Windows has an image previewer built in to its file explorer, but many users find it lumbering and cumbersome. Here are alternatives I found when looking for a superior replacement.
One of Microsoft’s better ideas was to build a lightweight image previewer into the file explorer. The first incarnation, in Windows 95, was a model of what a previewer should be: instantaneous, unobtrusive, and able to pass an image to a more full-featured application for editing or collection management. Alas, feature creep set in, and recent mutations are so frustratingly slow that they are pointless to use.
So I searched for an image previewer for my Windows-using clients that:
- quickly previews a wide variety of image formats even on low-spec hardware
- is open source and multiplatform
- is under active development, or at least isn’t abandonware
- is localized into Spanish (my users’ language)
- does not try to be an image editor or collection manager, but can easily pass an image to such applications
The last point is why bloatware like Picassa doesn’t make my list. Not fast enough to be a useful previewer and not powerful enough to replace Photoshop or The Gimp, it has no place on any computer I administer.
You would think that it would be easy to find applications that meet these modest criteria. But no; I found not a single app that meets them all. What follows are those few applications I found that approach them. I certainly hope this meager list is incomplete. If you know of a previewer that better meets my criteria, please leave a comment below.
Ekspos: Open source. Java. Installation instructions included in installer package; no other documentation. Email support available. No way to pass an image to another application, such as an image editor. Not localized.
GQview: Open source and multiplatform. GTK. No activity since 2006 and troublesome to install on later versions of Windows. Very lightweight. Has an outstanding user interface and feature set; can easily pass an image to any installed program or script. Unknown if Windows version has been localized into Spanish.
Imgv: Open source. Python/Glade. No activity since 2006. Unknown if localized into Spanish.
IrfanView: Proprietary; no charge for noncommercial use. Under active development. Localized into Spanish and other languages (language packs downloaded separately). Plugins available for additional formats and features, but most users need no more than the lightweight base install. Available as a Portable App. My current choice.
Open Image Manager: Open source. C#. No activity since 2006. Localized into Spanish and other languages.