The Best Photo Viewer I've Seen In Years. And It's Free.


If you keep your photos on your computer as digital images, rather than storing them as prints in albums, then you'll need a decent program for viewing them.  There are plenty to choose from.  But in my experience, they're all very similar.  They do the same job, in the same way, and they are often too pretty for their own good.

I recently discovered a brilliant program called Diffractor, which is pretty close to the ideal image viewer as far as I'm concerned.

For a start, it's fast.  It's also a small download of less than 8 MB.  And it's free. And of course it's malware-free too, according to VirusTotal and Web of Trust.  But its features don't stop there.  You can view not just photos, but also play video and audio files too.  And if you want to tweak the photo you're viewing, you can adjust its colour, straighten it, and so on.

Perhaps best of all, though, is its support for metadata.

You may be aware that, within an image file such as a JPG, there's provision to store keywords, tags, a caption, and so on.  Not all image editors let you view or edit this data, but it's there.  And because it's stored within the image itself, it never gets lost.  Where the file goes, the metadata goes too.

Not only does Diffractor let you edit image metadata, but you can also search it too.  So as you gradually tidy up your collection of pictures, and add appropriate tags, finding all the photos of the kids from last year's holiday trip is now a piece of cake.

If you want to bring some order to your pictures, Diffractor is a stunningly useful program.  Take a look at the short getting-started video at to see what it's all about, then click through to the site's home page to download it.




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Ah, the egoistic tantrums of flamers expands to the better lighted corners of the web. Never bothering to read, understand or care and yet so quick to let others know how stupid, uninformed and foolish they are.

For all the millions of individuals already on or entering into the web there are differing ways of learning, of thinking, varying degrees of aptitude, needs and wants. Not everyone can write code, not everyone can utilize what they wrote. That is why libraries have extensive research areas as well as children's books and how-to manuals.

Sites such as Gizmo's seek to educate the unknowing, elucidate the inobvious and encourage continued learning. They offer access to the most basic tutorials, simple tools, latest software, the best software and the help to know which is most suited for the individual who is seeking; and all this for free.

I will probably never understand the need to feel superior by belittling others, nor yet the desire to claim the throne as being all knowing. I do understand the need to help those who are wanting, and the desire to share such as you know and have that may help them to learn and understand more than they knew when they asked. I only hope that someday there will be more candles than darkness...

Please excuse me while I explore this new program I have never heard of before to see what it may have to offer me or those I know.

Thank you, Gizmo.

I am one of the developers of Diffractor. There is just two of us and we are only volunteers. We both have day jobs. This is a hard review to live up to but we will do our best.

Gizmo readers have been amazing and provided a lot of great feedback. If you find bugs or have suggestions please help us to make Diffractor better by reporting them at

It is expensive to run such a project and the sponsor payments are far from covering our costs. Custom indexed of folders are the only feature that is limited; 99.9% of our active users are using it for free. We have to reward supports somehow.

Diffractor is designed to take advantage of your graphics card. There are a lot of different hardware and drivers out there. We try to support as much as possible including all sorts of old Windows XP hardware. If you see problems please give us details.

There are a lot of great venerable image viewers out there. We have nothing against any of them...use what makes you happy :)

Many thanks ZacWalk for taking the time to interact with us here. MC - Site Manager.

I really wanted to test this programme properly, but it is too annoying, impotent and buggy (it does not, for instance, understand, that my taskbar is on the left).

I know most of the freeware viewers, mentioned in these comments here, and they are all way better than this "Diffractor" (and really freeware). I recently "donated" 10 euros to developer of my long time default image viewer; this didn't unlock anything, since nothing was locked. I got a nice message from the author and my name in "about" window. Properly done.

So many excellent viewers put the standards very high. This candidate has to eat a lot of polenta to be able to compete here. Have a nice day!


"I gots to know"

what is your -
"my long time default image viewer"

Dirty Harry

It is on Gizmo's list of best image viewers. Al programs there are fine.

To be fair, I have tried Diffractor again, but I am still missing too many features and settings. I didn't find an option to turn colour management on, for instance. And still don't like the jumpy interface. On the other hand, it seems stable and searching is fast and efficient.

Personally I prefer Nikon View NX2.

Well I tried it. Hated it. Needs the flexibility of Irfan, but then it would be Irfan, which is what I will continue to use. No menu to select the folder you want to look at. Nor, as far as I could see, an easy way to STOP the pictures jumping out, it is giving me a headache and could cause an epileptic fit, which does not have a warning about.

Liked the way the pictures went forward like a slide show but could not find the help to see how to stop it. At least Irfanview you can create an individual slide show..

I have a couple of complaints -

1) I don't like the way the (software) world is going with simplistic / smarmy / minimalistic toolbars, instead of menus. This program is guilty of this.

2) It is telling me that my graphics acceleration ain't making it, so the program cannot function properly. It also tells me to go out and buy a new graphics card

It is lucky that guns are illegal in Australia.

I thought this site was about freeware, not crippleware or paid software. Personally, I use XnViewMP x64. I'm one of those that when I want to view a picture / image, I prefer a standalone app to do that with. This way there is no crossover between apps, each one does a specific task. In fact for straight viewing (not manipulating), the built-in Windows application works just fine.

Tried it briefly but didn't like it at all. I found the interface to be clunky and confusing. I think I'll stick with FastStone ImageViewer instead.

another good ones: irfanview,jpegview,xnview,xnviewmp,faststone image viewer,artsage

I like digiKam and showFoto, which does about the same thing. They came with my openSUSE but there are versions for those who haven't converted to Linux yet.

If i had ten bucks to spare, i'd probably get it - in a month or so i may still.

I tried it and it does look pretty cool. However it must be classified as crippleware since certain important features are disabled unless you sponsor it for 10 bucks. Nothing against this in principle, but since I can't find any compelling reason why I should use it instead of (or in addition to) my current fav, Zoner. Fast? Yeah, but I haven't found speed to be an issue in ANY of the popular photo viewers; they are all pretty much instant. Metadata support & search? Zoner does it. Editor? Zoner is MUCH more capable. Audio & video support? I really don't care about this in a photo viewer, but again, Zoner does it.

So I'll pass.

There are features that to access you must spend $10.00 which i find more than reasonable. But, of course, there are the ones that, if it's not free, they just don't want the software. These people got to make a living also... don't you think ??? Sure, you've got Picassa and many more that can perform just like or even better than Diffractor but, hey i just happen to like it's "paid features" and I'm glad to say that i will sponsor whom i see fit. I also like "free" software, don't get me wrong, but i also contribute (donate), when possible, to software free lancers so that they can continue developing and making better apps & tools for all. Hasn't it ever crossed your mind that us "sponsor's" provide, in part, the free software that you enjoy so much ??? Just something to think about......

Apparently you need reminding that this site is called "Gizmo's FREEWARE" [my caps]. This software might therefore be more suited to "Someothersite's PAIDWARE". And you might consider, in fairness, desisting from criticising people for their expectation on a FREEWARE SITE that things be free.

Referring to what is, in fact, a purchase as "sponsorship" is a tad disingenuous.

In a month or so if i can manage to get $10 loose, i may very well buy it, since it sounds good.

I am going to take a look at this but to be honest I don't think any program will convince me to abandon Irfanview which has been around for nearly 20 years, scoring top marks and millions of downloads each year.

May be I am missing something but I fail to see what this program has to make it superior to Picasa
I find it difficult to manipulate. Picasa is much easier and has all the same (or better) features

Certain functions - such as the ability to index pictures locations other than "Pictures", "Videos", "Music", "Desktop" or "Downloads" require you to become a "sponsor" - i.e., purchase the full version.

Since the majority of the images i'd like to index/manipulate are in other locations than those, this is not exactly "free" for me.

Back to Picasa, i guess.

And i thought that i had the best viewers on my PC. That's right, i said viewers..... Lets see, NexusImage,FastStone Image Viewer, Zoner Photo Studio 16. They're all excellent but this Diffractor is something else. First of all let me say that just to look at it is pleasing to the eye. You can view videos and hear you audio files also which is nice. It very fast may i say an it support's metadata which is good to know. You can perform basic editing like color correction and so forth. Not bad but what really impresses me is how fast it is. One other thing, FREE is a great option....... thanks Robert for discovering this gem...

Hi jorgreem,
If you have a look at your Faststone program you will find it includes full EXIF metadata and the ability to add comments to it. It also performs basic editing extremely well and you can annotate pictures to use for tutorials etc.
I have tried many other viewers, and always came back to Faststone, eventually sending a donation because it was a program I used daily, and not because they had witheld any features.
Best wishes

Hi Freecycler...

Thanks for the info. Yes, Faststone has EXIF metadata and a few other things. I do use it with other software like Zoner, Perfect Effects Free V9 and LightBox Free as well. But what I use as my daily image viewer is NexusImage. It's my default viewer and use it just to view. It's not a editor but it does render excellent image quality and it's "eye candy" which I just love. Take it for a ride and see if you like it.... .... Thanks for the info and tip...

A great find Robert. New to me and it has tons of features. It also has an option to view photos auto rotated based on the Exif Orientation. When this option is checked (by default), it shows photos rotated in full view based on the Exif data while displaying thumbnails as they are without rotation. Pretty cool. On top of this, it has a button allows me to physically rotate a photo. But unfortunately it doesn't update the Exif orientation when that rotated photo is saved. As a result, while the photo has been physically rotated back to its normal orientation, the viewer rotates it again based on the old Exif data. Hence a double rotation.