How to Draw on the Desktop on Windows 10 & 11


There are many third-party apps with which you can annotate screenshots. However, there are far fewer annotation tools that enable users to draw directly on the Windows desktop.

Epic Pen and gInk are two apps that enable you to seamlessly scribble on the Windows desktop and software as you would on a drawing board. This is how you can draw on the Windows 10 and 11 desktop with those apps.

How to Draw on the Windows Desktop With Epic Pen

Epic Pen is freemium software with limited functionality. The free version enables you to scribble on the screen in Windows 11/10, 8, and 7 with its 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:

  1. Open the Epic Pen website.
  2. Click the Download For Free button to scroll down the homepage.
  3. Select the Download Epic Pen option for the free version.
  4. Find and double-click the Epic Pen Setup v3.11.44.exe file in whatever folder your browser usually downloads to.
  5. Select English (or another preferred language) on the drop-down menu and click OK.
  6. Deselect the Start Epic Pen on Windows login setting if you prefer the software not to be included within the startup, and click the installer’s Next option.
    The Install button for Epic Pen

  7. Select I don’t want to use Epic Pen Pro right now on the activation window to utilize the software without trial features. You can still activate the trial features later.
    The I don't want to use Epic Pen Pro right now option

  8. Then you can select an Enable Epic Pen Pro features for free option to permanently unlock a Pro feature by opting into the Brightdata scheme for sharing your PC’s resources. You can opt into that scheme later if you wish, but to try out the basic version first click I don’t want to enable free Epic Pen Pro features right now.
    The Brightdata scheme option for enabling Epic Pen Pro features

  9. Select Finish (with the Launch checkbox enabled) to start Epic Pen.

Now you can get scribbling on the Windows desktop.

How to Use Epic Pen to Draw on Your Desktop

Click the pen button on Epic Pen’s drawing toolbar. To change the pen width, click pen size and select smaller or larger options. You can select one of four colors on the toolbar’s palette. Hold down the left mouse button and move the cursor around to draw on your desktop.

The pen button in Epic Pen

Epic Pen has a transparent highlighter you can use for highlighting on-screen text and details. To access that tool, click the pen button and select highlighter. Or you can press the Ctrl + Shift + F4 hotkey to use it.

The highlighter in Epic Pen

To eradicate pen strokes and highlights, click the eraser button. Then you can click on pen strokes and highlights to erase them. You can also clear all drawings from the screen by selecting the clear screen option.

Epic Pen’s camera option enables you to save your drawings and annotations by taking screenshots within Windows. Click the take screenshot button to activate the screen-capture utility. Then drag the rectangle over the area of the desktop to capture, and click either the save or copy to clipboard option.

Epic Pen has an arrow and shapes you can activate on a limited-time trial basis. Click the line option to select arrow, rectangle, or ellipse. Then select the Start free trial button.

Start free trial option

You can also permanently activate some of the features in Epic Pen Pro without splashing out for the upgrade by opting into its scheme. To do so, click Menu > Settings. Select the Enable the Text tool or Enable the Whiteboard tool option to activate one of those features and share device resources.

The options for enabling Epic Pen Pro features

How to Draw on the Windows Desktop With gInk

The gInk app is an open-source alternative to Epic Pen you can utilize for on-screen annotations in Windows 11/10 much the same. This is also a portable app for which no installation is needed. However, you’ll still need to download and extract the gInk archive like this:

  1. Open the gInk page on Softpedia.
  2. Press the Download button to bring up a couple of location options. Pick the one closest to your location and download the file.
  3. Next, you’ll need to extract gInk’s ZIP file. Follow the guidelines in our article about how to unzip files on Windows to extract the ZIP archive.
    The Extract Compressed tool

  4. Double-click gInk.exe inside the extracted gInk folder to launch the desktop drawing tool.

Now you can try out the gInk on-screen drawing (or annotation) tool in Windows. Click the Pen 1 option, and scribble on the desktop by holding the left mouse button and moving the cursor. You can also select three other pen options for different colors.

The qInk toolbar

The fifth pen is a transparent highlighter option. Click Pen 5 to activate the tool’s highlighter. You can utilize this tool for highlighting things in presentations.

You can adjust the drawing tool’s widths by selecting Pen width. Drag the slider along the bar to increase or decrease the width of your pen.

The pen width bar

The gInk toolbar includes a screenshot tool you can use for taking snapshots of what you’ve drawn on the desktop. Click the Snapshot (camera) button on the app’s toolbar to activate it. Drag the rectangle around an area to include in the captured output to take the picture. That snapshot will automatically save to a folder path specified within gInk’s General tab.

The gInk app includes five pens on its toolbar by default, but you can add four more. To do so, you’ll need to close gInk’s toolbar first by clicking its Exit drawing option. Then right-click the gInk system tray icon and select Options.

Click the Pens tab on the Options window, and select the checkboxes for additional pens. You can also configure the pens’ colors and widths from that tab by clicking the palette boxes and Width drop-down menus for them.

The Pens tab in qInk

You can also set custom hotkeys for accessing the pens. Click the Hotkeys tab to view gInk’s default keyboard shortcuts. Then click inside one of the Pen boxes and press an alternative hotkey to set one.

Get Scribbling on Your Windows Desktop With These Apps

Epic Pen and gInk are intuitive and straightforward to utilize apps with drawing tools that enable you to annotate what’s on your desktop for illustrative purposes. They’re great for showing information on Windows PCs presenting a screencast, projection, or video conference, and they can even capture annotated screenshots.


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