A great image viewer

Irfanview… one of the most popular viewers worldwide!
I am often asked by my students and friends what applications to use for their photography editing and file management. I use a number of different applications myself – for different purposes. However, one application I have used for many years is in my opinion the best image viewer available in the world. And, it’s a free download for home use! At the time of writing it has been downloaded over sixty million times! It’s called Irfanview    External link - opens new tab/page(pronounced “EarfanView”).

Irfanview... one of the most popular viewers worldwide!

Irfanview... one of the most popular viewers worldwide!

Features and functions
The basic list of functions in Irfanview is shown above. In fact there is much more in this excellent application. For example there is a great little image editor, while simple and rugged, it’s accurate and effective – providing simple versions of functions available in other more powerful image editors. There are facilities for straightening angled horizons, cloning out the dust spots or undesirable elements of the picture, applying special effects… and lots of other things. Advanced users might use the quick and rugged features to do many simple tasks. Photography starters would find this application excellent as a way to get started in image editing. Irfanview is a lot less scary and easier to use than many of its contemporaries in this field.

One brilliant feature allows you to edit the photo, including adding text or making other changes, but without affecting the original. So if you make a mess of doing an edit you can go back one step. Or, better still, dump all changes. Any edit you make is only saved to the original if you actually save your screen version back to the original file. A great feature!

It is a portable application too. You can load it onto a memory stick and connect it to any USB enabled computer. It will run directly from the .exe file on the stick without the need to install it.

I could wax lyrical about all the features available. Frankly, I think it would be better if you spent your time downloading it and installing it. You can get to one of the download sites from the Irfanview home page   External link - opens new tab/page.

Installation is easy
Once you have downloaded the application double-click the saved file. Next, just follow instructions. If you are asked about installing an optional browser-toolbar make sure that option is not selected (unless you want a new toolbar in your browser – it is not a part of Irfanview).

I advise that you download and install the Irfanview plug-ins as well. These are needed to ensure that the latest file formats are usable by Irfanview. The plug-ins provide a comprehensive list of available file types that the application can use. This includes RAW files for many cameras. Installing the plug-ins is easier than the main program. Download it and double click the saved file. Done!

Using Irfanview
This is a highly intuitive application. Most things are easy to do. Try just playing around with the available functions. You cannot do any damage to your files unless you save an image back to its own file. Otherwise, have fun. It will be a long time before you manage to try out all the features. This free program is incredibly adaptable and versatile. There are hundreds of options and settings – you can pretty much customise it to behave how you want. Even though I have Photoshop, LightRoom and a number of other editors I use Irfanview daily, often many, many times. It is so quick and useful that you will soon wonder what you did without it.

Particularly useful are the file management facilities. You can view your images much faster than most other image applications; easily copy or move files and save, delete or rename files from within Irfanview (singly or in batches). You can even send the picture you have on-screen to another editor like Photoshop for more advanced work.

Oh! And, one more thing. Be sure to upgrade Irfanview regularly. It is in active development. New versions come out every couple of months. Great new features are added all the time as well as new and updated plug-ins.

Have fun!

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
See also: Profile on Google+.

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