[Windows] 12 free image viewers or organizers (Windows Photo Viewer alternatives)

Windows comes with built-in capability to view images. However, that built-in image viewer has many limitations such as the inability to view animated GIFs, inability to crop images, inability to easily share images aside from via email, inability to convert images, etc. To solve the woes of Windows Photo Viewer, there are many third-party image viewers or organizers out there that you can download. This article lists 12 free image viewers or image organizers for you to pick from.

12 FREE IMAGE VIEWERS OR ORGANIZERS

Picasa (Organizer + Viewer)

2013-02-15_233516

JPEGView (Viewer)

jpegview

kuView (Viewer)

kuview

ACDSee Free (Viewer)

acdseefree

Imagina (Viewer)

2013-02-15_233529

NexusImage (Viewer)

nexusimage

Zoner Photo Studio FREE (Organizer + Viewer)

zoner_photo_studio_free

XnView (Organizer + Viewer)

xnview

IrfanView (Viewer)

2013-02-15_232644

FastStone Image Viewer (Organizer + Viewer)

faststone_image_viewer

WildBit Viewer (Viewer)

wildbit_viewer

Osiva (Viewer)

osiva

WHICH ONE IS THE BEST?

Before I dish out my advice, let me confess that image viewers/organizers are not what I would consider an area of expertise for myself. So I’m depending on all you dotTechies to chime in the comments below to provide better feedback than myself. With that being said…

My top three picks out of the above-mentioned twelve are IrfanView, Zoner Photo Studio FREE, and FastStone Image Viewer simply because all three are feature-filled and easy-to-use at the same time. Out of these three, in my opinion the clear winner for image viewer is IrfanView while the winner for image organizer is Zoner Photo Studio FREE.

IrfanView doesn’t have a very fancy interface but the interface is decluttered which makes the program not only dead-simple to use but also makes it light on resources (relatively speaking)… all while maintaining an insane amount of features ranging from support for dozens of image, audio, and video formats (including animated GIFs and Photoshop PSDs), basic image editing, image conversion capabilities with batch processing, unicode support, and much more. To top it off, IrfanView is true freeware (free for all use, home and business) plus has a portable version you can download (although the portable version isn’t native, it is through PortableApps).

Zoner Photo Studio Free, on the other hand, is an image organizer that not only helps you organize your images but also has basic editing and sharing features. Very handy for those that work a lot with images.

CONCLUSION AND DOWNLOAD LINKS

If you are tired of Windows Photo Viewer or work with a lot of images, then the software mentioned above are here to help. Hit up the links below to download your favorite one and enjoy!

Picasa homepage

JPEGView homepage

kuView homepage

ACDSee Free homepage | dotTech review of ACDSee Free

Imagina homepage

NexusImage homepage

XnView homepage

WildBit Viewer homepage

Osiva homepage | dotTech review of Osiva

Zoner Photo Studio FREE homepage

FastStone Image Viewer homepage | dotTech review of FastStone Image Viewer

IrfanView homepage

[Some screenshots are via developers]

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37 comments

  1. Treegreenrock

    [@Kent] CoolUtils Photo Viewer is just a viewer and it is not intended for converting images. There is a separate program by CoolUtils out there, which converts images to a variety of formats – Total Image Converter. I’ve tried InfanView and I can say it is one of my favorite converters too

  2. Mr.Dave

    [@Bob] I also like Zoner Photo Studio, but still keep coming back to Picassa – it’s easy to use and has a lot of horespower under the hood. If I need more editing than Picassa offers, my favorite by far is Serif’s Photo Plus. It’s been my go-to photo editor for over 15 years now. Not free but it’s given away once in a while. Still much less expensive than Adobe products, and quite a lot of power. Steep learning curve (but I hear that’s a feature of Adobe products as well!).

  3. Bob

    [@Mr.Dave]

    Thanks – just what I needed. I have to validate where the photos are on my hard drive, and found by clicking properties I can see what folder they are in. Bob

    Other comments:
    Your tip caused me to search “Picasa and duplicates” and low and behold I found a link to a post https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!searchin/picasa/chrisguld/picasa/BGWUATcj8Kw/ODTX5v15VwgJ that describes some details. Picasa is my first step in my processing steps (import to 00-transfer then remove unwanted then straighten). A site I check every so often is http://picasageeks.com/ for Picasa tips and reminders. One final question: If you use a second editing software/program – what do you use. I have Photoshop Elements 10 and Zoner and finding Zoner to be THE BEST for organizing folders and images … as well as editing.

    Mr. Dave – thank you again!

  4. ali

    I’d like an image viewer that can show images in the order presently applied in their folder. For example, assume I’ve sorted images by their size. When I open an image with the viewer and hit the arrow key to show the next/previous image, what I expect is that the next/previous image in size order is displayed rather than in alphabetical order. Most image viewers I’ve tried so far, don’t consider the way images are presently ordered in the folder (by creation date, by type, by date taken, etc.), they show them in alphabetical order. So far, the only viewers that act as I expect are: Windows Photo Viewer and Picasa. Another nice thing of Picasa is that you can zoom in and out using up and down arrow keys. To conclude, I vote to Picasa as the best viewer :)

  5. Mountainking

    No offense meant Ashraf. Continue your great work! GOTD sure was boring w/o your reviews!

    I just wanted to point it out in case less experienced users would make their choice on the above offerings. I also offered a brief guideline on what they should look for :)

  6. Bob

    OK, you are sending me off to and island with a camera, tele-lens, PC and a choice of two photo tools and I would choose 1) focus on and use basic digital photography techniques – rule of thirds, composition, aperture and shutter controls, 2) install Picasa for quick and easy photo ‘editing’ and 3) install Zoner for photo organizing and management (and maybe some editing Picasa cannot do) … and 4) Google+ for photo sharing.

  7. Mountainking

    Image viewers and image viewers + organisers are two different beasts.

    I would think breaking it down in two different categories makes more sense.

    As to which image viewer would suit someone’s need, there are many factors to considered.
    – How fast program loads. (Bloated vs lightweight)
    – User interface (usually a deal maker/breaker for me)
    – Does it meet your needs in terms of image formats?
    – Does it allow for minimal (decent) image retouching (color, saturation, brightness etc)
    – Does it allow lossless rotation?
    – Useful additional tools such as batch converter, resizer, etc)

    Having considered all these and having used acdsee before, given irfanview, zoner, picasa, xnview and many more a try, I can say that faststone viewer gets my recommendation.
    However, the new xnview is a serious contender and might soon become my defacto viewer. (faststone has slow updates cycle)

  8. kevbo

    I work with lots of photos on a daily basis, but my needs are relatively simple. I need a nimble viewer that can handle light editing, some simple annotating of photos, tagging, and batch conversion. I was an IrfanView user for a long time, but it started to go buggy on me also. I too switched to FastStone, which I prefer over IrfanView, even when it worked correctly. I will be trying out a few of the suggestions here, but FastStone will be tough to beat, IMHO.

    [@Janet] FastStone Image Viewer has the same annotating tools as FastoneCapture. Annotations can be modified before the new, annotated image is saved. Once it is saved the annotations are part of the photo and cannot be edited, so that may not suit your needs. When I need to do that and more advanced editing, one of the graphics programs I use is Hornil Stylepix:
    http://hornil.com/en/downloads/.
    I find it relatively light and very easy to use.

  9. Sal Monella

    Used IrfanView for years, now for some reason it quit working. Accepts commands but doesn’t obey them, that is, when I go look at the edited picture, all the usual things I told IV to do: crop. rotate, etc., it didn’t do them. No time for troubleshooting; went to FastStone; never a problem.

  10. BearPup

    [@Ashraf] I, too, have Photoshop on my computer as it was my default image editor for years. Then I tried Photo Designer 7 and found it did everything that Photoshop did that I needed. At some point, I will ‘clean up’ my computer (as I periodically do) and probably dump Photoshop. Still, thats 2 programs to do photo editing, not 5!

    Similarly, I have just 2 text editing programs (an office suite and a plain text editor), 1 clipboard utility, 2 browsers, etc. . I just find it simpler and easier on my computer’s performance to keep the number of programs down to a relatively few.

    The only exception are my security programs, where I have my antivirus, firewall, antilogger, 2 on-demand spyware scanners, 4 browser plug-ins (Do Not Track Me, Web of Trust, etc.) and a secure search engine. Can’t be too careful!

  11. BearPup

    [@Janet] I thought the point of this article was that “Windows comes with built-in capability to view images.”. My point was that, “for a simple viewer, I still like the Windows 7 Photo Viewer.”.

    So I repeat myself, but, to simply, only, do nothing but view images, I use Windows 7 Photo Viewer. If I want to do anything else, I use another program.

  12. Janet

    To OTTER and BEARPUB:

    I have many programs that can add annotations. The idea was to find a single, simple program for image viewing (NOT IMAGE EDITING!) which allows for simple annotations (like circling a single object within the image) without having to open another program. In other words, a program like Kodak Imaging, which was the Windows default image viewer for many years, or XP’s default (Windows) image viewer which replaced it. Windows 7 is the first Windows version that does not have a viewer-annotator.

  13. BearPup

    @otter: I use PicPick as my screenshot (capture) tool. Never used it for anything else. I tend to use one tool for one function and leave it at that. I have enough apps on my computer as it is, I’d hate to start having several apps to do the same thing – 5 apps to do the same editing job, phew, your computer must be drowning in applications.

  14. otter

    @Janet: Have you tried PicPick? It is really a set of small tools that are handy to use in conjunction with other graphics programs but one of the tools is a simple image editor that has quite good annotation features.

    I use it mainly for its capture tool but some of the measuring tools and the magnifier are useful at times. You can set it to open with Windows and minimize to the system tray so it is always quickly available to use.

    For general Graphics work I have used Irfanview for nearly 20 years (and I do not recall it ever being called anything else in all that time). You do not have to use Portable Apps to make it portable. There is an option in the installer to install it anywhere, including on a USB stick, and you can put the initialization file in the same folder and then use it on any computer that runs Windows.

    I do use Faststone and Zoner at times too, and for special purposes Photo! Editor and FotoMix. They all have their uses.

  15. BearPup

    @Janet: Sorry. A viewer is just that, a viewer. I look, I like or not, I move on to the next. Anything else is left to my editor.

    If I want to change anything – image, annotations, even the name – it goes to my editing program. The viewer is to answer one simple question: is there enough there to be worth putting any time into doing something with it? Or it can let me see the results of my efforts: do I like it enough to keep it? To me, that keeps it (shrug of shoulders) neat, clean, simple. And my answers are also simple: yes, maybe, no.

  16. BearPup

    Actually for a simple viewer, I still like the Windows 7 Photo Viewer. It produces clean, clear, large pictures that I can ‘scan’ through quickly and decide which ones I like and put those over into my photo editor (Photo Designer 7 by Xara). I leave editing to my editing program and viewing to the voewer.

  17. Janet

    I have never managed to find an image viewer like the old Kodak Imaging, which was the Windows image viewer up till XP. It was just a viewer AND ANNOTATOR (squares, circles, lines, etc.). You could easily select the annotations to EDIT them. It was replaced by the new Windows Photo Viewer, which also had (editable?) annotation features. Now the Windows viewer does not have ANY annotation features.

    Since the demise of Kodak Imaging, I have been using Irfanview as my default viewer for everything (except proprietary formats). But it’s annotator does not allow any editing of annotations (like changing line color or thickness). I use CorelDraw or Photoshop for annotating images, but would love a SIMPLE image viewer with SIMPLE editable annotations (of the sort that FastoneCapture has). Do any of the above fill this description (simple, limited, but with EDITABLE annotations)?

    Many thanks.

  18. Dave

    I’ve been using FastStone Image Viewer and Zone Photo Studio for a few years now. They are both very good.
    But after reading the review (thanks Ashraf for all your great reviews) and the comments I decided to go ahead and try XnView for now. (Just installed a new HD and Win7)
    Was tempted by a couple others and PICTOMIO is really tempting but seems to lack some core editing features based on what I read on their features page. It’s really hard to pick a photo editor. There are so many options.
    Thanks
    Dave

  19. AFPhys

    I’ve been using IrfanView since before it was called that… I believe it was simply iView.exe.

    In addition to the editing that is sufficient for most of my needs, I really like the view “thumbnails” for a directory, from which I can select certain pictures and immediately display them as an impromptu slideshow. Can also create (and save) a more permanent slideshow file in a different way.

    The only times I use some another image viewer are the few times I would like a different display (like XNView) or the few times I would like to add circle/arrow/balloon captions to a picture.

  20. Mr.Dave

    XnView is my favorite also. Great for screen captures (on a timer, or press a key of your choice), it’s got great batch processing features, it’s fast, it’s good for a slide show, viewing pics, managing them, and handles many types of editing including crop, lossless 90-degree rotation, adjust gamma/contrast/brightness, filters to add blur or sharpen edges or invert…. Unless I need to draw on a picture or do some other localized editing, XnView has handled most of my image handling needs for many years!

  21. EleventhHour

    XNview is my pick.
    I’ve tried 5 and never even heard of all the others.
    After trying many programs, I settled on XNview and I think it’s the best.
    Everyone raves about Irfanview and Faststone but I’ve always found something off with them.

  22. Jeanjean

    My choice since my first PC : XnView.
    It is true that my needs in this area are also limited.
    It supports in particular animated gif and powerpoint presentations.

    @Poema : Pictomio is a professional software and requires a powerful machine.

  23. Poema

    I’m a professional photo seller. You forgot the awesome free one, named PICTOMIO. Here are some of its features :
    – Image Management (I use it for my 65 000+ photos)
    – Image rating
    – EXIF Editor
    – Library
    – Albums mamagement
    – Smooth Image Browsing
    – Liquid Zoom (high quality zoom with mouse or keyboard)
    – 3D Image Carousel, fantastic !
    – Integrated Slideshow, yeah !
    – Tagging support
    – Video and audio playback
    – GEOTAG, wow !
    – Mapview and even Tripview
    – Upload to a few websites (Flickr, Facebook…)

    I would PAY FOR IT !

    http://www.pictomio.com/Default.aspx?LangLCID=1033

  24. jacal

    For many years I have been using Irfan as my primary viewer and – lately – Zoner (pro) as secondary.
    It is worth to spend some time learning Irfan’s features, shortcuts etc. I use it for some basic editing, batch renaming/converting, screen capturing, scanning, launching other programs and so on. And it is almost as fast as notepad.
    Zoner is not fast enough for a primary viewer, but one of the most capable free viewers/editors you can get. (I use the pro version because of some additional RAW editing features). It might be even used for metadata editing, although I only trust Exiftool (GUI) for that. Picasa, on the other side, is known to not handle metadata properly.