I was using Windows the other day and was in the need for a good resizer. My search led me to the FastStone Photo Resizer, which I found to be perfect for the job I needed it to do. While looking at the FastStone Photo Resizer website, I saw they also had another free program for Windows, called FastStone Image Viewer. For some reason, image viewing programs are always a bit “funny” for me. I don’t want something that tries to act as a full-blown image editor, while at the same time I don’t want something that can only show me pictures. Sometimes I need to quickly rotate or crop an image, and I like for my image viewer to be able to do that. But if I want to start making my own art (adding layers, text, other images, adjusting colors and hue/saturation/brightness), for that I want an image editor, not an image viewer. Some programs seem to be confused about what they’re trying to be, while others seem to have a good balance. FastStone Image Viewer seems to have found that balance.
Before I continue, I should add that if all you need is a simple image viewer, you may as well stick with what Microsoft includes in Windows (Windows Photo Viewer) or use the Windows Live Photo Gallery if you need a bit of control over creating a library of your photos (Windows Live Photo Gallery can also be used as your default image viewing application).
Where FastStone Image Viewer shines is that it doesn’t try to collect all your images into one place. It doesn’t copy them to its own, “special” folder, or use a proprietary database to keep track of your photos. You simply browse through your hard drive using the file browser until you find what you want to look at. You can use the arrow keys to view all the images in a folder, but you can also do some light editing.
FastStone Image Viewer offers red eye removal, image conversion and such standards as resize, rotate, crop, sharpen/blur, brightness, contrast and more. You can also give your images a bit of style by converting it to grayscale or sepia. If you’re trying to create something a bit more artsy and “finished,” FastStone Image Viewer also includes drop shadows, frames, and watermark abilities.
FastStone Image Viewer also includes a really cool full-screen mode. While in full-screen, simply move your mouse to the edge of your screen to see a few tools that can be used on the current image. It’s nice to have access to these tools no matter what mode you’re using.
If you’re worried that FastStone Image Viewer won’t be able to display your images, chances are you’re worried for no reason. A full list of supported formats (and cameras for importing images) is available there, as is a full list of features (a list too long to include here), but suffice it to say that FastStone Image Viewer supports standard image formats such as JPG, PNG, TIF, GIF, BMP (12 formats in all), as well as the ability to save to eight different formats.
As I said, FastStone Image Viewer is a nice blend of viewer and editor, without going overboard in either direction. It doesn’t impede your ability to simply look at your images at the expense of editing features, and your editing features are full enough in spite of still being a good viewer. If you have one of the more popular image viewers or editors installed, it might not be a very necessary piece of software, but FastStone Image Viewer is quality software, and for someone needing a nice blend, it’s a good choice.