FastStone Image Viewer: Your images, your way

FastStone Image Viewer is a free image editor with an impressive range of features for image management, conversion and editing delivered in a user-friendly format. It supports all major image formats, contains the basic set of editing tools but also other features such as image special effects, slideshow creation, screen capture function and then some more.

Installation and Requirements

You’ll probably be glad to find out that FastStone Image Viewer is actually donationware, thus its install process is completely adware-free. Moreover it’s blazing fast and all you can do is change the default install folder.

Even if this is a feature-rich image editor, its system requirements are very accessible: FastStone Image Viewer works on Windows 98SE, ME and both 32 and 64-bit versions of Windows XP, Vista and 7. You will also need at least 256 MB RAM and 10 MB free hard drive space.

Interface

FastStone Image Viewer comes with an abundance of features that could overcrowd an interface. Fortunately, its interface strongly resembles Windows Explorer so it will allow you to easily browse your image collection and locate the program’s options.

The top menu lists all the major categories such as File, Edit, Colors, Effects…etc., each of them with a related sub-menu. Right below there is an icon-based menu with shortcuts to frequently used functions such as photo downloader, open/save, navigation, resize, rotate, adjust lightning and others.

Just like in Windows Explorer the left column displays a tree view of your computer’s drives and folders and the main area shows the actual files and folders with a related icon menu at its top. Just as expected, all images have thumbnail previews and a comprehensive right-click menu.

You might be surprised the first time you open an image with FastStone Image Viewer. You will see the image in full screen but there will be no menus or options displayed. In fact, the menus are hidden and they only appear when you move your mouse cursor towards the edges of the screen. There are four menus in total: the upper menu shows thumbnails of all the images in the currently selected folder so you can easily switch to another one without leaving the full screen view. The menu on the right contains major functions divided into four categories: “File & Slideshow”, “Rotation, Resize and Text”, “Colors” and “Effects”. The bottom menu displays the Control Bar (also present below the top menu in the program’s interface) and the left menu contains image properties.

Even if the interface definitely lacks style, the fact that it’s so similar with Windows Explorer allows even new users to get the hang of it in no time and the full screen view is an elegant way to enable image editing without being forced to return to the programs main window.

Pros

– Great support for a wide range of image formats, including JPEG, BMP, GIF, PNG, TIFF, PSD, EPS, ICO and others.

– Supports RAW image formats from all major digital camera manufacturers.

– Provides an extensive list of options for image management, editing, enhancement and batch processing.

– The full screen mode comes with a friendly and efficient menu system.

Cons

– The icons present within the interface are small and have low contrast which makes most of them hard to view.

Alternatives

FastStone Image Viewer offers so much at no cost whatsoever and it can easily be compared with plenty of commercial software. Still, there are other free image editors that also provide a rich set of features such as IrfanView and Photoscape.

Conclusion

Although choosing your default image editor usually comes down to a matter of personal taste, FastStone Image Viewer is one of the top freeware applications in terms of popularity. We definitely agree, as its one of those free, but highly-capable programs that many users would actually pay for, if such was the case.