultra-pixelated.

Don't fret about losing your original photo, as clicking the "Undo" button fully restores your photo to its original state, so feel free to experiment. When you're done, click "File" and "Save" (or "Save As" to preserve the original).

Why This Works

This nifty Paint trick almost seems too easy, but how exactly does the app pixelate photos?

It all has to do with image resolution. Digital raster images, like virtually any photo on the internet or your computer, are composed of tons of tiny colored squares called pixels. High-resolution images have more pixels per inch (PPI) than low-res images.

When you shrink the image in Paint, you reduce the number of pixels per inch in the picture. When you expand it again, Paint is using the image data from the small image and blowing it up to a larger size. The program can't add pixels to a low-resolution image, so you're getting fewer pixels per inch in a large space, making for big, chunky pixels.

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