Invert Colours in MS Paint

You want to use MS Paint to invert the colors in a picture. Beginning with MS Paint 6.1 (Windows 7), Microsoft changed the way that users must invert colors. It's still easy to do, but it is not always immediately obvious. For a quick color invert, press Ctrl+Shift+I. Read on to learn how to invert colors in both the new and old versions of the program!


Windows 7 and Later

  1. Be aware that the Invert Colors tool has changed. Don’t look for the Invert Colors tool on the top toolbar, as you might have in Windows Vista or earlier. Beginning with MS Paint 6.1, you can only invert colors by selecting and right-clicking the image. This means that if you are running Windows 7, 8, or 10, then this new iteration of Paint will be pre-installed.[1] This might be confusing if you've spent years using the top toolbar to tweak your colors – but never fear! The new process is different, but it is still very simple.
    • The Invert Colors tool is useful if you want to simply swap around the existing colors on a logo or image, rather than replace the entire color.
  2. Select the image. If you want to invert the colors in the entire image, you'll need to select the image as a whole. You can corral the image with the Select tool, or you can choose "Select all" from the Select Options.[2]
    • If you only want to invert the colors in part of the image: simply select the piece of the image that you’d like to invert.
  3. Invert the image. First, right-click on the image with your mouse. Then, scroll down to the “Invert color” option at the bottom of the drop-down menu. Click "Invert color." The section of the image you selected should immediately invert.[3]
    • For a quick color inversion, press the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+I.

Windows Vista and Earlier

  1. Open your image in MS Paint. You can do this by from inside or outside Paint.
    • Inside Paint: Open MS Paint by clicking the Desktop icon or locating it in Programs. Once Paint is open, click "File" and then "Open." Find and select the image that you want to invert. Then, press Enter or click "Open."[4]
    • Outside Paint: Find the file that you want to invert. Right-click on the file, and select "Open with" MS Paint. The file should open in MS Paint.
  2. Click on "Image" at the top and then "Invert colors." This will immediately invert the colors. The colors in the inverted image are the scientific complements of the colors in the original. A yellow ball will appear blue (not purple, the traditional complement) in the inverted version.[5]
    • For a quick invert, simply press Ctrl+I. Remember: this only applies to Windows Vista and earlier!
  3. Save the image. Click "File," and then "Save as..." Choose a memorable file name for it, and pick the file type as needed. Be sure to save it somewhere you can find it later. Then click "Save" to confirm.


  • You can use the Select tool, or the free-form select tool to select a specific area of your picture to invert.
  • Instead of opening the image in Paint you can find it in "My Document" or wherever you have saved it, then right-click and select "open with"... "Paint".
  • Open a file quickly by pressing Ctrl+O on your keyboard.
  • "BMP, "PNG", "JPG", and "GIF" are common file formats. For most situations, PNG will yield the smallest file size without losing quality. Choose JPG if the image being saved is a photograph, though note that Paint's implementation of the jpeg standard results in lossy images. If you are posting these images on a website, you may want to run your images through a better image manipulation program to minimize file size.
  • To see an afterimage, make your inverted image quite large and stare at the center for thirty seconds. Then, quickly turn to a blank wall. You should see your image in its original colors. Bear in mind that this works best with photos and larger images.
  • Pressing Ctrl+I (and for Windows 7 or later, Ctrl+Shift+I) on your keyboard will execute the same effect as selecting the option from the menu.
  • Pressing Ctrl+Z will undo up to 3 previous actions.
  • Look on the Internet for interesting images to play with. Remember that many things on the Internet are copyrighted. In theory, you can play with any image as long as you don't try to sell it, distribute it, or claim it as your own work.
  • The same effect can be achieved with many other programs. The steps may be slightly different, but the effect is the same.
  • If you use the free-form select tool instead of the regular select tool, you'll need to click and drag the selection a little bit, then put it back in its original location before you can invert it. Otherwise, you'll invert a rectangle instead of the shape you drew.


  • If you're having trouble finding the "MS Paint" program on your computer then you may not have it, this will likely be the case if you are not on a windows computer/laptop. However, there are many other graphics programs which are similar and often better. Some are free and some are not. Ask around or search the web.
  • In the Windows 7 version, you will need to Right-Click a selected image to invert colors.
  • If you click "Save" instead of "Save as..." then you will be saving over your old image. Don't do this if you want to keep the original image as well as your edited one.
  • If you hold down CTRL + I (or CTRL + SHIFT + I) the colors will flash rapidly. Be careful: this might give you a headache!

Things You'll Need

  • An image you want to edit
  • Microsoft (MS) Paint

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Sources and Citations