"IrfanView - very popular image viewer"
IrfanView is a simple, light and free image viewer application whose functionality can be greatly extended by plugins. It has several unique features such as batch image resizing or conversion and a vast file format support. Do these features work well enough for IrfanView to replace the default Windows Photo Viewer on your PC? Read on to find out.
Installation is a little tedious with a lot of checkboxes to look through and options to configure. Once you’re done with that though, the application installs in the blink of an eye. No ad-ware of any kind is bundled. IrfanView will work fine on any Windows OS newer than and including Windows XP. You won’t have to download any additional software to successfully install IrfanView.
The basic interface is really clean and minimalist. Most common features are accessed using familiar icons arranged in a single horizontal row, and everything else is tucked away in menus. Sadly, the interface is just clean on the surface. When you look in the menus, they are quite long, and not categorized or collapsible in any way, so finding the option you’re looking for isn’t always easy. An annoying caveat is that the features that you can add-on by installing plug-ins are shown in menus even if the required plug-in is not already installed. If you choose those menu options, all you get is a dialog box that pops up requesting you to install plug-ins from the publisher’s site. Another complaint is that the mouse controls aren’t very intuitive. Scrolling the wheel takes you to the next or previous picture, instead of zooming into or out of the picture as you’d expect. Overall, an interface that is not very intuitive, and will take some time to get used to.
IrfanView’s selling point is the number of features it offers. It’s almost wrong to call it just an image viewing software, because it is capable of a lot more. To start with there’s a companion “Thumbnails” viewer attached which generates thumbnails of all the pictures in a given folder and displays them in a neat grid view. This works great, and is really useful. Lots of image tweaks are possible from within the software. You can crop, rotate, perform red-eye correction, generate negatives, adjust colours, apply different effects such as Emboss and 3D and a lot more. Once you start installing plugins, IrfanView becomes an all-out multimedia suite, capable of playing videos and even performing OCR. There’s even a simple paint dialog box that can be invoked, allowing you to draw basic shapes on the image you’re viewing. IrfanView also handles a huge range of formats, and should be able to open almost anything. Despite all these features, IrfanView is really light on your PC’s resources, and will not slow down other programs. Though the interface has a learning curve, it’s actually more powerful than the Windows Photo Viewer interface. IrfanView is far ahead of most image viewers in terms of features: a power user’s dream come true.
Although in versions previous to 4.32 we encountered problems zooming out of images once they were zoomed in, this issue is no longer present in the current version.
The obvious competitor is the Windows Photo Viewer, which is by default installed on every Windows PC. IrfanView beats Windows Photo Viewer by a mile in terms of features. However, if simplicity is the key requirement, Windows Photo Viewer might be the better option. Other alternatives to consider are the Vallen JPegger and FuturixImager.
IrfanView is a versatile, powerful image viewer with hundreds of features that are useful and work quite well. Apart from some performance issues, and an interface that’s a little difficult to get used to, it’s a great application that is worth having installed.
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