Best Free Digital Image Viewer

  Read this article in Spanish


Image viewers belong to a software category where the quantity and quality of free programs makes it difficult to select just one product as a top pick. So, personal convenience will unavoidably appear as the ultimate factor for this review of free applications. And there's also the question of what exactly we mean by an image viewer.

Digital photography has become so widely available that most pictures these days will linger in a memory drive and will never be printed, because we can visualize them on screens. As a consequence, hundreds of tools are developed for the task, ranging from the ones that offer just the most basic handling to others with loads of features nobody will ever use. However, nowadays' average users are likely to demand some additional capabilities apart from the simple viewing and browsing functions.

Thus, many imaging applications overlap categories and we have a perfect example in photo organizers, where a viewer is obviously needed to manage picture collections. Therefore, the key points for this review should be based mainly on the aspects of loading speed, image quality, zooming capabilities, sorting options and other operations not directly related to image editing, tagging or organizing, although this is a definite advantage in most cases like the current Editors' Choice and a few competitors. But no program is perfect and if you need to make certain changes to your photos, you might find yourself using more than one app at the same time to meet specific requirements.

[show-hide toggle]


Rated Products

Zoner Photo Studio Free  

A powerful and excellent program with lots of possibilities for you to take advantage of its many features.

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Limited features)
Nice interface, very customizable, very fast, lots of features, good editor, full Unicode support.
Limited batch processing options, takes over 315MB on disk, interface may seem somewhat bloated.
Read full review...


The most versatile of all viewers to read over 500 types of graphic files and convert any of these to over 70 formats.

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Private/Educational use)
Fast, lots of features, very manageable, many plug-ins.
The batch processing options could be better implemented.
Read full review...


A fast and compact image viewer with lots of features and plugins.

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Private/Educational use)
Fast, lots of features, many plug-ins, less than 2MB on disk.
Simplistic and a bit less manageable than main competitors.
Read full review...

FastStone Image Viewer  

A fast and user-friendly image browser with its superb interface and some useful editing features.

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Private/Educational use)
Very good fullscreen interface, very user-friendly, good functionality, excellent batch processing options, GPS location in Google Earth.
Slower than competitors with larger files.
Read full review...

WildBit Viewer  

A competent image viewer with a full array of editing tools and a super powerful search function.

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Private/Educational use)
Very manageable, excellent editor, geotagging capabilities, full Unicode support.
Slower than the competition in some cases.
Read full review...

Nomacs - Image Lounge  

An open-source and cross-platform image viewer opens very large images easier than competitors.

Our Rating: 
License: Free (Open source)
Fast, opens very large images easier than competitors, frameless view option, several instances can be synched locally or over a LAN, cross-platform.
Quirky zoom, some common functions are assigned to unexpected menus.
Read full review...

Related Products

I've tested a large number of other viewing applications (too many to be mentioned), but none of them made it to the top. Our readers have suggested many of those. When this is the case, I usually post a reply in the comments section with my reasons. Maybe your favorite program has already been discarded here, but feel free to submit any product you think might deserve a try. But please, try it yourself before and tell me what you like about it, instead of just posting a link. We have a lot of good apps here already, maybe too many for a readable article. Sometimes letting ones in and others out feels like splitting hairs. There are many decent ones out there and even Windows' built-in viewer performs acceptably when browsing through average images, although it is so limited. Now that everybody has lots of photos to deal with, one would expect some improvements in Microsoft's viewing app over the old W98 and XP in the successive OS's, but it's been very disappointing to find out neither Vista nor Windows 7, 8 or 10 were significantly better for the task so many years later, and such a bleak background is another spur for software developers. This article is going to be lengthy but it wouldn't be fair to end the review without mentioning some other freebies that offer quite remarkable features. (Thanks to everyone who let me know about them.)


  Users who just want a very simple replacement for the default Windows photo viewer have a good alternative with Pictus (thanks to mrin for the suggestion), kind of what could be called a "pure viewer". I used to recommend ACDSee Free for this position, mainly because of its impressive speed, but it has been discontinued, although it can still be found at several download sites. Anyway, Pictus has a few better features than ACDS, apart from being practically just as fast, and that's a lot to say! It displays pictures nearly instantaneously, no matter the image size, without needing lots of processing power, which makes it perfect for use in low-end computers. Even hard files like those huge PSDs or LZW-compressed TIFs are shown in a breeze, when they are usually a pain for other viewers to open. The interface is clean and the backdrop color can be customized in the settings menu, along with mouse behavior, rendering algorithm and a few other options. Since the program has no menu bar nor icons, it's operated mainly by right clicking and selecting the functions from the context menu, but it's quite user-friendly because there aren't many of them and they're clearly understandable. These include (very) basic sorting, picture orientation, renaming, wallpaper, and adjustments for brightness, contrast or gamma. You can use a few shortcuts, too. It supports 11 common formats, including animated GIF and PSD (no RAW), and adds the interesting ability to show their respective thumbnails in Windows Explorer, which is a very nice plus that might make some people (myself included) install the program even if they won't be using it. Besides, it can be made portable by placing a .ini file in the same folder as the main executable.

Pictus has a few drawbacks, however. It's just a sequential viewer like many others and it relies on Windows Explorer to access folders and files. No thumbnails or image lists are provided within the program and that means a limited navigation experience. I miss some more customization and an inexplicably lacking option to sort images by file type, apart from being able to use the arrows on the keyboard to browse through pictures without having to press the Alt key. Being a "pure viewer", no changes or adjustments such as orientation or brightness can be made permanent because the program does not allow to save the modified files as any format whatsoever. On the contrary, those adjustments are always kept from one image to another and to the rest of them when browsing and they have to be reset manually; this may be convenient or not, but there should be an option to control that behavior. Another personal inconvenience is that the Esc key always closes the program. Apart from that, it seems the program hasn't been updated in a long time. Nevertheless, many users will consider these drawbacks as minor because what they really want is simplicity and good speed. Pictus is a champion at both.


  Simplicity and speed are also key features in a very nice program called Nexus Image. This one was suggested by one of our readers (choifamilyipad) and it has turned out to be probably the most appealing of all the "simple" viewers to me because of its outstanding image quality and beautiful interface. Its opacity and color can be changed and a vertical thumbnail strip on the right makes browsing easier than in most other simple apps, where a linear previous/next file navigation must be followed. Folders are quickly accessed by double clicking the viewing window, selecting one from the tree and opening an image. Then you can use the functions either by right clicking and selecting them from the context menu or by means of conventional shortcuts, although mouse wheel zooming requires pressing Ctrl. Captions can be added to pictures, it can show EXIF information, supports common formats (not RAW, but does PSD and animated GIF), is available in many languages, has a light footprint on your system and is fully portable, with just a 2MB download.

On the downside, being so simple means there aren't many features to talk about ("Nothing to say. It's just a simple image viewer!", in its dev's words). I miss some of them in particular, namely some kind of sorting options for the thumbnails, basic cropping, and permanent rotation applied to pics, as it is just temporary with this software. Again, if you're used to pressing Escape to close a fullscreen view of an image in other viewers, then you'll find it a personal annoyance in Nexus, because doing so here closes the program with no prompt and you just can't help pushing the damn key... Well, anyway, that's something you can live with, I guess. And this program is worth the trouble.


  Honeyview, suggested by our reader Pliskin, is also one of those simple viewers sparing in features and focused on the basic viewing experience. It has a pleasant interface and a small set of intuitive controls for navigation. Most functions are accessed via right-click menu or keyboard shortcuts, and you can configure up to seven hotkeys to your liking. There are a few basic sorting options available and a slideshow mode. You will love its great speed even with big files and formats such as PSD or LZW-compressed TIF, which the majority of viewing programs take longer to open. Its image quality is also wonderful and RAW files are beautifully rendered if you choose not to display the embedded JPG, although this method is obviously slower. What is not slow at all is the rendering of images using the ICC color profile they may have attached; this is a remarkable aspect where nearly all the competitors are extremely weak, even the top ranking ones. Quite a lot of settings can be tweaked to fit your preferences, including background colors, mouse buttons' behavior, etc. The wheel can apply zoom in 10 or 1 percent steps. It supports 15 common file types (including animated GIF, which you can visualize frame by frame) as well as the main RAW formats, and is able to view images directly from compressed files without extracting them. It works on Win XP through W10 (32- and 64-bit) and a portable version is available.

The drawbacks are very few, assuming that the program is sparing in features. There's a thumbnail strip that shows a small preview but it's inside a menu and the design is awkward, as it won't let you click on a thumbnail to open the image. There are just two editing functions: rotate and resize, both sharing the same panel under the 'Convert' heading. The output conversion can only be saved as JPG or PNG. There's no cropping whatsoever nor a desirable TIF output that would be really handy to save the program's nice rendition of RAW files. When you are browsing, any eventual rotation is just temporary, but if you use the rotation commands, whatever pics you display after that will appear rotated, a peculiar all-or-nothing approach. Anyway, you can always set the preferences to autorotate based on EXIF info.


  Xlideit is the fancy name of another product that can be included in that somewhat blurry category of "simple" viewers (thanks to Bhat59 for the suggestion). I guess such a name is a pun for its ability to go to the next or previous file in the folder when you click on a picture and slide it left or right. It's fast enough and very user-friendly. The first time you open the program it presents you with the settings, which are quite a lot and let you customize such aspects as window transparency, background color, mouse behavior, zoom options, thumbnail size and position, toolbars, slideshow, etc., although the default ones are perfectly good to go. If you've read this article so far, it should be evident by now that having thumbnails available is one of my favorite features for a good browsing experience. Xlideit has a thumbnail strip at the bottom of the window by default, though it can be placed on either side or set to auto mode, when it will just pop up with a touch of the mouse. Likewise, a built-in folder tree is another useful item to have and there's one here, saving us unnecesary clicks to find a desired folder. Right-click menus are very complete too and most functions can be accessed this way or by means of icons. I also like that resizable detached zoom window, a very interesting concept that could be considered as the reverse of the navigator that is found in many imaging programs, where a little rectangle moving over a reduced version encloses the portion of the picture that you've zoomed into in the main window. Xlideit does the opposite: you have the whole image in the main window and the zoomed version in the detached view, and moving the mouse around shows the corresponding section blown up. Of course, you can also use the zoom in the main window, and even with animated GIFs and videos! The most common image formats are supported, along with video, audio and several document formats with text and pictures, and they can be sorted in many different ways. Image files can also be rotated, resized and cropped, and this can be done in a batch. In addition, it's very lightweight and portable.

Although I haven't found many inconveniences in Xlideit, as a power user the main drawback for me is what it can't do, but this is something not applicable to unpretentious average users who just want a simple way to browse through their photos. Some of the few flaws include the following: no RAW or PSD formats are supported, zooming out won't go further than the 'fit to window' size until you write the exact percentage inside the zoom widget (this one is not the same as the zoom window mentioned earlier), the delete button erases files with no prompt (they are sent to the recycle bin, fortunately), the Esc key always exits the program, and I miss a quick way to access a previously visited folder. As you can see, these are very minor drawbacks and then whether you like the program or not is just a matter of personal taste. Oh yes, and it's only available in English, but if you're reading this, it won't be a problem, I guess.


  One of our former anonymous users suggested cam2pc and, after giving it a try, it has proved to be an excellent program in many aspects. As the name suggests, cam2pc provides a handy way to download pictures and videos from your digicam to your drives, allowing you to use lots of options for renaming, saving, etc., and has specific support for the widely used Canon EOS cameras (separate download). The interface is intuitive and easy to use, with a folder and thumbnail view that resembles FastStone. As with this, I recommend to turn the preview panel off, though thumbnail generation is really fast. Actually, speed is outstanding in almost every aspect of this app. The feature that impressed me most was its ability to quickly display LZW-compressed TIFs, something unusual in its competitors, although these perform better with Photoshop PSDs.

The only reason why I don't include cam2pc along with the top programs is that the freeware version lacks quite a lot of features that can only be found in its commercial sibling and which the others offer for free. But I guess most users could perfectly do without those.


  Imagine is a very fast viewer vaguely resembling Irfan in its simplistic interface, though the number of features is lower. Wheel zooming also needs pressing the Ctrl key. Several instances of the program can be open at the same time, it lets you customize various mouse modes with different configurations and select any of them instantaneously to fit your workflow, allows frame extraction from animations, reads inside zip, rar and 7z archives, has multilanguage support, 64-bit versions, and is portable.

On the downside, it's quite limited in other areas; for instance, the editing and batch processing options. No RAW or video formats are supported. Sometimes a few Photoshop PSD files can't be read and an 'out of memory' message appears when trying to open them, irrespective of their size and my lots of free RAM and processing power. But the app is an AWSOME performer with the PSDs that load properly and displays them nearly instantaneously once the thumbnail has been generated; an outstanding feature that not many viewers, free or commercial, can boast.


  Picture Information Extractor Free (PIE) comes to this article after Panzer's suggestion and because it has nearly everything I think a viewer must have. Anyway, the developers insist mainly on the ability to visualize all the metadata embedded in pictures, which is undoubtedly another way of viewing them. EXIF, IPTC, XMP, keywords and other data are conveniently shown on a pane to the right of the screen when a file is selected. The main interface also displays a folder tree with a preview pane and the files can be sorted in various types of lists or thumbnails. The features include wheel zooming in fullscreen view, custom thumbnail size, powerful search, excellent import options, wonderful renaming capabilities, it reads RAW and PSD formats, deletes RAW+JPG files with one click, supports color management and has good image quality. As an outstanding plus, PIE is one of the very few programs that can rotate RAW files permanently and for some users this feature alone would make it worth the installation.

On the other side, this free version of PIE cannot save any changes to the metadata, which is the only cut compared to the commercial one, but quite significant. There are also a couple of flaws in important areas such as speed or zoom. No problem when you're surfing through average JPGs, TIFs, etc., but it takes some time to even change directories and access a folder full of big RAWs, and then another while to display each file in full screen. The zoom can't reach pixel level and, along with pan, it's a bit sloppy. Moreover, the wheel turn for zooming in or out works in the opposite way to the rest of viewers I've tried so far. I miss animated GIF support as well. But many users won't even notice these drawbacks.


  Although their names look nearly identical, Imagina has nothing to do with Imagine, reviewed above. Actually, that's where similarities end. This application ('a next-generation image viewer and editing tool', the developers claim) is a good representative of newer trends in this category, which pay greater attention to "fancy" interfaces and presentations to improve user experience. The main drawback with this is the usually high resource consumption and graphics card requirements. Imagina is a perfect example of the new concepts based around 3-D simulation, but much lighter on resources than others of this kind. Browsing speed isn't as fast either, even compared to "normal" viewers, and this is especially noticeable with bigger files. For instance, when opening some 18-megapixel JPGs the program clearly stays behind the top performers, though this shouldn't be an issue with most users.

There may be some things I really miss (more customization for certain basic aspects, a built-in folder tree, support for PSDs, more straightforward management of some files like TIFF, etc.) and many other reasons why my workflow as a photographer won't fit what Imagina proposes. But photo pros are only a few among the vast lot of digicam users who just shoot JPG. And these will love it! User experience is excellent and no other viewer I've seen shows that image quality or that zoom and pan smoothness. Both 2-D and 3-D graphics are amazing and even videos can be watched in this environment (with zooming and panning!). It offers state-of-the-art RAW support by using David Coffin's DCRAW along with its own algorithms, top quality editing functions, real color management and other useful tools. So many good things make it at least a must-try. (Requires .NET 3.0 or higher)

But the problem is that Imagina's development has been discontinued. Since it is an outstanding app, I'll keep it here for a while linking to the alternative download from Softpedia.


  After some debate in the comments section, I decided to mention FastPictureViewer, but just because of one single feature. This product claims to be (and it might be) the fastest viewer ever, especially indicated for quick browsing and culling. It uses hardware to speed things up and requires a lot of system resources and graphic capabilities. It has a nice interface as well. Anyway, the program offers very few functions once the initial trial period expires and actually becomes limited to viewing JPGs and not much more than screening and tagging. It does support full color space awareness, though, and the unbeatable speed is a very strong argument in its favor.


   Finally, one of our site users, Mythril, suggested two programs which work with a very different approach, but with a special focus on speed. These are Vjpeg and Osiva. I'll just quote Mythril's comments because they are right on spot (original 06/02/09): "Both work by opening images in a borderless window that you can drag around and zoom in/out at will, practically without any lag, and you can open as many images as you want at the same time. Both programs load very quickly, but don't have any features to speak of. Another drawback is that there doesn't even seem to be a way to cycle through images in a directory... Osiva is slightly better in that you can easily drag and drop a bunch of images and have it open all of them for a superquick overview". I'll add they support very few file formats and feel a bit awkward to use precisely because they're so different.


   Another reader, Bziur, also put forward First Impression, which works in a similar way without an apparent interface, just by using right-click menus and offering pretty much just what the name of the program suggests.


Related Links

This entry in the Wikipedia features a chart comparing a considerable amount of free and commercial image viewers. Most of these products are also given detailed individual entries and include links to their websites.

You might want to check out these articles too:



This software category is maintained by volunteer editor Marc Darkin. Registered site visitors can contact Marc by clicking here.

Back to the top of the article


Please rate this article: 

Your rating: None
Average: 4.5 (368 votes)


For me irfanView by default opens as a window that has the form of the picture and changed along with the next picture. Pressing enter goes to fullscreen. I like that because a lot of the times when I open images, I want t keep them open and move them around, not closing them. If I ever want to go throguh just pictures without the need of the window, I hit enter.

Even in full screen though, by default the images are their default size, rather than the full size.I hated that too in the past, but since i have been using IrfanView for many years and back then I did not know for a better one, I learnt to go in the settings. in the fullscreen / Slideshow, I change the option from the default "Fit to Screen: Large images only" to "Fit to screen: All Images/movies". Considering I too would prefer a software that has that by default, but since I use it for many years, changing that option and ticking "Apply Resample function for zooming" when it comes to fullscreen, has becoming something I do mechanically as soon as IrfanView is installed.

Hi, I'm looking for alternative to Windows Photo Viewer.
I very like Windows Photo Viewer, but my 2 big problems are the:
1. in zooming the quality is bad
2. There is no FullScreen.
I'm looking for the same thing with those two fixed. A lite app without a lot of features.

Any of the first few programs that can be found in the Related Products and Links section of the article are suitable for what you want. Pictus, Nexus Image, Honeyview and Xlideit are simple programs that can display a fullscreen view and have a good rendering quality.

Be aware, though, that the viewing quality of a zoomed image doesn't just depend on the program but also on the kind of interpolation algorithm used for the magnification. Some programs let you choose from a list of algorithms for that matter.

At bfief looking:

Pictus - I needed to set a lot of hotkeys to get what I want. The default keys was an issue.
Nexus Image - not my style.
Honeyview and Xlideit - are impressive, but needs more few improvements.

I'll look into it more and will decide. Thank You very much.

I have been very happy with IrfanView on my desktop, but now I also have a Windows tablet. I have not found a good viewer that works well without a keyboard, that shows pictures full screen and makes cropping easy. I would also like a feature that I have seen only in the Android program QuickPic that rotates pictures so as to maximize their size on the screen regardless of orientation.

Does anyone have suggestions?



I'm sorry I can't help. I have Android devices for tablet and phone and I use QuickPic myself. A quick search for "free picture viewer for windows tablet" gave me the link I'm providing below, but those are specifically photo editors. Anyway, I guess they must have some kind of viewer to relay on, so you might give them a try.

So what would the recommendation be for a free image viewer I can use on a work machine? I don't need lots of tools or organising ability just able to click on the file and see the image. Possible tools would be rotate/flip but I want to edit the picture I can use an editor. Work will provide edit tools if needed but I just need something that can view almost any image and maybe switch between files in a directory.
I like Irfanview and use that at home but it's license is not suitable for work machine.

Nexus Image is free even for commercial use, as they specifically say so.  I guess Honeyview could also be used commercially, as I haven't found any warnings against that, and it supports RAW files. You can read my review of both programs in my article.

What is your opinion about JPEGVIEW software? It is a sourceforge project and kept up to date. It is small and seems better than PICASA

I reviewed JPEGView in late 2010 and my opinions at that time are posted below. Anyway, the program must have been improved during these five years and I guess I'll have to give it another try if I want to be fair. These were my comments in November 2010:

JPEGView [...] is a good program in several ways: small build, light footprint, fast with average files, excellent image quality, useful basic editing tools and support for multiple CPU cores to speed up processing.

But I've come across a lot of other viewers that offer very similar features in terms of functionality; they are functional enough to satisfy users that just want a simple tool to open a folder and view its pictures in a linear flow. Of course it's a matter of personal taste and need, but I'm used to the more flexible approach that a built-in thumbnail view with a folder tree provides when inspecting multiple folders and selecting images. Batch processing options in this program are limited to rename/copy. The editor has no undo function. It supports just 5 file formats. Some degree of customization is possible via the .INI file, but this isn't very user-friendly.

As for speed, I was expecting a higher performance from the multiple-core support in the latest version and downloaded it for a test on a 6-core machine, 6GB RAM, 1GB graphics card, running Windows7 Ultimate 64bit. Yes, any changes to an image are processed almost instantaneously, which is excellent, and loading times are outstanding if you work with JPG or the usually small files contained in PNG or GIF (non-animated only). But most of the products reviewed above can handle TIF just as well, if not better, and even show no significant difference when dealing with the other formats under the same conditions.

So, I'm afraid I can't include JPEGView in my article. This doesn't mean I don't recommend using it. Judging by the opinions in the Source Forge site, many users find it excellent, but I'd have to endorse at least a dozen other similar apps that offer something quite as good. None of them play among the best, in my opinion.

Thanks for your suggestion.

I tried it out a while back ... it's very good, but too lacking in features to tempt me away from FSViewer which has been my favourite viewer since I first tried it years ago.

It certainly seems quite small and light, but with any reasonably new hardware I think system resources are not much of an issue in this case.

Nomacs is a dull average, unless you love its unique features, which are obviously, to use the nicest possible language, specialized.
In sheer use-ability Irfanview is far superior, and i speak as a lazy i-never-read-the-manual [-cause-it's-junk-anyway] user.
It's a pity Irfanview maker resolutely refuses to add selection tools and fix its crummy video, but even with these drawbacks it just blows away the competition. In a way i hate irfanview because otherwise i could switch to Linux [joyously!].

"... ImageGlass is a simple picture viewer with which you will be able to display your image collection in a very similar way to the one that Windows provides by default, but with some additional functions. This application will allow you to better manage your pictures thanks to the options it includes and the extension it enables to install for adding more functions and widening its possibilities ...":


"... InViewer is the successor of GIF Viewer. It contains the same features, many bugfixes, speed improvements and more, like support for audio and video files. Although it has more features, GIF Viewer has been revised, now InViewer is even lighter and faster ...":

Thanks, Panzer. Sorry for the delay. I reviewed ImageGlass a while back (late 2012) and I found out it wasn't good enough for me. My impressions at that moment are shown below. I don't know whether it has fixed the issues I saw then, but the improvements would have to be many for me to include this program in my article. As for InViewer, I'll take a look.

This is my review of ImageGlass (IG), one of the programs suggested below in this section (thanks to Debro5, comment #90791).

I tested ImageGlass on two different machines, one running Windows XP SP3 (4GB RAM) and the other, Windows 7 64bit (6GB RAM).

There could be some exceptions, but a built-in folder tree is something essential to me for convenience when browsing, without having to click the 'open' icon or use a keyboard shortcut. IG has no such thing and relies on Windows Explorer itself. It doesn't support any RAW formats either, which makes it very limited for my needs, although the majority of users will view JPG files only. With very few exceptions, the best image viewers (the ones that we account for in this article) provide support for RAW in its various formats or  let you view their embedded picture at least.

It's also important to provide a thumbnail window or a strip so you can eventually jump from one image to another in the folder without having to go through all the files in the middle (if you don't want to click 'open' again). IG has that strip at the bottom of the screen, but it can't handle the images properly, with no apparent reason. Many thumbnails just aren't displayed in the strip and a message "image is too large" appears instead, even with pics that aren't bigger than 3 megapixels and less than 1MB. High-megapixel JPGs seem too much for the app to cope with and just a few of them have their thumbnails displayed. All of these behaviours occur both on XP and W7. There's no scroll bar or left/right mouse sliding for the thumbnail strip, so when it is filled with thumbnails (or with "image is too large" messages) you must click on the first/last tumbnail and press the left/right arrow keys to access the next set.

The 'rotate' feature acts temporarily without affecting the file on disk, which might be a nice thing if it wasn't for the fact that it stays 'on' after your first use and rotates every other pic until you click again to rotate the opposite way.

And now the worst part. I'm sorry to say IG's zoom system is a complete mess. I don't know if I can really express all the odd things that happen at this stage. Mouse wheel zooming is allowed, though it doesn't zoom into the pointer position but just into the top left section of the photo. You can then drag the image around to see a certain area, but once you touch the wheel (or the zoom icons) in either direction you are taken to the top left area again! This is really annoying and very inconvenient, especially at high magnifications. If you keep zooming out, you're suddenly left with a tiny bit of an image: just a small spot on the monitor and lots of white space all around, but then the pic isn't kept at the center of the screen when you reach its outer borders -it just depends on where your mouse pointer was when you zoomed out. Curiously enough, you can locate the pointer over any area on the right hand side of the blank space and it will let you zoom in very slowly until some part of the image appears, then you're taken to the top left again. And it's different if you place the cursor on the left side. I'm having problems to find the right words now; you have to see to believe! Apart from this, dragging the image around to inspect different areas isn't smooth at all.

And then I must say the program crashes very often, both on XP and W7. I had a few "Exception error" messages in different sessions while trying the zoom performance. They could be discarded when prompted and the program stayed open with no other problems except they kept appearing if I used the zoom feature, and only stopped when the program was restarted. Likewise, the app ceased to work completely at other times when using the zoom or random operations that I gave up investigating after a while.

Bottom line: ImageGlass is a buggy product with no really special features and I can't recommend it.

Thanks for the help! I installed Wildbit just a few minutes ago. My initial impressions are pretty dismal. The GUi is the usual dogs breakfast, annoying but not critical [if you're motivated enough you can figure out anything given enough sweat].
The bigger problem is that the magic wand selection tool [the only free form selection tool it has lacks sensitivity controls, rendering it useless,]
Thanks for trying tho!

Skeleton walks into a bar, orders a beer and a mop.

I have my beefs with Irfanview [maker has blind spots re selection tools and video support] but it's best of all i've tried].
But i've not tried as many as you [you have a high pain threshold sir!].
My question: what would you say is the most Irfanview-like of all those you've tried???

QUESTION #2: When i tweak d/l'ed pix i often see staircasing from the makers edits [or other previous users?]. This suggests to my powerful mind that i'm not the only one who is frustrated by the inability of photo editors to do freeform selections [short of PhotoShops magic wand].

Thanks for your time,

What did the sadist do to the masochist? Nothing.

I apologize because I was wrong about the selection tools in the free version of Zoner. The lasso, marquee and magic wand are only available in the paid version. So your best choice to have custom selections made is WildBit Viewer, which is a very good program. Sorry about the mistake.

Well, perhaps the most IrfanView-like is a program called Imagine. Fast and simple, though not as feature-rich as Irfan, but the feel is quite similar in my experience. It has no selection tools either, as far as I can remember.

Many of the apps in my review have at least a marquee tool to make a rectangular selection and apply changes to it, but if you need something similar to Photoshop, the choice is clearly Zoner Photo Studio. It sports a marquee tool, a lasso tool and a magic wand. WildBit Viewer has a couple of these as well.

I've carried out another set of reviews comprising the products suggested by readers in the comments and a few others that I willingly tried as a part of my testing for the article. The latest requests (by mrin, Bhat59 and Panzer) were Pictus, Xlideit and Little Image Viewer (LIV). The first two have been included in my article, which is now a long one and I'm afraid it will probably grow even more, as new programs are getting better and better. It's also getting more and more difficult to find convincing reasons to let ones in and others out, and sometimes it's just a matter of personal feeling. But that's exactly why I feel like I can't fail to mention the ones that offer something special besides a good standard in terms of operation.

Apart from those three apps, I have also tested Diffractor, Coolutils Photo Viewer, vvvP catalog, and Free Exif Editor. I will keep an eye on a couple of them because they are good candidates to be included at some point in the future but not yet. I won't explain my reasons here because nobody asked about those programs and it would take longer than I'm prepared to. But I think I owe our fellow Panzer a few reasons why I have discarded that Little Image Viewer.

The first one is that I don't feel comfortable with it at all. It's not user-friendly. After the experience I may have acquired trying countless viewers, I still can't figure out how to do some things that I know that can be done with this one. I'm talking about something like showing the view with the menus and toolbars back again after having selected the full size view or the slideshow mode. Or how to get a 100% zoom without turning to that dreadful full size view, as there are no shortcuts or mouse commands for that, and the zoom slider refuses to just stay on the 100% figure and stubbornly keeps going from 99% to 101% and back when you slide it. Or how to stop the slideshow and go back to normal mode, because double clicking on a pic enters slideshow mode again. Or how to make the Esc key work like it's supposed to (well, it's my guess from that "_beenden mit <ESC>" German message that appears), which has no effect on any of the various things it might be used for. Or how to exit the program directly when the toolbars and icons have disappeared and I haven't learned the corresponding shortcut yet (it won't let the Windows taskbar show up and you have to press Alt+Tab to swap programs). And there are a few more inconveniences. I thought it could be a faulty installation and I reinstalled it again with no luck: lots of warnings or error messages appear without any apparent reason and they aren't very informative unless you know German (oh God, I thought something really serious had happened when I saw that "dateizugriff verweigert"!). Sometimes, with no apparent reason, you can't access the folder tree and it just won't open any picture or directory, and you just can't figure out how to load a pic from another folder because your menus and icons have disappeared and the Ctrl+o shortcut has ceased to work. This is one of the only two programs I know that zoom in and out in the opposite way to the rest when you spin the mouse wheel. Any zoomed view over 100% is always smoothed, and therefore useless for close inspection of artifacts or pixel sharpness. The thumbnails are blurry. The tooltips and menus are loosely translated in quite a few cases (check this out: "if window size is smaller than the image size than image size will be adapted to window size if choosen")... Well, I'm sorry but it's clearly a product that I can't recommend at the moment.

I love FastStone image viewer because it is simple -
Double click a jpg, and it opens up fullscreen with no other distractions.
I am helping with a friends PC. It is in a small business, so I had to skip my favorite.
Zoner appears to be free, for anyone, so I installed it.
I am detesting it, as I cannot get ti to just simply display the JPG full screen, with NOTHING else showing.
Is it possible to configure it to the way I like ?

Hi, Rob. Zoner has an awful lot of custom options and right-click settings and it can be overwhelming if you want to go into all of them. Now, answering your question, yes, it is possible to do what you want but it's not as straightforward as one might like the first time.

First, you have to go to Settings (Ctrl+M) > General (2nd item) > Double-clicking a thumbnail in the browser should launch: and select the Viewer module from the drop-down menu if it's not already set. Click the OK button.

You also want to make the filmstrip with thumbnails disappear, so press F9. Then look at the upper right-hand side of the screen and next to the usual three buttons for closing, restoring and minimizing the window you'll see another little icon with diverging arrows. If you click on it, the whole program window changes its appearance a bit and goes into fullscreen mode, which has a couple of options if you click the down arrow next to the icon (shortcuts F11 and F12). After that, your photos will always be displayed in full screen when you double-click them. But you still have to delve into the right-click context menu to get rid of the header and footer if you don't want them, or use Shift+I and Ctrl+I as a shortcut for them.

So, the best thing to do to simplify the process the first time: press F12, then F9, then double-click a thumbnail, then press Shift+I and Ctrl+I when the picture shows. You can use the arrow keys for a previous/next navigation. Not very simple, I know, but it's a one-time process. Thanks for reading us, Rob.

Thanks, Panzer. Will have a look.

[I've copied the text below and created this new comment because the author wrote it in reply to another one instead of posting a new topic. - Marc] by Lake Hache on 18. March 2015 - 21:05 (121471) Xnview keeps crashing on my Windows 8.1 desktop computer (20 Gig ram, fastest processor, excellent graph. card). I never tried Nomacs before and I was blown away by how well it works. I also love its thumbnail preview (which you can zoom in and zoom out!). Currently at the very top of my list and definitely 5 stars.
Thanks for your input, Lake. I don't know the cause of your problem with XnView. It runs smoothly on my Windows 8.1. And I'm glad you like Nomacs so much as it is a great program
I've finally managed to review a couple of the programs suggested here a while ago. One is Hornil Photo Viewer and the other is the open source kuView. Thanks Anupam and Panzer for the suggestions. Unfortunately, I don't think they can be included in my article. My reasons are stated below in separate comments for each program.
Hornil Photo Viewer (HPV) is a basic program that has a familiar interface. There's an icon bar at the top, a folder tree on the left, the main area in the center, and three smaller panels on the right: preview, histogram and info. These panels are detachable, resizable and dockable anywhere on the screen, which is a convenient feature in many cases. The histogram has a few modes and one of them can show a very nice (and useless) waveform rendering which is so appealing to the eye that I find it highly distracting most of the time :-) The operation is easy and user-friendly, mainly because just a few basic functions are provided, all of them with quick access to icon buttons or right-click menu. There's also a feature that lets you upload pics to Facebook. And that's about it. The shortcomings are important, though, with special concerns about speed. It is rather slow generating thumbnails and it doesn't keep a database so if you close the program, you'll have to wait for them to be reloaded the next time you open it. It's also quite slower than most competitors when opening bigger pics such as those produced by a Canon 5D Mk3 or a Sony A7, let alone 50 megapixel panoramas and the like. The info panel takes some time to refresh and it doesn't update the info at all with certain files. It's also very slow when changing from one folder to another, especially if they contain a lot of files. There's a one-click zoom feature that could have been very nice, but unfortunately it can't be customized and it magnifies to around 300% or so I guess, which is way too much to be useful, instead of the more normal 100%. The right click menu is inexplicably missing in the single photo view. No RAW, PSD or animated GIF formats are supported. I won't say this app is bad; it isn't. Many users will surely do just fine if they choose to view their pics in HPV. But a hundred other programs can do the same and no special features make it stand out, apart from that very nice waveform histogram, which is a picture on its own. That's not enough to include it in my article.
After the controversy about kuView (kV) a few months ago, I downloaded v1.6 and it resulted in 1/54 when submitted for analysis at Virustotal. It was suggested to be safe for use, with only Symantec showing a "WS.Reputation.1" message, which I don't know what it means. This product is another example of lots of misdirected work and effort, probably because the author is more of a keen developer than an everyday user trying to browse through a photo collection. This is already easy to guess from the default blue (!) background we are presented with when we open the app, but there are more facts supporting the opinion. These many years of reviewing and using lots of different programs don't seem enough to understand how to operate some of the functions that kuView offers or to even get a clue what they really do in a couple of cases. On the contrary, it lacks a few useful ones, like some kind of sorting options or basic customization for frequently used operations. There's a folder tree that shows the individual files inside the tree itself, but I admit I can't live with no thumbnails, so this is one of the first aspects I always look into. At first I couldn't get KV's thumbnail panel to show any thumbs at all. As no evident options are provided for this, I spent a long while unsuccessfully trying to find a way to show them and then I thought it could be a bad setup, so I tried a reinstall to see if that fixed the problem, but no luck. Then I installed it on a laptop (I was going to do it anyway as a part of my normal reviewing process) and got the same result. Since the interface screenshots on KV's site show a very nice thumbstrip, I knew the issue had to be some kind of error on my side. Yes, it was: I was just assuming the thumbnails would be generated automatically. After a lot of frustration, I found out that you must drag and drop every single file onto the thumbnail panel for them to be displayed, something that may be great or awful, depending on how you look at it. In KV's way you can gather thumbs from different folders and show them all together, but having to do that manually with all the files in a folder seems quite unreasonable. The method might make more sense if your selections could be saved for later use, but there's no way to store the sets you've collected and you'll have to start it all over the next time you open the app. There are some other aspects that prevent me from recommending KV. Zooming with the mouse wheel is quite sloppy, it also requires pressing the Ctrl key and it won't work if you're not careful enough to click on the picture one more time after you've selected the file from the folder tree. There's no info about zoom percentage and none of the options for the 100% level (icon, hotkey or context menu) work at all in the way they're meant to, a behavior that ruins any eventual good experience (though I might be doing something wrong again). And I haven't been able to use the "Zoom In/Out on mouse pointer, Zoom In directly by mouse select" feature that the program boasts to sport. I could go on and on with other issues that I've found, such as image quality, interpolation, slideshow, function dialogs, config file creation, PSDs taking forever to load, etc., but I'll just leave it here.

One more Viewer with a funny name is "Xlideit Image Viewer". I don't know what the name means. But I liked it. Look at the Picture info it exhibits on the top left of the screen - Big fonts. I liked this idea. It has taken a place in my desktop as my sixth viewer - for viewing only. The backdrop can be made transparent. But Xlideit doesn't play PSD files.