Professional photographers and designers often need to preview large groups of image files quickly. Even IT professionals working in a non-creative environment occasionally need to perform basic edits to images or convert many images as a batch job. For jobs like these, the image viewing software bundled with Windows just doesn't cut it. Enter the IrfanView graphic viewer. Is it the Right Tool for the Job?
This is what you see what you see when you start IrfanView for the first time.
Customize IrfanView application slightly
Well, I prefer to remove the toolbar. In fact, you can take away the status bar and even the menu bar if you really want.
Opening a file from the file open dialog
This is what you see if you select the file open dialog. An incredible number of file formats are supported. Believe it or not, this is a better level of support than you get from most commercial packages out there. Sad but true.
IrfanView File menu
Let's take a look at the File menu again. We're going to look at some of the options shortly.
IrfanView Thumbnail viewer
The IrfanView Thumbnail viewer is an extremely powerful application within the main IrfanView application.The screenshot is self-explanatory. There are a couple of really annoying flaws in this module though -- more on that later.
IrfanView Thumbnail viewer: File menu
Let's take a look at the file menu of the IrfanView Thumbnail viewer.There are too many options for us to go into here, but we shall look at a few of them shortly. By now, you should have realized what Irfanview's first flaw is -- and not just with the Thumbnail viewer, but with Irfanview as a whole. Many of the options are buried in non-intuitive locations and menus. This problem will likely annoy the first-time user no end, causing them to discard IrfanView despite its many powerful features.
Here you see one of the reasons that the Thumbnail viewer is as powerful as it is. You can define the size of the thumbnail image to your exact preference.
IrfanView Thumbnail viewer: Options menu
Again, can you say non-intuitive layout?
IrfanView Thumbnail viewer: File browser
I hid my directory structure in the initial screenshot so as to protect my privacy. But if you would look at this screenshot, you will notice that IrfanView Thumbnail viewer uses an old-style file browser. That means no My Documents or attractively arranged Desktop.
IrfanView Thumbnail viewer: FTP Settings
Someone user must have requested this feature once upon a time. It could be a lifesaver if you really need this, but come on, there are better free FTP apps around -- most of which will actually remember your FTP server addresses.
Batch Conversion Module
The Batch Conversion Module is another powerful feature of IrfanView: You can define all manner of resizing, renaming and conversion operations on a virtually unlimited number of files. If it looks complicated, that's because IrfanView offers you very fine-grained control over this process. You can even define the resulting file name.
Advanced Options in Batch Conversion
Under the "Advanced" button in the Batch Conversion dialog, you can define even more funky operations on your graphic files. Want to rotate, flip, even adjust the colour depth as a batch operation? No problem at all.
Batch Conversion Module
IrfanView in the midst of a batch conversion operation
Batch Conversion Module
Batch conversion in progress...
IrfanView is suitable for the professional photographer due to its inherant support of IPTC and EXIF information (after installation of the free plugin).
You can also set IrfanView to display a slideshow according to your preference. And if you think this looks messy, well-- I agree. I'm sure you're starting to get the idea.
Move file(s) option
Here you define locations for operations such as rename, move, copy and delete.
Scanning from TWAIN.
By printing the scan directly, IrfanView simulates a photocopier.
Viewing an image
Viewing a large image taken at CommunicAsia 2007.
Image after re-sampling
Yup, the resampled image (50ï20fits better now.
IrfanView allows you to view all available information about the image being viewed.
Viewing EXIF information
Professional photographers would probably find this information useful. The rest of us will probably never view EXIF information.
IrfanView Options menu
Simple resample/resize operation
Doing a resample or resize is pretty easy with IrfanView.
Move to/Copy to option
Sorting through a huge photograph collection and trying to filter out the wheat from the chaff? Simply press the shortcut key for "move" on the photos you want to keep as you quickly preview your selection in IrfanView. Easy, right?
Multiple language support
Now, I've never tried IrfanView in anything other than English. But it's good to know that the option for multiple language exists.
Help file showing the program shortcuts
Do check out the shortcut keys. They make IrfanView so much more powerful.
IrfanView Help menu
A quick peek at the options available under IrfanView help menu
IrfanView is free for non-commercial use, but if you like it, why not reward the programmer?
The Right Tool for the Job?
I love IrfanView. I have used it for years now, and I have found it to be a very useful image viewing tool. (I like to use it to print odd-sized images within a single page.) Once you get past the initial hurdle of learning the application, you'll quickly find it to be an extremely capable application. IrfanView gets my vote as the Right Tool for the Job.
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By Paul Mah
Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.