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Bobby Freidin's recent article on InfranView inspired me to write about my favorite lightweight photo viewer and editor. Let's face it, at the end of the day, there is Photoshop, and there is everything else. But, sometimes, you just need a little something and loading Photoshop seems like a waste. Not to mention, not everyone can afford Photoshop's frequent upgrades. Don't even mention Photoshop to Beavis - my trusty by aged Dell Laptop - or his 512 MB of RAM will whimper like a puppy that wants your steak from the dinner table.
That is where Faststone comes in. Like Infranview, Faststone provides lightning fast image viewing. Like Infranview, Faststone supports a boatload of file formats and coverts between them. The main difference is that Infranview is about the single image where Faststone is about the browser. If you are familiar with Photoshop Elements, Infranview is like the Editor, and Faststone is like the Organizer.
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There are two views in Faststone - the browser, and the image view. The browser (see Browser Image below) has the familiar Windows tree for navigation. It has thumbnails (though you can choose list or details view) in the main pane, and a preview of the selected picture for getting a bigger view without selecting a picture. Faststone doesn't just show images, it can also give you video previes. It stores the preview thumbnails in a database, so once you it loads them the first time, the thumbnails fly up on the screen the next time you view the directory. Oh, and if you like working with RAW files, no problem. Faststone supports every camera model that anyone who actually uses RAW files would own.
Once you've found the picture you want, a double click gets you the single image view. You want to edit? Then edit, my friend.
- Crop? Check.
- Red-eye? Check.
- Resize? Check.
- Rotate? Check.
- Blur/Sharpen? Check.
- Add text, lines, and colors? Check, check, check.
- Brightness/Contrast adjust? Check.
- Histogram? Check
- Gray scale, sepia, negative, Red/Green/Blue adjustment
- Watermark, annotation, drop shadow, framing, bump map, lens, morph, waves
Even with all that Faststone can do, if you ever feel like you've gotten in over your head, there is an Edit Menu choice for Edit with External program where you can pick Photoshop or Lightroom or whatever you like for your heavy lifting.
File support comes easy. Virtually any image filetype you've heard of can be opened in Faststone. If you want to convert to another file, either use the conversion tools, or just choose Save As and pick your file type. This feature is great for us writers who use Abduction to get the perfect screenshot. The file comes out as PNG but most websites will only allow you to upload JPG or GIF. Just open the file, Click Save As, pick JPG for the file type. If you want to make it quicker loading, click advanced and choose your quality level all without leaving the save dialog box.
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Faststone Batch Features
Because Faststone is all about the browser, it comes with tons of operations that can be performed on multiple images. Whether you want to rename a bunch of files, or convert a bunch of files to JPG, Faststone can handle it. It can also build contact sheets and wallpapers all from the menus. Oh yeah, and it makes slideshows. Everyone does that? Does everyone make a file that can be played anywhere without any software installed? Faststone does and it can add music, and over 100 different transistions so you can shake up that family reunion slideshow a little bit. You'll show up with an exe file if you want. Just run it!
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Quick and Easy
See that map? That's a Copy Selection to Clipboard from a PDF file, pasted into Faststone, saved as a JPG, added the arrows and the text, resized, and saved as a JPG suitable for emailing. Total time? Four minutes flat, and most of that was me dinking around with color choices (do the yellow boxes stand out better than the orange boxes?).
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Faststone Image Viewer 3.5 is so good that half way through writing this article I had to go check to make sure it was actually free software and not something that I "picked up somewhere." For everything you want to do with images but don't want to do in Photoshop, this is your baby.
(I am in no way affiliated with Faststone. If they have an affiliate program - which I don't think they do - I'm not a part of it.)