Browse, convert, edit, and watermark images with FastStone Image Viewer

With all of the hype I have heard lately about FastStone Capture, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about another great program from FastStone – FastStone Image Viewer.

What is it and what does it do

FastStone Image Viewer is a freeware program from FastStone that is an image browser, converter, and editor that supports all major graphic formats including BMP, JPEG, JPEG 2000, GIF, PNG, PCX, TIFF, WMF, ICO, TGA, and camera raw files. Think of it as a replacement for Windows Photo Viewer with the added benefits of converting and editing.

Publisher’s Description

FastStone Image Viewer is a fast, stable, user-friendly image browser, converter and editor. It has a nice array of features that include image viewing, management, comparison, red-eye removal, emailing, resizing, cropping, retouching and color adjustments. Its innovative but intuitive full-screen mode provides quick access to EXIF information, thumbnail browser and major functionalities via hidden toolbars that pop up when your mouse touches the four edges of the screen. Other features include a high quality magnifier and a musical slideshow with 150+ transitional effects, as well as lossless JPEG transitions, drop shadow effects, image annotation, scanner support, histogram and much more. It supports all major graphic formats (BMP, JPEG, JPEG 2000, animated GIF, PNG, PCX, PSD, EPS, TIFF, WMF, ICO and TGA) and popular digital camera RAW formats (CRW, CR2, NEF, PEF, RAF, MRW, ORF, SRF, ARW, SR2, RW2 and DNG).


  • Image browser and viewer with a familiar Windows Explorer-like user interface
  • Support of many popular image formats:

  • True Full Screen viewer with image zoom support and unique fly-out menu panels
  • Crystal-clear and customizable one-click image magnifier
  • Powerful image editing tools: Resize/resample, rotate/flip, crop, sharpen/blur, adjust lighting/colors/curves/levels etc.
  • Eleven re-sampling algorithms to choose from when resizing images
  • Image color effects: gray scale, sepia, negative, Red/Green/Blue adjustment
  • Image special effects: annotation, drop shadow, framing, bump map, sketch, oil painting, lens
  • Draw texts, lines, highlights, rectangles, ovals and callout objects on images
  • Clone Stamp and Healing Brush
  • Superior Red-Eye effect removal/reduction with completely natural looking end result
  • Multi-level Undo/Redo capability
  • One-touch best fit/actual size image display support
  • Image management, including tagging capability, with drag-and-drop and Copy To/Move To Folder support
  • Histogram display with color counter feature
  • Compare images side-by-side (up to 4 at a time) to easily cull those forgettable shots
  • Image EXIF metadata support (plus comment editing for JPEGs)
  • Configurable batch processing to convert/rename large or small collections of images
  • Slideshow creation with 150+ transition effects and music support (MP3, WMA, WAV…)
  • Create efficient image attachment(s) for emailing to family and friends
  • Print images with full page-layout control
  • Create fully configurable Contact Sheets
  • Create memorable artistic image montages from your family photos for personalized desktop wallpapers (Wallpaper Anywhere)
  • Acquire images from scanner. Support batch scanning to PDF, TIFF, JPEG and PNG
  • Versatile screen capture capability
  • Powerful Save As interface to compare image quality and control generated file size
  • Run favorite programs with one keystroke from within Image Viewer
  • Offer portable version of the program which can be run from a removable storage device
  • Configurable mouse wheel support
  • Support multiple program skins
  • Support dual-monitor configurations
  • And much more…

Getting Started with FastStone Image Viewer

I’ve been using FastStone Image Viewer for quite some time now and I really enjoy its features and easy-to-use interface. When you first open Image Viewer, it loads a screen with a navigational panel on the left, and the directory/folder on the right in thumbnail style. On this screen you have a Control Bar, Toolbar, Menu Bar, Folder Tree Window, Preview Window, Information Bars, and Thumbnail Window. To find images, simply navigate to the desired directory via the Folder Tree Window and click on the directory to see all the images/photos in the folder in the Thumbnail Window. Directories or folders can be expanded by clicking the + sign next to them.

Once you open the desired directory or folder, you can select an image from the Thumbnail Window to browse, convert, or edit. Simply right-clicking on the picture from Thumbnail Window allows you to perform a multitude of different functions. Some of these functions include:

  • Start a slide show
  • Edit
  • Colors
  • Effects
  • Email
  • Print
  • Image properties
  • And much more

How to Manage and Work With Digital Images

Viewing Images

In addition to the Thumbnail View, you can view your images in:

  • Full Screen View
  • Windowed View
  • Compare Selected Images View
  • Several variations of these views

There are advantages to each of these views and it is easy to switch between them. To select a particular view, simply go to settings and then click on the viewer tab to set your preferences:

Tag Images

You can tag and untag images but note tagging is available only in the following views:

  • Thumbnails View
  • Window View
  • Full Screen View
  • Comparator Normal Views
  • Comparator Full Screen View

To tag an image, select the image, right-click it, and select the Tag/Untag option from the right-click menu:

Manage Images (Cut, Paste, Copy, and Delete)

FastStone interface makes performing cut, paste, copy, and delete similar to Windows Explorer, by using:

  • Menu commands
  • Icons
  • Shortcut menus (right click to display them)
  • Shortcut keys
  • Click and drag or right click and drag

Managing an image is as easy as selecting it and then right-clicking it to bring up the menu commands:

Crop Images

FastStone Image Viewer allows users to crop images. To crop an image:

  • Click on the image to select it.
  • Click on the Crop Board icon from the Options Bar and the Crop Board will appear:

  • Set the Paper Ratio to what you desire and the cropping marquee will automatically adjust so that it has the correct aspect ratio for a size of paper you selected.
  • If you want to change the size of the crop, use the corner handles of the cropping marquee to click and drag to change the size – the correct aspect ratio will be maintained.
  • If you want to move the cropping marquee to another part of the image, just click inside of the marquee and drag it to a new location.

Edit Images

With the editing function, you can resize/resample, rotate/flip, crop, sharpen/blur, adjust lighting/colors/curves/levels, plus much more.

To edit image…

  • Open the image in the Full Screen View
  • Point to the left side of the screen and a popup menu will appear
  • In the Adjustments section, click on the type of adjustment that you want and a dialog box will appear
  • Click on the Reset button to reset the adjustment to no adjustments
  • Make any adjustments that you want to make
  • Click on the Hold Down To See Original Image button to see the effect of the adjustments
  • When you are satisfied with your adjustments, click on the OK button and the Full Screen View will show the effects of the adjustments
  • Make any additional editing adjustments that you want to make following the same steps including clicking on the OK button when you are finish with each set of adjustments
  • Save the changes
  • Double click on the image to return to the browser – if you saved the image to a different folder and/or changed the image name, the thumbnail for the original image will not have been affected by the changes

The Draw Board

The Draw Board allows you to “draw” on images — you can add text, graphics, waters, etc.

To use the Draw Board on an image:

  • Click on a thumbnail in the Thumbnail Window to select it
  • Open the Draw Board via either Edit (from the menu bar at the top) -> Draw Board or pressing D on your keyboard
  • Once the Draw Board is open, use the button bar on the left to access its features:

Other Functionality

There are many additional functions and tasks you can perform with FastStone Image Viewer that I have not discussed above, such as:

  • Convert images to different image formats
  • Add watermark to images (including batch support)
  • Batch rename images
  • Email images
  • Print images
  • Add frames to photos
  • Print contact sheets
  • Create wallpaper for on your desktop
  • Slideshows
  • Use the Multi-Page File Builder to create animated GIFs, TIFFs, & PDFs
  • And much, much more

Conclusion and Download Links

FastStone Image viewer is an excellent program for working with images. I find it to be feature filled and extremely easy to use. Its features range from simple to advanced, allow you to do practically anything you need to with your images; and best of all its free for home and educational users (business users must purchase license) and has a portable version, for those that don’t like installers. While I have not used every single imaging software out there, I’ve found that FastStone Image Viewer has been able to do everything I have needed to do with images. I’m sure if you give it a shot it will please you just the same.

You can grab FastStone Image Viewer from the links below:

Version reviewed: 4.6

Supported OS: Windows 98/Me/2000/XP/Vista/Server 2008/Win7

Download size: 5.1 MB

Malware scan: VirusTotal scan results (0/43)

FastStone Image Viewer homepage

[Direct download – installer]

[Direct download – portable]

[Some screenshots in this article were taken by FastStone Soft, others by Copyright-free.]

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  1. kevbo

    [@Tim Turner]

    Right clicking on image or selected images produces a menu with ‘Move to Folder (M)’ or ‘Copy to Folder (C)’ options.

    To drag and drop: select image(s), drag and drop to desired new location. The desired result of this drag and drop action can be changed: from Settings on the main menu (F12), on ‘Viewer” tab on right side of menu is a setting for ‘Drag Files to Folder Tree’ with drop down choices ‘Move Files if on Same Disk’, ‘Always Move Files’, or ‘Always Copy Files’. Choose your weapon and OK.

  2. Tim Turner

    You claim you can right click and drag in Fast Stone , please tell me how you do that? That’s the only reason I don’t use the program all the time, I can only right click view expanded menu, not drag. I need to be able to right click, drag and copy.

  3. Rocky Squirrel

    Can a previously-created slideshow be edited (i.e. images inserted, removed, rearranged, etc.), or must one start over? If so, where in the menu(s) are the required commands?

    Can a voice-over be added that can co-exist with a music track? If so, where in the menu(s) are the required commands?

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  7. Mardel53

    I agree with you but when cropping a picture without using Snip-it you get that square crop. Snip it allows just what you crop and thus, I can insert the snip-it into other pictures without a square crop.

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  9. Mardel53

    @Paul D:
    Yes if you re-read my comment up above the whole purpose was to eliminate the usual square crop on pictures. Irfanview does not do what the snipping tool does; since I went from xp to Win7Pro, I have no idea what Vista had or has. That is why I am excited about the snipping tool feature! Cropping a square allows for too much wasted space for an icon and the snipping tool allows for exactly what you want when cropping! Thanks!

  10. Paul D

    @Mardel53:? There is no question above

    The snipping tool was also in Vista

    You could always do that in Irfanview anyway. PrtScr key > paste into IrfanView > crop/resize etc in IrfanView > save as any of a number of formats.

    I make icons for my music folders that way. Download or scan album cover (as jpg), then resize and save as .ico.

  11. Mardel53

    Since I wrote my question above, I purchased a Win7Pro desktop computer. The snipit tool is exactly what I was looking for and I totally love this feature that is provided free with this new desktop. It allows for cutting around what you want in a picture and I now use Irfanivew to save it as an ico file and I then can use it for my icons on my desktop!

  12. Gerard


    I tried to check. Indeed, FastStone browser does not see the hidden images, but it can open them.
    For instance, using TotalCommander in place of Windows Explorer:
    – you can easily open hidden images with FastStone (just drag the hidden file on the FastStone Image Reader icon)
    – you immediately see if the images have the hidden state (their icon change in a question mark)
    – you have a smart interface to change the files attributes
    Screen copy here:

  13. Paul

    @Paul: Solved that one.

    Nearly all my images were copied back from an external backup after a Windows reinstall, and came back with the Hidden attribute set. That doesn’t worry IrfanView, but it does worry Faststone. But the good old DOS Attrib command fixed that.

  14. Dell

    I am also a long-time of Irfanview and Faststone. I have used Irfanview longer than Faststone. I use Faststone because of the frames it has for the pictures which is better than Irfanview; I like Irfanview for the features that it has maintained throughout the years and what it does with its updates. With that being said, I was wondering if anyone knows of a program (maybe free?) that allowes you to cut out faces/objects by actually cutting around the object you want rather than the usual square you get out of the above programs for cropping? Hallmark Card Studio has this feather but I cannot find a way to save the image that I cut out. Any suggestions? Thanks

  15. Paul

    I’ve been a happy IrfanView user for many years, but I thought I’d try this. Not for long, if the following is any indication. Faststone’s browser simply doesn’t recognise most of my jpegs. It simply keeps on telling me “No supported files in the selected folder”. These are all images that IrfanView recognises, sourced from all over the place – internet, off camera etc over many years. Not a great first impression.

  16. smaragdus

    All FastStone products are excellent, FastStone MaxView is my favourite image viewer, Faststone Image Viewer- my favourite image browser, FastStone Photo Resizer- my favourite resizer, converter and watermarker and FastStone Capture- my favourite graphic capturer. The quality of all these tools is exceptional and FastStone applications deserve to buy them.

  17. FREDB

    LOVE THIS. Used to have to load GIMP or PHOTOSHOP to review/look at my RAY pics – each of those take a long time to load. FASTSTONE loads in seconds & lets me do the simple adjustments. Thanks for the heads-up on this program, Ashraf (liked your excellents & honest reviews on GAOTD for many years too & glad to see you back) – FredB

  18. Craig

    This program has a lot to offer for the money, or lack there of. Downloading was a breeze from the direct download site. I tried just a few pics just to see what it does and it does a lot! Its color, brightness, contrast, shadow adjustments are wonderful. You can have a before and after picture right next to each other or if you want just a full frame there is a button that allows you to toggle between a before and after edit. This is a got to have program!

  19. Paul

    @Ashraf: OK.

    I NEVER use direct download links, because I always like to see what the author site says about the software before I download (no disrespect to your reviews intended).

    If you go to the Faststone home page the primary download site is CNet. The secondary is Faststone, but let’s face it, 90% of visitors will use the primary. I make no apologies for continuing to campaign against CNet.