This post will present 21 image viewers that you have likely never heard about, which run the gamut from full-fledged image organizers to small and simple viewers with a light footprint that you might want to use in addition to your default image viewer.
The purpose of this post is to showcase alternatives to the dominant free viewers (e.g. Irfanview, Picasa, Xnview, Faststone Image Viewer, and Zoner Photo Studio)
The programs mentioned are: Osiva, Imagina, P3dO, StudioLine Photo Basic 3, Twins Visions, PinPics, Imgv, My ViewPad, JPEGView, NexusImage, Recursiview, Image Glass, Scarlet, Stoik Imagic, CSlide, Roboreader, FSPViewer, FreeVimager, Picgl, Vjpeg, and Cornice.
- Osiva: view images as desktop objects
- Imagina: combine a good interface with sheer raw power
- P3dO Explorer: a viewer for images and 3D objects
- StudioLine Photo Basic 3: impressive, full-featured photo organizer and editor
- Twins Visions: brings a stylish ‘3D browsing’ experience to your image folders
- PinPics: juxtapose your geo-tagged images with a Google map
- Imgv: image viewer with a unique, stylish interface
- My ViewPad: may have one of the best graphics engines on the market
- JPEGView: fast image viewer with on-the-fly image processing
- NexusImage: a stylish, practical image viewer
- RecursiView: view images in a folder and all of its subfolders
- Image Glass: lightweight image viewer that keeps things simple
- Scarlet: a competent, well rounded image viewer
- Stoik Imagic: a nice image organizer, editor and viewer
- CSlide: portable viewer of image folders with a nice interface
- Roboreader: view images and comic book files as floating objects on your desktop
- FSPViewer: view panoramic images in high quality
- FreeVimager: straightforward, low-maintenance image viewer
- Picgl: innovative image viewer and organizer
- Vjpeg: images as floating desktop objects, with no visible interface
- Cornice: a cross-platform viewer inspired by ACDSee
1. Osiva: view images as desktop objects
A program that lets you overlay images on screen as objects and save and manipulate their layout. You can even apply a transparency (doesn’t work very well on all images, but check out the screenshot top right for a demonstration).
2. Imagina: combine a good interface with sheer raw power
Billing itself as the photographer’s favorite tool, Imagina provides everything you would need in an image viewer, from one click fixes (exposure, color correcting, RAW image handling, contrast equalization, etc), to a slew of image alterations, color management, and preset filters, image tagging, etc.
Imagina makes a lot out of the ‘3D viewing’ mode, whereby images are dropped from above onto what virtual desktop surface. (Count me not very impressed). In any case, 3D or no 3D, this is an excellent image viewer. One thing though: make sure to switch to a different skin from the default one, which isn’t very inspiring to say the least.
3. P3dO Explorer: a viewer for images and 3D objects
P3dO Explorer is a file explorer that can view, manage, and perform basic transformations for a wide range of image types as well as more than 40+ 3D object filetypes such as OBJ and Quake MD2 (displays wireframe, flat shaded, smooth shaded, cartoon, texture mapping polygon modes). Can view CBR and CBZ with the addition of plugins.
I really like the way images are displayed in their own windows (see screenshot above); however, I was unable to set it as the default image viewer (on Windows 7 64 bit) despite running as admin and despite finding what looked like the would be settings in the tools menu. Cool tool all the same! Note that it is designed and feels more like a file manager than an image viewer.
4. StudioLine Photo Basic 3: impressive, full-featured photo organizer and editor
‘Impressive’ is the operative word here. This program is a photo organizer, editor, and viewer that can do pretty much anything you can think of, from image enhancement to tagging, geotagging, applying filters, to creating web galleries, etc.
Note that you will need to register with a valid email and a registration code sent to you to use this software.
5. Twins Visions: brings a stylish ‘3D browsing’ experience to your image folders
Free software Twins Visions offers what may be the most innovative image folder browsing experiences, and certainty one of the most appealing. You can point it to several image folders and they be transformed into panels (see screenshot above left), which can then be quickly browsed or viewed. Twins Visions also offers a plethora of interesting and/or stylish filters that can be applied to images (see screenshot above right). Overall, this software provides a tremendous user experience.
6. PinPics: juxtapose your geo-tagged images with a Google map
7. Imgv: image viewer with a unique, stylish interface
Imgv offers a very interesting interface that combines keyboard and right-click controls. Some users will really like this; others won’t. I tend to be in the former category myself.
8. My ViewPad: may have one of the best graphics engines on the market
‘My ViewPad’ is an unexpectedly serious contender, in that it claims posses what is “likely … the best digital graphics engine that is available on the market”. It also covers a wide range of image formats. And thought the margins in the interface (esp. the right sidebar) may seem like a lot of wasted space, you can use the program in fullscreen mode simply by pressing F11.
My ViewPad runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and, interestingly, also works as a TotalCommander plugin.
9. JPEGView: fast image viewer with on-the-fly image processing
A small and fast free image viewer with on-the-fly image processing (such as auto color correction, local density correction, etc.) applied in realtime as you view your images.
10. NexusImage: a stylish, practical image viewer
This one is minimalistic and stylish. You can see the thumbnail ribbon embedded in the right hand side of the screenshot above, but what may not be apparent is the ‘Lightbox’ image viewing style you find on many blogs (including this one), where the image seems to float up while the background is dimmed. Overall, very cool (and free).
11. RecursiView: view images in a folder and all of its subfolders
A free image viewer that can view images within a folder and all subfolders within it. Recursiview is perfect for those who organize their images into multiple subfolder. It offers a slideshow option with configurable delay.
12. Image Glass: lightweight image viewer that keeps things simple
A lightweight, “versatile” free image viewer, partially designed to display images faster by preloading the next one into RAM. A nice option if you want to keep it simple, although on Windows 7 I had to set it to run as Administrator in order to (a) add it to the right click context menu, and (b) get rid of a strange error that I got whenever I terminated the program. One thing I wished for, though, is to have a quick way to associate Image Glass with popular image formats wholesale.
13. Scarlet: a competent, well rounded image viewer
Scarlet v2.0 brings support to image formats such as DDS, HDR and PFM. It also supports SWF files. It can perform image conversion and renaming operations, and can display only the alpha of images. A free image viewer to consider.
14. Stoik Imagic: a nice image organizer, editor and viewer
If you’re looking for an image organizer and editor Stoik Imagic is a good choice. Featuring a nice looking interface and a good range of functions, Stoik’s only drawback is it’s insistence on showing you all the functions that the free version does not support in the form of inactive, greyed out menu options, which I find really annoying. The program gives you a one month trial with the paid functions active, before it reverts to the free version, but the free version is quite competent in its own right.
15. CSlide: portable viewer of image folders with a nice interface
A portable, small, free image viewer which can view image folders and any subdirectories in it recursively (like Recursiview above). CSlide supports dragging and dropping folders and a has a nice interface that appears on mouse-hover and/or right click.
16. Roboreader: view images and comic book files as floating objects on your desktop
Yet another of the ‘image-as-floating-object-on-the-desktop’ style viewers such as Osivo (above) and Vjpeg (below), that also tries to minimize the UI. Except that this one supports CBZ and CBR comic book formats, and offers additional/more mature functionality than the other two.
17. FSPViewer: view panoramic images in high quality
If you have panoramic images on your hard drive or a CD and want to view them with a high quality viewer, FSPViewer is what you need. This free portable software uses advanced algorithm to show you smooth images “without losing sharpness”.
18. FreeVimager: straightforward, low-maintenance image viewer
A surprisingly low-maintenance image viewer, for those who want their viewer to display images but have some good interventions at hand, behind the scenes, without making too much fuss about it. This one is meant to kick in when you click on an image, and does not offer browsable folders of thumbnails.
19. Picgl: innovative image viewer and organizer
This one can be hard to talk about intelligently, because I was only able to read the program web site via Google Translate. But the tool, which itself is available in English, looks really interesting, especially the image organizational view (“freeview”) in which the program will organize your images automatically on a visual timeline or based on other criteria.
Anyway I suggest you download the portable zipped version, at least in 64 bit, as the 64 bit installer English version did not turn out the be an English version at all.
20. Vjpeg: images as desktop objects, with no visible interface
Vjpeg is similar to Osiva, above, in that it displays images as objects on the desktop. However, it is even more minimalist, having no interface at all, and being entirely keyboard controlled.
21. Cornice: a cross-platform viewer inspired by ACDSee
This program was created as a ACDsee-like image viewer for Linux, but is also available for Mac and Windows. It is a basic program with no frills, designed to view and bookmark images only. Which is why some readers just might like it.
[Thanks go to Alaa K for many of the screenshots above.]
Do you know of any interesting, free image viewers that I missed? Let me know in the comments section.