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FastStone Image Viewer – the best tool for managing your photos. Period. [Freeware]


faststoneimageviewer FastStone Image Viewer   the best tool for managing your photos. Period. [Freeware]

There’s a ton of image viewers out there, some great others not so. Some of the most famous include IrfanView which has been around for donkey’s years, and other less well known but popular programs such as ACDSee Photo, which is also not a bad tool. We recently had urgent need of a photo viewer, editor and manager utility, and having hunted around for ages, found one which beat the others hands down in terms of features, power and sophistication.

We featured the superb FastStone Image Resizer freeware a few years back, but the power of their new FastStone Image Viewer (FIV) utility has really blown us away. Now don’t expect a fantastic user interface, with all modern bells and whistles, because that’s not where this program excels. The interface is, to put it bluntly, definitely a throwback to the 1990s, but if you can get over that, you’re going to love what you can do with this tool.

For one thing, and it’s a HUGE feature, it’s one of the very few free photo viewers which let you deal with files on a select and action basis. Most of the others force you to use Windows selection function (e.g. hold down the shift or control key and select multiple image files to process). Which is fine, unless you’re doing a ton of files at one time and only need to select around 20 out of hundreds. At which point the limitations become obvious if your finger slips off the key or mouse.

faststoneimageviewer2 FastStone Image Viewer   the best tool for managing your photos. Period. [Freeware]

With FIV, you can set things up to select images with a checkbox, so no matter what happens your selection stays intact (use Settings – Thumbnails tab – Allow File Tagging). It can save a lot of headaches and time with large data sets. The freeware also handles most of the RAW image formats for the major camera brands, which is excellent and very useful if you do a lot of RAW shooting.

faststoneimageviewer3 small FastStone Image Viewer   the best tool for managing your photos. Period. [Freeware]

We also love the instant pop up editing interface which you get on single image view, which gives you all the power you need to tweak your images to your liking. No, it’s not a replacement for something like Adobe Photoshop LightRoom, but there again we’re not talking the same price league. For what it is, this program really does give you enough to satisfy most casual photographers and enthusiasts.

You can edit levels, sharpen, crop, rotate and all of the usual editing requirements you may need on your photos. There’s a slideshow creator (which also supports mp3 audio) and a superb image size optimizer to help create perfect sized images for emailing as attachements without sacrificing quality. And tons more features too numerous to mention.

faststoneimageviewer4

Needless to say, the thumbnail and general image handling is first class, and you can tell that because the program does most of the important stuff without you needing to ask. It will scan and retrieve the folders and photos you have on disk in seconds, and just about every action you take happens at lightning speed. Even the editing and image processing is impressively fast.

All in all this is definitely the best photo and image manager we’ve found on the freeware market. If you’ve got years worth of photos you need to sort out, tweak and store we cannot recommend this free program enough.

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.



  • http://www.opiniondominion.blogspot.com steve from brisbane

    Thanks for that – I have been a long, long time fan of Irfanview and much prefer it over any software that has ever come with a camera. This one sounds worth a look, however.

    • http://www.redferret.net Nigel Powell

      Yes me too. I started with Irfanview when it first appeared and really like it. I guess things move on though, and I'm really impressed with the quality of software from this company. I even donated to them after finding this viewer.

  • http://twitter.com/CoolPileCom @CoolPileCom

    Alternatively – you can try XnView – has the same set of advanced features but the multiple action macros seem easier to be applied on bulk set of pics.

    • http://www.redferret.net Nigel Powell

      XnView is OK, but there's really no comparison in terms of interface and features. The FastStone product has a huge set of editing functions which are literally one click away (in fact one hover away, just move your cursor to the left edge of any full screen image), and they work much better than the XnView tools too.

      The batch processing of FastStone is also much much better in that you can select and unselect multiple images with a click, which is something almost nobody else does (including XnView). Sorry but there's no comparison to my mind – FastStone remains the one to beat by a big margin.

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