What does "NPS" stand for?

"NPS" stands for "Nookkin's Paint Shop" which was the original name of the program. It was later renamed to "NPS" for brevity. The official name of the program is "NPS Image Editor", though it's acceptable to refer to it as "NPS" as long as there is no ambiguity with other entities such as the National Park Service to which NPS Image Editor has no relation.

Why did you make it?

For fun, mostly. I started working on the program when I was 13 and first learning how to write code. My continued work on NPS Image Editor is what led me to pursue a computer science degree (and then kept me sane throughout college programming classes). At this point I kept developing the image editor as a way to set myself apart from other graduates, and then simply because it was quite a lot of fun.

Do you use it yourself?

Yes. I use it for screenshot editing, randomly painting for fun, and of course I heavily use the color picker when working on websites.

Why should I use NPS instead of Microsoft Paint?

NPS Image Editor provides you with the familiar simplicity of Microsoft Paint while offering far more functionality, including support for transparency, filters, custom brush shapes, and more. It's optimized for pixel art and simple image edits.

If you're editing screenshots, for example, you can easily blur or block out confidential data in a professional manner (instead of scribbling it out with a pencil), while retaining the ease of use of keyed selection mode (aka MS Paint's "transparency"). And yes, you can still resize the whole image by dragging the corners!

Why should I use NPS instead of Photoshop, GIMP, Paint.NET, or other image editors?

These programs provide a powerful set of features but lack the Microsoft Paint-like simplicity when it comes to pixel art and screenshot editing. The most obvious difference is how they handle resizing an image (requiring the use of a dialog vs. dragging the corners) and selection (treating it as part of the active layer vs. needing separate tools to create and move it).

I love the color picker but have no use for yet another image editor. Is there any way to just install the color picker?

You can access the color picker directly from the Start menu without opening the image editor. There is unfortunately no way to truly separate the two, but the footprint is so small (under 20 MB) that it shouldn't be an issue on modern systems.

What are the system requirements?

NPS Image Editor requires a Windows PC running Windows 10 or greater. It relies on the .NET Desktop Runtime 8 and WebView2 Runtime which your computer likely already has, and the installer will take care of installing them for you if they're missing.

Is ARM supported?

Yes! As of NPS Image Editor 4.1, ARM64 on Windows 11 is supported and NPS Image Editor will run in native ARM64 mode instead of relying on x86 emulation.

Note that Windows 10 on ARM is not officially supported – simply because I do not have the hardware to test it. However it should still run.

What about Windows 7?

Technically you can install the .NET Desktop Runtime 8 and WebView2 Runtime on Windows 7 SP1, and you are welcome to try. However, the experience is not ideal and therefore these older versions of Windows aren't officially supported. At some point, Microsoft might break something and NPS might stop running.

But all is not lost! The legacy version supports Windows 98 through 8. See the legacy page for more details.

Do I really need the WebView2 Runtime?

Yes. Various parts of NPS Image Editor's UI are rendered using modern web technologies, including the Welcome screen, Filter Gallery, and various other dialogs. This will continue to increase as NPS Image Editor is developed to be more cross-platform.

If you don't install the WebView2 Runtime, NPS Image Editor will complain but will still allow you to run the program – you just might not be able to complete all of your desired workflows. Note that the Runtime already comes preinstalled on Windows 11.

Will there be a Mac or Linux version?

Eventually! NPS Codename Amethyst will be a cross-platform and mobile-friendly version of NPS Image Editor. See more details on the Roadmap page.

I had originally been planning to include Mac and Linux as supported platforms via the Mono framework, but I eventually decided against it due to complexity – it has been hard enough to finish NPS for Windows as it is. Additionally, the results of using Mono were less than satisfactory on those platforms.

What do the version numbers and channels mean? Why did the version number jump by several numbers?

NPS Image Editor uses a loose interpretation of semantic versioning for its version numbers. The version number (e.g. 3.4.1 build 12345) is split up into 4 components:

  • Major: This represents a major codebase change that isn't compatible with the previous one. For example NPS 3.x was rewritten from the ground up in another language.
  • Minor: This represents a feature update. For example NPS 3.2 added support for layers and 3.3 added screen clipping.
  • Revision: This represents a bug fix that makes minimal changes to features. For example NPS 3.2.1 fixed various bugs in 3.2.0 but did not add any significant or noticeable features. (Sometimes there are internal feature improvements such as supporting a new form of extension.)
  • Build: This is a monotonically increasing number that increases every time NPS.exe is built. It's primarily used for distinguishing between copies of EXEs with the same version while I'm testing.

The channel represents the quality of the release. A Release build is going to be stable, a Beta is testing out new functionality, and a Nightly is pretty much untested bleeding-edge functionality that isn't usable for daily use. You can choose this in Update Settings so that, for example, you can receive Nightly builds as soon as they're available for a test machine but avoid them for a production machine.

So the version number comes first, then depending on the state of the code a channel is assigned. This is why the first Beta release might start with a revision number greater than 0, or might jump over a few numbers, because Nightly interim builds exist.

What are "Standalone" releases?

A "standalone" release is identical to the normal NPS release but is configured to run from a single folder without installation. This allows you to run NPS Image Editor from a flash drive, or from your desktop if you do not have administrator privileges. "Uninstallation" is as simple as deleting the folder.

The main disadvantages of running standalone releases are complexity of getting it running and keeping it updated. For example, you will need to manually download an entire package and manually update the files that changed (or migrate your settings). Windows SmartScreen Filter also doesn't seem to like it when you run extensions from a file downloaded off the internet. Thus the standalone install is not recommended for most users unless you know exactly what you're doing.

Can I run it "portably" without the .NET Desktop Runtime?

The Standalone version can be run on systems without the .NET Desktop Runtime by downloading the appropriate Standalone Runtime package for your version. While this will allow you to run standalone off a flash drive, this is not the recommended approach if you are running on a single machine – the Desktop Runtime is required by many other programs, and if it's already installed, you will just be wasting space with the extra runtime files.

Why are you offering NPS for free? Will this always be the case?

I believe that some of the best things in life are free – software included. That being said, my main goal with NPS is to provide a high-quality piece of software for as many users as possible, and making it free makes achieving that goal easier. Another advantage of keeping the software free is simplicity: I don't need to worry about piracy, license enforcement, or extra installer complexity.

I plan to keep NPS Image Editor a free piece of software throughout its lifetime. At most, I may offer paid support or enhancements at some nebulous point in the future, but the main application will always remain free.

Is NPS ad-supported?

No – ads detract from the value and elegance of an application. As previously stated, my goal with NPS Image Editor is to have fun while making a quality product, not make money.

Does the installer come packed with adware?

No, for the same reason. The installer contains only the files necessary for the operation of NPS Image Editor.

I feel bad not paying – can I donate?

Yes, and your donation will certainly be appreciated! Working on NPS costs me time (and in some cases money), so donations will help offset these costs. You can go here to make a secure donation via PayPal. Keep in mind that donations are 100% voluntary and will not give you any additional functionality.

Where can I get the source code?

At this point, NPS Image Editor is proprietary (but free) software and the source code is not available. I do plan on eventually releasing the source code but don't have a specific timeframe.

How can I help you with NPS?

  • Recommend the software to others. Get the name "NPS Image Editor" out there. (Just don't spam others, please.)
  • Write a review of NPS on your blog or in a video. Be sure to send me a link when you're done!
  • Test the software and file meaningful bug reports.
  • Provide constructive criticism and suggest features you would like to see. That's how future versions of NPS are made better.
  • Use NPS as part of your daily life. It's not just an image editor. Several people I know find the standalone NPS color picker to be very useful when writing HTML pages, for example, even if they do not use NPS itself for image editing.

Can I redistribute NPS Image Editor?

You may distribute the NPS installer within your circle of friends, family, and coworkers. Likewise, you are encouraged to link to either the NPS Image Editor website or official Facebook page to spread the word!

You may not host the NPS installer on a publicly-accessible website or include it on software anthologies without my explicit permission. It goes without saying that you may not make money from distributing NPS Image Editor.

Does NPS Image Editor support layers?

Yes, as of version 3.2! See the blog post for more details.

What is a .npsd file?

NPSD is NPS Image Editor's format for storing multi-layer documents. See the NPSD file format specification if you are interested in writing software that can read and write to it.

Can NPS Image Editor save to .psd, .xcf, or other multi-layer formats?

Not yet, unfortunately. Saving to those formats requires supporting all of their features.

Please see the Roadmap for more details about planned, upcoming features.

Why is the installer blocked as an unrecognized program?

NPS Image Editor is not signed because code-signing certificates cost significant amounts of money (at least $100 per year), and since I make no money from NPS, there is currently no incentive for me to pay. I will sign the installer and all related executables once I get a code-signing certificate for a paid application or when NPS gains enough popularity to justify the investment. For now, you will need to allow the unsigned program to run; scan it with your anti-virus tool if you don't trust it.


1 The last installer of NPS Image Editor to support Windows 98 is beta 9611 and the last build to support Windows XP is version 3.2.1 build 16468. Switch to NPS Image Editor for Legacy Systems instead which provides most of the features of the current release but compiled for older Windows versions.