There are many third-party apps that you can use to annotate screenshots. However, there are far fewer annotation tools that allow users to draw directly on the Windows desktop.
Epic Pen and gInk are two apps that allow you to seamlessly doodle on your Windows desktop and software as you would on a drawing board. Here’s how to draw on your Windows 10 and 11 desktop with these apps.
How to Draw on Windows Desktop with Epic Pen
Epic Pen is freemium software with limited functionality. The free version allows you to write on the screen in Windows 11/10, 8 and 7 with the pen and highlighter. However, tools for adding shapes, straight lines, and text are only available in Epic Pen Pro. You can download and install the basic Epic Pen software like this:
- Open the Epic Pen website.
- click on Download for free button to scroll down the homepage.
- Select Download epic pen alternative for the free version.
- Find and double-click Epic Pen Setup v3.11.44.exe file in which folder your browser usually downloads to.
- Select English (or another preferred language) on the drop-down menu and click OK.
- Uncheck the box Launch Epic Pen on Windows login setting if you prefer not to include the software at startup and click Installer Next option.
- Select I don’t want to use the Epic Pen Pro right now on the activation window to use the software without trial features. You can still activate the trial features later.
- Then you can choose one Activate Epic Pen Pro features for free the ability to permanently unlock a Pro feature by choosing the Brightdata scheme to share your PC’s resources. You can choose that scheme later if you wish, but to try the basic version, click first I don’t want to enable free Epic Pen Pro features right now.
- Select Finish (with Launch checkbox enabled) to launch Epic Pen.
Now you can get scribbles on your Windows desktop.
How to use the Epic Pen to draw on your desktop
click on pen button on the Epic Pen drawing toolbar. Click to change the pen width pen size and select smaller or larger options. You can choose one of four colors on the toolbar’s palette. Hold down left mouse button and move the cursor around to draw on the desktop.
Epic Pen has a transparent marker pen that you can use to highlight text and details on the screen. To access that tool, click on pen button and select highlighter. Or you can press Ctrl + Shift + F4 hotkey to use it.
To remove pen strokes and highlights, click eraser button. Then you can click on the pen strokes and selections to delete them. You can also remove all drawings from the screen by selecting clear screen option.
Epic Pen’s camera option allows you to save your drawings and annotations by taking screenshots in Windows. click on take screenshot to activate the screen recording tool. Then drag the rectangle over the area of the desktop to capture and click either store or copy to clipboard option.
Epic Pen has an arrow and shapes you can activate on a time-limited trial basis. click on line the option to select arrow, rectangle or ellipse. Then choose Start your free trial button.
You can also permanently enable some of the features of Epic Pen Pro without shelling out for the upgrade by opting for its brightdata.com plan. To do so, click Menu > Settings. Select Activate the text tool or Activate the whiteboard tool the option to enable one of these features and share device resources.
How to draw on the Windows desktop with gInk
The GInk app is an open source alternative to Epic Pen that you can use for on-screen annotations in Windows 11/10 in much the same way. This is also a portable app that no installation is required. However, you still need to download and extract the gInk archive like this:
- Open the gInk page on Softpedia.
- Press download to bring up a couple of placement options. Select the one closest to your location and download the file.
- Next, you need to extract gInk’s ZIP file. Follow the guidelines in our article on how to extract files on Windows to extract the ZIP archive.
- Double click gInk.exe inside the extracted gInk folder to launch the drawing tool on the desktop.
Now you can try out the gInk drawing tool (or annotations) on the screen in Windows. click on Pen 1 option, and scribble on the desktop by holding down left mouse button and move the cursor. You can also choose three other pen options for different colors.
The fifth pen is a transparent marker pen option. Click Pen 5 to activate the tool’s highlighter. You can use this tool to highlight things in presentations.
You can adjust the drawing tool widths by selecting Pen width. Drag the slider along the line to increase or decrease the width of the pen.
The GInk toolbar contains a screenshot tool that you can use to take snapshots of what you’ve drawn on the desktop. click on Snapshot (camera) button on the app’s toolbar to activate it. Drag the rectangle around an area to be included in the captured result to capture the image. That snapshot is automatically saved in a folder path specified in gInk’s General the tab.
The GInk app includes five pens on the toolbar by default, but you can add four more. To do so, you must first close gInk’s toolbar by clicking on it Exit drawing option. Then right click on the gInk icon in the system tray and select Alternatives.
click on pens tab on Alternatives window and select the checkboxes for multiple pens. You can also configure the pen colors and widths from that tab by clicking the palette boxes and Width drop down menus for them.
You can also set custom keyboard shortcuts to access the pens. click on Hotkeys tab to display gInk’s default keyboard shortcuts. Then click inside one of Pen boxes and press an alternate hotkey to enter one.
Get scribbling on your Windows desktop with these apps
Epic Pen and gInk are intuitive and easy-to-use apps with drawing tools that let you annotate what’s on your desktop for illustrative purposes. They’re great for displaying information on Windows PCs presenting a screencast, projection or video conference, and they can even take annotated screenshots.