Anyone who works with images on a regular basis will be familiar with the default image viewer of Windows, and also with its very limited scope for doing anything meaningful. There is a healthy selection of alternatives but FastStone Image Viewer has come to our attention as one that deserves to be singled out not only because it is free but also because it brings to the table a strong combination of speed, usability and versatility.
While the viewing functionality is a no-brainer, FastStone comes with a range of methods with which to browse pics. First off, there is the standard file browser that displays thumbnails of your images with a preview window for the file that is currently selected. There is also an option to check out individual pictures at their original size in the “Windowed View”, which is along the same lines as the default image viewer in Windows. Finally you can see images in full-screen, switching between files using the keyboard, the middle mouse button or the slide-in toolbar at the bottom of the screen.
However, FastStone Image Viewer goes beyond simply displaying images. You can perform some quick edits to really bring out the best in your pics such as adding a stylish frame mark that acts as a mask to reduce the sharp edges or if you happen to be working with 3D there is also a very effective bump map option that will serve you well for texturing. There are of course the standard tools of brightness/darkness adjustment, sharpness/blur, grayscale, red-eye removal and more. For results better than those you get with FastStone, you would need to use a professional package like Photoshop.
Further great features come in the form of batch rename and batch convert options. These could prove invaluable to many web developers looking for a quick way to prepare their PSD files for the web. With the inclusion of these batch functions, it would have been good to push the boat out even further and have an option to apply batch effects, for example to brighten up a group of photos that were taken in a dark space but alas, it’s not there!
Looking for faults with FastStone Image Viewer is like looking for the corner of a circle although if you insist on nitpicking, you can say that in the thumbnail browser view dragging and dropping should be possible for moving files. However when you realize that it is possible to drag and drop with the left nav bar that argument looses its legs. As I mentioned, there is healthy competition in the image viewer arena, but thanks to the innovative features of FastStone Image Viewer the bar has been raised to new heights.