Not everyone likes the window’s built-in lean and mean image file viewing/previewing feature like me. It may serve the purpose if you are viewing only a few graphics files and not need much control over the viewing aspects or the details of the graphics files. But what if you want to view a large number of files, manage them, perform some image enhancement operations or simply want to view some exotic formats such as eps, pic, pix,psd etc. ?
To have all the above mentioned features and many others you will need a third-party graphics viewer/converter. Probably the most famous shareware application in this category is ACDSee Photo Manager which supports amazing amount of features but the newer versions have a feature bloat particularly after the version 6.0 (in my opinion). There are a number of really good freeware image viewers available including the IrfanView , FSViewer and Shock Viewer that more or less offers the same functionality as ACDSee Photo Manager. All of these have strengths and weaknesses and require a detailed comparison. But generally speaking IrfanView has probably the most number of followers out of all the free image viewing applications followed by FSViewer.
I have used the IrfanView for sometime but was never comfortable with it’s interface after moving from ACDSee, so after I discovered FSViewer a year back, I immediately switched to it. I really liked the fancy interface and rich functionality and particularly the similarly in many aspects to the ACDSee viewer. In many ways you can compare it to the older versions of ACDSee (3.0) in interface, image editing, file operations and speedy operation etc. Of course features in newer versions of FSViewer are much more polished as compared to the older versions of ACDSee. I was under the impression for a long time that this is the best image viewer available for MS Windows period. But guess what another free image viewing application that I discovered in last couple of months proved me wrong(although I still think that GUI and the placement of the different options/features in FSViewer is still the best of all the freeware image viewing application out there).
“XnView is a utility for viewing and converting graphic files.” This is what official homepage says about it. This the most concise explanation you can give for such an incredibly powerful image viewer as it’s feature go far beyond mere image viewing . Some of the features are outlined below:
- Import about 400 graphic file formats
- Export about 50 graphic file formats
- Multipage TIFF, Animated GIF, Animated ICO support
- Image IPTC, EXIF metadata support
- EXIF auto rotation support
- IPTC editing
- Resize, rotate, crop support
- Lossless rotate & crop (jpeg) support
- Adjust brightness, contrast…
- Auto levels, contrast
- Modify number of colors
- Apply filters (blur, average, emboss, …)
- Apply effects (lens, wave, …)
- Fullscreen mode
- Slide show with effects
- Batch convert, batch rename
- Create WEB page easily
- Screen capture
- Create contact Sheet
- Create or edit Multi-page file (TIFF, DCX, LDF)
- TWAIN & WIA support (Windows only)
- Print support (Windows only)
- Drag & Drop support (Windows only)
- Compare image side by side
- Filmstrip layout
- 44 languages support (Windows only)
- And many many other things…
It will be useful to mention some of the advantages that it has over the FSViewer – my second best choice as an image viewing application now.
- Supports preview/playback of video formats avi,mpg,flv,asf, wmv etc.
- You can perform a search on a number of criteria’s such as file name, date, size, exif/IPTC information etc.
- It can find graphics files based on the file contents, rather than just the filename as most other image viewers do including FS Viewer(an options needs to be set in the preferences for this to work). To observe the working of this feature navigate to the cache folder of your Firefox profile from XnView and you will be able to view the images that are present in the cache folder although they have not the proper extension(jpg,gif,png etc)!
- Includes a shell extension that will allow to see a preview of the current image file from the windows file explorer, set the image as the wallpaper or convert it to another format, all from the file context menu!!
- Extensive plugin support including support for many Photoshop filters.
- Almost every aspect of the interface or the functionality can be customized from the preferences
- Also available for Linux, Mac OS X and many other platforms.
- These are just the noticeable advantages that I found during my interaction with the XnView as there may be many others yet to be explored!
However, one area that I think FSViewer still holds supremacy is it’s highly polished visual interface and placement of the features at the right places where you expect them to be. Besides providing rich feature-set XnView do not compromise in speed as loading speed of the application is pretty fast.I also like the fact that it can be used in portable mode if a user wants.
Try XnView and I am sure that you will really like it. You can download the latest version from the official homepage here.
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