Impressive: display PDF’s and images as (stylish) PowerPoint-style presentations


Impressive is a free multi-platform app that can display any PDF file or folder containing image files (JPEG, PNG, TIFF and BMP) as a slideshow presentation. It can be used to present PDFs or images as full-screen PowerPoint-style presentations or it can function as a full-screen reader.

“Impressive” also offers a combination of sophisticated slide transition effects and a number of practical presentation tools, including spotlight effects, box highlighting, zooming in, and an overview screen that displays slides as thumbnails and allows for quick navigation.

I attended a conference last year where most presenters, subsequent to giving their presentations, made them available online for attendees. What I noticed, however, was that almost all of the dozens of presentations provided where in PDF format; and not a single one was provided in the original PowerPoint file (although I am certain most where created using the Microsoft program). I noticed the same thing at a recent webinar I attended; the emailed presentation, when it materialized, was published as a PDF.

Impressive Screenshot - Slide Overview Screen

If you use or publish presentations as PDFs or as image files this program will be a delightful addition to your repertoire of tools. (Or indeed if you use it as a full-screen PDF reader you will like it as well). It does the following:

  1. Present any PDF file or images folder full screen as a slideshow in the same manner as a PowerPoint presentation.
  2. Will introduce some very nice alpha-blended smooth transitions between slides that greatly enhance the visual experience
  3. Provides a handful of very useful presentation tools that most will find really practical.

Here are more notes on this program:

  • How to use: the program does not have a GUI interface; you can either drag and drop your PDF file or folder containing images onto the impressive executable or run it at the command line “impressive pres.pdf”. For the command line a number of parameters are available, such as automatic advance in x seconds, specifying the aspect ratio, setting the screen resolution and others. You can also easily create shortcuts that will open your presentations; see below.
  • The Overview Screen: pressing tab will display the overview screen (see screenshot above). This allows for quick navigation into any slide you want.
  • Impressive Presentation ToolsOther presentation tools: spot-lighting, rectangular-shaped highlighting, and zooming-in.
  • Portable: unzip and run, no installation necessary.
  • Creating shortcuts that will launch your presentations: (a) place your PDF in the same folder as “Impressive”; (b) right click on Impressive.exe and create shortcut; (c) right click on the shortcut’s “properties”; (d) in the “target” field, add the name of the PDF (including the extension) after impressive.exe, with a single space between them. Finally (e) you can rename your shortcut as appropriate, place it anywhere, and click on it to launch your presentation.

Wish list:

  • A GUI: where you could, say, specify viewing parameters for your presentation then save as a shortcut that will launch it.
  • Support for compressed folders: i.e. a compressed folder containing images, including comic book archives in CBZ and CBR, which will make Impressive into a comic book reader as well.

Freewaregenius 5-Star Pick

The verdict: a very original program that is simply terrific! If you frequently give presentations and use PDF or image formats, this program is definitely for you. You will also like it if you have presentations in PDF format or PDF files that you prefer to watch full-screen as slideshow-style presentations. Or if you simply want a tool that will display folders of images as slideshows with some nice transitions and the ability to zoom in or highlight elements in your slideshow.

Version Tested: 0.10.2

Compatibility: Windows, Linux, MacOS X.

Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 10.1 megs).