Vjpeg: view image files on the desktop as objects


Vjpeg is a fast, lightweight free image viewing program designed to open “images as objects”, such that they are draggable on the desktop and not placed within a program window.

We are so accustomed to images opening in application windows that this viewer at first feels so .. unusual. In fact there is something so pleasing about manipulating images on the desktop as objects, most notably the ability to place them side by side for simultaneous viewing, which might come in handy if you need to, say, compare or contrast a number of images.

The developer writes about his motivation in creating this viewer in terms of viewing large files (the program makes them large images smaller but allows for instant resizing).

Here are more notes on this program:

  • How it works: click on an image file and it will open as a draggable object on the desktop. Right click to close the picture. Note that Vjpeg provides for layered images whereby images can overlap or can be moved on top of each other or other windows.
  • Changing image size: left-clicking on the image moving it towards (and then away from) any of the four edges resizes it (actually very easy to get the hang of). Double clicking on an image enlarges to actual size or maximizes full screen if the image is larger than the screen.
  • Supported filetypes: becomes the default viewer for JPG, BMP, and GIF; can also open Photoshop PSD but the author does not make it the default viewer for that format. Does NOT support PNG, unfortunately.
  • Keyboard Shortcuts/manipulations: the arrow keys rotate images clockwise/counter-clockwise by 90 degrees. Pressing (e) emails the original file, while (E) emails the bits of the image on screen (i.e. a compressed image). For color auto-levels press (a), while CTRL-alt-Q closes all open images. CTRL+0 through 3 resizes images, and CTRL+plus/minus enlarges/makes smaller; Alt+enter = maximize to the edges of the screen.
  • Installation: the installer will install in C:’Windows and provide an uninstall entry in add/remove programs.

Wish list:

  • The ability to invoke this program through a combination of mouse and keyboard shortcut, such as left clicking an image while holding down (shift), and otherwise having another image viewer function as the default viewer for the system. I realize this is unusual but surely it is possible.
  • PNG filetype support.
  • A way to scroll through images in a single display that are in the same folder, such as page up/page down and or as using the mouse scroll wheel.
  • Seems to affect video file associations; I had to go to my media player (The KMPlayer) and re-associate media files.

The verdict: I really like this program because it is simple, innovative, and original, and because it provides a great user experience (dragging images around on the screen as objects is really rather cool). My advice: use this as your default image viewer and for all other image manipulation/editing functions (e.g. resizing, rotating, cropping, etc) use the fantastic Photoscape (or see this post for other freeware image manipulation options).

Version Tested: n/a.

Compatibility: WinAll.

Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 138K).

  • daany

    Osiva is a better alternative and it’s portable.


  • Radrick

    I really like Vjpeg. Just this week I was wondering if it was possible to do just this.

    Thanks for all the info you provide here. FreewareGenius is a must read for me!

  • Joe

    Thanks, daany: Osiva blows this away! It’s only 220 KB, it doesn’t need installation (so it doesn’t automatically make itself the default) viewer, it’s much easier to use, and it has several options for manipulating groups of images into a layout (and saving layouts, if desired).

    It only supports jpeg and gif files, but jpeg is all I need.

  • Ranne

    I was reluctant to try these two but I decided to give them a quick try. A brief encounter with Osiva left me rather calm (it might be that brown interface, who knows), but I ended up associating .JPG and .BMP with Vjpeg. Even though I won’t be uninstalling any of my more advanced image viewers and editors any time soon, Vjpeg seems to be perfect for most of my image previewing needs. Good find.

  • blogward

    vjpeg gets my vote – that Osiva interface is just so ‘free with PC weekly!’. I put a shortcut in my
    ‘Documents and Settings/My Account/Sendto’ folder to vjpeg and it’s handy for sticking pics on the desktop temporarily without having annoying app frames everywhere. Keeper so far! And FileMenuTools will allow custom shell menu association…

  • Vlad

    The program looks nice, but there is one thing which is missing for me – Next\Previous controls.
    Usually, when I view the photos from my camera I have more then one, and I use irfanview and scroll wheel of my mouse to go back or forward….

    Other than that it is really nice and a new concept…

  • Womble

    What’s the motivation behind installing to C:\Windows? To me this directory is for storing Windows components, third party tools belong in Program Files surely?

  • vince

    the bad stuff with vjpeg is that the soft open a process (5-6 Mo) for EACH images you double-click…

  • Centaur Machine

    I’ve always liked the minimal interfaces of some of these light viewers.

    Unfortunately, I see no way to crop the view to a specific part. For example, if you want to display several images side by side, you get the full image for each.

    So I like First Impressions viewer better. Two issues I had with that program is that every time you launch it, you have to set it to fit to screen, otherwise it will launch huge images that don’t fit on the screen and you have to zoom out each one. All it would need is a registry setting for that.

    The other issue I had with First Impressions is that the mouse scroll wheel is redundant feature. Instead, it should cycle through the images in the same folder.

    Google image viewer is fantastic, but you can’t view more than one image at a time, so it’s useless for me.

    I’ll be sticking with (Corel)Ulead Instant Viewer 8.5. It’s a little slower/heavier, but it has everything I need.

    My only two gripes with this software is that a) it has the title bar. Really a minor gripe. b)The other issue with it is there is that the shortcut to close the program is a key combination. Esc would make it perfect.

    It’s really a great program. After trying dozens of image viewers at any price, it’s the best one out there.

    I haven’t tried to see if it has the same viewer as the one I described, but you can get Ulead PHOTOIMPACT Instant Viewer 4.0 for free here:


    or here:


  • Centaur Machine

    I’m sorry, I made a mistake in the comment before this. My gripe with Ulead Instant Viewer (which comes as a part of Ulead Photo Explorer or Photo Explosion Deluxe) that it doesn’t close the image with Esc. Actually it does close the image with Esc, so I wanted to make a correction.

    What I meant to say is that I wish there was a single key to maximize the photo to full screen. Instead it is Ctrl+U. For me this combo requires two hands. My keyboard only has one Ctrl button and it’s on the left side.

    Anyway, it’s a great viewer and supports a large amount of image types.

    I’m using version 8.5 at the moment, but like I said in the previous comment, give it a try and see if you can’t get the free image viewer with Photoimpact 4.0 freeware. I think you can but I haven’t checked. As far as I can tell, the image viewer has changed very very little over the years.

  • Centaur Machine

    I just wanted to say that you can also make it full screen with the right click menu.

    Very sorry for the triple post.