FastStone Image Viewer Review
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Tags: FastStone Image Viewer, browser, image editor, picture browser, picture editor, picture browser, freeware, Windows
FastStone Image Viewer is a free (for personal and educational use) image browser, converter and editor for Windows.
Download and Installation
FastStone Image Viewer can be downloaded and installed as a single executable file (.exe) or as a zip file from the developers website . There is also a portable version that you can carry on a removable storage device (USB stick for example) and which requires no installation.
Graphic formats supported
FastStone Image Viewer supports all major graphic formats (BMP, JPEG, JPEG 2000, animated GIF, PNG, PCX, PSD, EPS, TIFF, WMF, ICO and TGA) and popular digital camera RAW formats (CRW, CR2, NEF, PEF, RAF, MRW, ORF, SRF, ARW, SR2, RW2 and DNG) and displays all EXIF information.
The FastStone Image Viewer Interface
When you start the application for the first time, you are presented with three panels: In the left window, you can browse through your photos folders in a window tree in a Windows Explorer-like way; In the right panel, you can view thumbnails of the pictures present inside the selected folder; Lastly, a resizable preview panel is available in the bottom left corner: using the magnifier in the preview panel allows you to zoom on the selected image, while double-clicking on the preview window will launch the corresponding picture in full-screen mode.
Panels are resizable: hover over the double vertical line or the double horizontal line that separates two of the windows to turn the mouse pointer into a two headed arrow, and click and drag the line to resize the applicable windows.
In browser view, editing tools are logically accessed from the top menu: the most commonly used tools are available through a set of small icons (download photos, zoom in/out, crop tool, rotate tools, slideshow, screen capture, etc) while many other editing tools (more about this later) can be accessed by using the edit drop down menu. When selecting a tool in the edit menu, the image will open in a pop-up window mode with different options and settings available for each tool.
The second view mode is called windowed view: it basically gets rid of window tree and thumbnails, whilst the top menu bar (where all editing tools can be selected for example) remains.
From browser view, it is possible to switch at anytime into windowed view by clicking on the corresponding button in the upper right hand corner (screenshot below). Once in windowed view, to go back to browser view, click on the button again.
Windowed view maximizes the screen so more space is available to work on a specific image, whilst retaining the familiar top menu bar with direct access to all editing tools and settings.
Full Screen View
This third mode, which displays an image as large as possible, can be accessed in different ways: from thumbnails view, you can, for example, click on the 'switch to full screen button' in the upper right hand corner (screenshot below). You can achieve the same thing by double-clicking on any thumbnail or by double-clicking on the preview image as well.
Full screen view expands the image so it now occupies the whole screen space. Not only the thumbnails and window tree are gone, but the top menu bar is also hidden from view. For this reason, this mode is probably the best when working on large image(s) for maximum precision and comfort.
As the top menu bar is not present in full screen view, accessing the various editing tools is now done by right-clicking on the image, which opens a contextual menu with most of the tools already available in browser mode.
In full-screen view, selecting a different picture within your selected folder or browsing to a different folder remains simple: just move your mouse pointer to the top of the screen. This will reveal a horizontal thumbnail browser where you can view thumbnails of all the pictures available inside your folder: from there, you can click on any of the thumbnails to view and edit the picture in full-screen; you can also navigate to other folders on your disk using the left and right arrows. A small set of icons is available below the thumbnails to launch basic tasks (for example, to rotate your image left or right, compare 2 images, print or email them or launch a slideshow) but these tools can of course also be accessed through the contextual menu (right-click).
Interestingly, if you were not comfortable with the horizontal browser available in full-screen mode or if you needed to browse through lots of different folders, the traditional Windows-Explorer like folder tree used in browser mode is still available in full-screen mode by clicking on the ‘folder tree’ button on the left, which will expand it.
In full screen mode, all information (EXIF metadata, histogram) can be accessed by clicking on the 'Image Property' expandable window in the right side of the screen.
The full-screen mode background (if the picture doesn’t cover the whole screen) can be adjusted in the settings menu to any colour you like and the image file text colour accordingly.
A very useful 'compare images view' is available (normal view or full screen view) where 2 to 4 images can be viewed side-to-side.