5 Excellent Free Image Viewers for Windows

From basic browsing to editing, there are many ways to view images

The advent and widespread use of digital photography has brought with it many hundreds of software applications for viewing images.

Free image viewers may simply allow you to view and organize your photographs, while others provide faster loading time, better quality and capabilities beyond simple editing. Some will only load default JPG images while others will let you work with RAW formats. You may need a simple viewer for quickly browsing and selecting an image to import into Photoshop or an equivalent high-end program. Alternatively, your ambitions may lie in simply being able to crop or copy an image for sharing. Your choice of free image viewer depends on how involved you are in working with your images.


IrfanView Portable

A popular portable viewer that runs from a flash drive

The IrfanView image viewer is highly popular but, when a portable view running from a flash drive is more appropriate for you, then IrfanView Portable might be your best choice.

IrfanView Portable’s interface is very traditional image editor-oriented with various drawing tools in a sidebar. The menu bar is above the main window and, once an image file is opened, size and creation and modification dates and percentage size being viewed are displayed at the bottom. HEX, ASCII and RAW files can be opened in addition to JPGs, and editing options include many tools which would otherwise require full-function photo editing software. Batch conversions are supported, and several plug-ins are available to extend usage to video and audio file formats, exporting to PDF and sharing.



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Fast multi-format browsing and viewing

Whether you are viewing full screen, as thumbnails or as a slideshow, a fast display is the essence of the XnView free image viewer. A range of options is available for organizing your images as well as a nice selection of tools for editing them. You can even create a web page to display your images, and XnView is capable of reading a vast array of popular and custom formats.

A tabbed interface makes it easy to work with multiple files and tools. The browser on the initial tab allows you to navigate through your image files. Previews display to the right with file information and a histogram options. A selected image opens in a new tab with access to editing tools.

  • Multi-format browsing, viewing and converting
  • Explorer-type view for quick browsing
  • HTML page generation
  • Twain support for both scanners and digital cameras
  • Image editing
  • Image manipulation and effects
  • Batch conversion
  • Screen capture
  • Multi-language support

Originally developed as a straight image viewer twenty years ago, XnView has been continually updated over the years. Today, highly customizable and multi-lingual, it meets user requirements for organizing, viewing, converting and editing images.



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FastStone Image Viewer

Superior interface design in an excellent user-friendly viewer

Almost every function of the FastStone Image Viewer can be accessed from its main interface which has a browser panel, a thumbnail window, and preview window. Images open at full screen and pop-up toolbars appear for quick access when the cursor passes over the corners of the window. No installation is required – just download and execute.

Editing tools include rotating, cropping and resizing/resampling, red-eye removal and lighting, color and curve adjustment. There are also a host of special effect tools and clone tool and brush special image effects and text, highlights and shapes can be added to your images. It’s a free image viewer that’s comparable to a full image editing utility.

Batch conversions, format conversion splitting, merging, tagging are all supported. All major image formats are compatible, and the program provides slideshow mode with transitional effects and music, side by side viewing, wheel zooming and preset magnifying for panning the image. FastStone is fast to load average size images and provides an ultra clear display.



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nomacs Portable

Rotate images, crop them and even get GPS coordinates

A very well organized free image viewer, nomacs Portable installs and launches quickly to a clean interface featuring a horizontal thumbnail panel above the main window. It supports most popular image formats including many RAW images, animated GIFs and multi-page TIFFS.

There are many customization options – view file details including metadata, histogram, and GPS coordinates, run full screen, run in the background at reduced opacity. Editing and image manipulation options are available. A file browser is provided, but files can also be dragged and dropped onto the workspace.

  • Supports most popular image formats
  • Drag and drop
  • Transparency options
  • Fast thumbnail preview
  • Toolbar and menu bar hiding
  • Anti-aliasing, pseudo-color, mosaic creation
  • Automatically saves screenshots

The big advantage for many users is the ability of the program to synchronize viewers installed on the same computer or over a LAN in order to compare images by panning and zooming them simultaneously.



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Scroll panoramas horizontally and vertically

WPanorama is a free image viewer program and a screensaver utility that allows you to scroll wide-screen panoramic images. You are enabled to scroll 360 degree JPEG or bitmap images at various speed levels, but the program can also be used to display non-panoramic images complete with slideshow capability and a number of effects.

While the viewer and screensaver each have a different focus, the interface design is basic to most image viewers, the difference being the scroll controls. Direction, speed, and zooming are set here with plus and minus signs for increment and timing control. Text, logos, and music can be added. The control panel and toolbar can be hidden for seamless full-screen display. Movies can be made using BMP or AVI files, and music can be associated with panorama displays.

Screensaver properties can be accessed from the main program or separately with the relevant settings from the main program provided as screensaver properties. The screensaver module generates a new image each time it starts or after set intervals.

WPanorama presents fantastic panoramic views as they scroll horizontally or vertically across your screen. The program includes a 360 degree Swiss panorama which illustrates the potential for you to create beautiful panoramic screensavers on your computer.



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Need more of a selection of image viewers? Visit our Image Viewers section.