Twenty one interesting FREE image viewers that you’ve (probably) never heard of

This post will present 21 image viewers that you have likely never heard about, which run the gamut from full-fledged image organizers to small and simple viewers with a light footprint that you might want to use in addition to your default image viewer.

The purpose of this post is to showcase alternatives to the dominant free viewers (e.g. Irfanview, Picasa, Xnview, Faststone Image Viewer, and Zoner Photo Studio)

The programs mentioned are: Osiva, Imagina, P3dO, StudioLine Photo Basic 3, Twins Visions, PinPics, Imgv, My ViewPad, JPEGView, NexusImage, Recursiview, Image Glass, Scarlet, Stoik Imagic, CSlide, Roboreader, FSPViewer, FreeVimager, Picgl, Vjpeg, and Cornice.

Image formats gallery

  1. Osiva: view images as desktop objects
  2. Imagina: combine a good interface with sheer raw power
  3. P3dO Explorer: a viewer for images and 3D objects
  4. StudioLine Photo Basic 3: impressive, full-featured photo organizer and editor
  5. Twins Visions: brings a stylish ‘3D browsing’ experience to your image folders
  6. PinPics: juxtapose your geo-tagged images with a Google map
  7. Imgv: image viewer with a unique, stylish interface
  8. My ViewPad: may have one of the best graphics engines on the market
  9. JPEGView: fast image viewer with on-the-fly image processing
  10. NexusImage: a stylish, practical image viewer
  11. RecursiView: view images in a folder and all of its subfolders
  12. Image Glass: lightweight image viewer that keeps things simple
  13. Scarlet: a competent, well rounded image viewer
  14. Stoik Imagic: a nice image organizer, editor and viewer
  15. CSlide: portable viewer of image folders with a nice interface
  16. Roboreader: view images and comic book files as floating objects on your desktop
  17. FSPViewer: view panoramic images in high quality
  18. FreeVimager: straightforward, low-maintenance image viewer
  19. Picgl: innovative image viewer and organizer
  20. Vjpeg: images as floating desktop objects, with no visible interface
  21. Cornice: a cross-platform viewer inspired by ACDSee

1. Osiva: view images as desktop objects

Osiva Screenshot1Osiva Screenshot2

A program that lets you overlay images on screen as objects and save and manipulate their layout. You can even apply a transparency (doesn’t work very well on all images, but check out the screenshot top right for a demonstration).


2. Imagina: combine a good interface with sheer raw power

Imagina Screenshot
Billing itself as the photographer’s favorite tool, Imagina provides everything you would need in an image viewer, from one click fixes (exposure, color correcting, RAW image handling, contrast equalization, etc), to a slew of image alterations, color management, and preset filters, image tagging, etc.

Imagina makes a lot out of the ‘3D viewing’ mode, whereby images are dropped from above onto what virtual desktop surface. (Count me not very impressed). In any case, 3D or no 3D, this is an excellent image viewer. One thing though: make sure to switch to a different skin from the default one, which isn’t very inspiring to say the least.


3. P3dO Explorer: a viewer for images and 3D objects

p3dO Explorer Screenshot2

P3dO Explorer is a file explorer that can view, manage, and perform basic transformations for a wide range of image types as well as more than 40+ 3D object filetypes such as OBJ and Quake MD2 (displays wireframe, flat shaded, smooth shaded, cartoon, texture mapping polygon modes). Can view CBR and CBZ with the addition of plugins.

I really like the way images are displayed in their own windows (see screenshot above); however, I was unable to set it as the default image viewer (on Windows 7 64 bit) despite running as admin and despite finding what looked like the would be settings in the tools menu. Cool tool all the same! Note that it is designed and feels more like a file manager than an image viewer.


4. StudioLine Photo Basic 3: impressive, full-featured photo organizer and editor

StudioLine PhotoBasic Screenshot1StudioLine PhotoBasic Screenshot2
‘Impressive’ is the operative word here. This program is a photo organizer, editor, and viewer that can do pretty much anything you can think of, from image enhancement to tagging, geotagging, applying filters, to creating web galleries, etc.

Note that you will need to register with a valid email and a registration code sent to you to use this software.


5. Twins Visions: brings a stylish ‘3D browsing’ experience to your image folders

Twins Visions Screenshot1Twins Visions Screenshot2
Free software Twins Visions offers what may be the most innovative image folder browsing experiences, and certainty one of the most appealing. You can point it to several image folders and they be transformed into panels (see screenshot above left), which can then be quickly browsed or viewed. Twins Visions also offers a plethora of interesting and/or stylish filters that can be applied to images (see screenshot above right). Overall, this software provides a tremendous user experience.


6. PinPics: juxtapose your geo-tagged images with a Google map

Screenshot - 1_1_2012 , 2_53_27 AMScreenshot - 1_1_2012 , 2_54_06 AM
If your camera supports geo-tags, or if you have geo-tagged images, then check this viewer out. PinPics can display a Google maps with pins that point out the geographical location on a Google map.


7. Imgv: image viewer with a unique, stylish interface

IMGVIMGV HISTOGRAM

Imgv offers a very interesting interface that combines keyboard and right-click controls. Some users will really like this; others won’t. I tend to be in the former category myself.


8. My ViewPad: may have one of the best graphics engines on the market


‘My ViewPad’ is an unexpectedly serious contender, in that it claims posses what is “likely … the best digital graphics engine that is available on the market”. It also covers a wide range of image formats. And thought the margins in the interface (esp. the right sidebar) may seem like a lot of wasted space, you can use the program in fullscreen mode simply by pressing F11.

My ViewPad runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and, interestingly, also works as a TotalCommander plugin.


9. JPEGView: fast image viewer with on-the-fly image processing

JPEGView Image Viewer and Editor Screenshot2JPEGView - Image Viewer and Editor2

A small and fast free image viewer with on-the-fly image processing (such as auto color correction, local density correction, etc.) applied in realtime as you view your images.


10. NexusImage: a stylish, practical image viewer

NexusImage Screenshot2

This one is minimalistic and stylish. You can see the thumbnail ribbon embedded in the right hand side of the screenshot above, but what may not be apparent is the ‘Lightbox’ image viewing style you find on many blogs (including this one), where the image seems to float up while the background is dimmed. Overall, very cool (and free).


11. RecursiView: view images in a folder and all of its subfolders


A free image viewer that can view images within a folder and all subfolders within it. Recursiview is perfect for those who organize their images into multiple subfolder. It offers a slideshow option with configurable delay.


12. Image Glass: lightweight image viewer that keeps things simple

IMAGE GLASSIMAGE GLASS
A lightweight, “versatile” free image viewer, partially designed to display images faster by preloading the next one into RAM. A nice option if you want to keep it simple, although on Windows 7 I had to set it to run as Administrator in order to (a) add it to the right click context menu, and (b) get rid of a strange error that I got whenever I terminated the program. One thing I wished for, though, is to have a quick way to associate Image Glass with popular image formats wholesale.


13. Scarlet: a competent, well rounded image viewer

scarlet2b scarlet3
Scarlet v2.0 brings support to image formats such as DDS, HDR and PFM. It also supports SWF files. It can perform image conversion and renaming operations, and can display only the alpha of images. A free image viewer to consider.


14. Stoik Imagic: a nice image organizer, editor and viewer

Stoik Imagic Screenshot2Stoik Imagic Screenshot

If you’re looking for an image organizer and editor Stoik Imagic is a good choice. Featuring a nice looking interface and a good range of functions, Stoik’s only drawback is it’s insistence on showing you all the functions that the free version does not support in the form of inactive, greyed out menu options, which I find really annoying. The program gives you a one month trial with the paid functions active, before it reverts to the free version, but the free version is quite competent in its own right.


15. CSlide: portable viewer of image folders with a nice interface

CSlideCSlide2
A portable, small, free image viewer which can view image folders and any subdirectories in it recursively (like Recursiview above). CSlide supports dragging and dropping folders and a has a nice interface that appears on mouse-hover and/or right click.


16. Roboreader: view images and comic book files as floating objects on your desktop

RoboReader Screenshot

Yet another of the ‘image-as-floating-object-on-the-desktop’ style viewers such as Osivo (above) and Vjpeg (below), that also tries to minimize the UI. Except that this one supports CBZ and CBR comic book formats, and offers additional/more mature functionality than the other two.


17. FSPViewer: view panoramic images in high quality

FSPViewer Screenshot

If you have panoramic images on your hard drive or a CD and want to view them with a high quality viewer, FSPViewer is what you need. This free portable software uses advanced algorithm to  show you smooth images “without losing sharpness”.


18. FreeVimager: straightforward, low-maintenance image viewer

FreeVimager Screenshot
A surprisingly low-maintenance image viewer, for those who want their viewer to display images but have some good interventions at hand, behind the scenes, without making too much fuss about it. This one is meant to kick in when you click on an image, and does not offer browsable folders of thumbnails.


19. Picgl: innovative image viewer and organizer

Picgl screenshot1Picgl screenshot2 - freeview

This one can be hard to talk about intelligently, because I was only able to read the program web site via Google Translate. But the tool, which itself is available in English, looks really interesting, especially the image organizational view (“freeview”) in which the program will organize your images automatically on a visual timeline or based on other criteria.

Anyway I suggest you download the portable zipped version, at least in 64 bit, as the 64 bit installer English version did not turn out the be an English version at all.


20. Vjpeg: images as desktop objects, with no visible interface

Vjpeg is similar to Osiva, above, in that it displays images as objects on the desktop. However, it is even more minimalist, having no interface at all, and being entirely keyboard controlled.


21. Cornice: a cross-platform viewer inspired by ACDSee

Cornice Screenshot1
This program was created as a ACDsee-like image viewer for Linux, but is also available for Mac and Windows. It is a basic program with no frills, designed to view and bookmark images only. Which is why some readers just might like it.


[Thanks go to Alaa K for many of the screenshots above.]

Do you know of any interesting, free image viewers that I missed? Let me know in the comments section.


 
 
 
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  • Kurt

    irfanview. forget the rest!!

  • awscorp

    Agreed.. :)

  • Steve

    My favorite is Xnview!

  • Brian

    Studioline has to be one of the most under-rated pieces of software ever.

    I discovered it about 8 years ago and liked it so much I bought the paid version “Studioline Photo Classic”. It’s overkill as an image viewer – Irfanview or XnView (my favourite viewer) are better for that. Studioline’s strength is in image management and organising. Once you have thousands of images on your hard disk you need something to make finding particular images easy. That’s where Studioline comes in.

    It’s quite capable as an image editor as well,l but organisation is its strength.

  • Joe

    Thanks! :)

  • Peter

    >> This post will present 16 image viewers that you have likely never heard about
    You probably mean 21

    Nevertheless, very nice overview.

  • Peter

    “NexusImage” is now called “Imagina”

  • Peter

    >> “NexusImage” is now called “Imagina”
    That’s not true.
    It’s the link to “NexusImage” that is wrong. It points to Imagina.

  • Samer

    @ Peter: you are right. 16 should be 21 (fixed), and Nexus Image was indeed pointing to the wrong link (fixed).

    @ Brian: I agree studioline is cool

    As for Irfanview, Xnview; yes, great image viewers. But I still wanted to showcase some others for a change.

  • Raj

    Thanks samer for presenting these image viewers. I use irfanview and xnview but it is always good to try new software.

  • http://www.quakemachinex.com/blog/ AvP

    http://www.honeyview.org/

    HoneyView is a fast image viewer supports archived image file for comics/manga/photos.

  • Ben

    Is there any possibility, some of the programs above, able to open up .dwg file

  • adamstrange

    The Twins Visions program don’t work properly.
    When I go to add an image folder it tells me the my video card is out of memory and it won’t open the image folder.

    Thats really stupid considering that I have a Radeon HD4650 running in windows 7 64bit.

    Avoid this stupid program.

  • Rain

    Hi Samer, do you know of a really simple lightweight image viewer (like infraview) that can view 2 pages at a time and save images easily to another folder? I know Roboviewer and mangafox can but I found them a bit awkward.

  • http://www.mytinyjumplist.nl/SideViewer.html Wim

    Here is another simple Image Viewer I just wrote. Feel free to see if its handy for you,
    installation requires a little computer knowledge.

    Design principles:
    Minimal chrome / User Interface, maximal content / area for Images.
    Compact presentation, the principle of using space for design is not used.
    Fluent resizing of the images in the viewer and the thumbnails.
    Enlarged user experience by the mouse point-and-zoom, move-and-drag principle.

    See:
    http://www.mytinyjumplist.nl/SideViewer.html

  • Jeff

    Without doubt Fastone Viewer is the the best in its class, check it out:)

    http://www.faststone.org/index.htm

  • Max
    • Samer Kurdi

      @ Max: thanks for the tip about these. Will try them out!

      • Max

        No problem Samer, thanks for your great website. I forgot to mention that all those are, or have, portable versions. Although some of them create folders in Appdata/Roaming, so they aren´t 100% portable. First one I can remember is Pictus, creates a “Poppeman” folder. But since it´s Pictus, I forgive it haha.. WildBit Viewer also creates a folder in Appdata/Local and Program Data, so that one is not even close to being almost 100% portable =)

  • Emerald Scales

    Have a look at xnview (supports pretty much every format – including multiplatform and old computer/console – out there and even has a built in audio/video player!), and there’s irfanview.

  • Jazzdoc

    I use CoolUtils Photo Viewer http://www.coolutils.com/PhotoViewer and I really like it for its simplicity and a limited number of options. Besides, I use it to view raw images as well

  • el

    hi, this is a nice list, thanks! im looking for a light organizer that would support tagging/keywords in xmp/ipct and rating. possibly with some basic editing like cropping etc. does any of these do that?