Updated: April 30, 2009
Have a few images that you would like to play with? Fix a bad angle here, reduce the resolution there, create a panorama image from that last barbecue? If you're ever in a need for quick image editing, you won't find a better candidate than IrfanView. IrfanView is an incredible small, incredibly light and incredibly fast Windows image viewer, with some fairly serious image editing capabilities.
Weighing only about 1MB and loading in less than one second, it's ideally suited for quick and dirty image manipulation jobs, like rescaling, resizing, rotating, red eye reduction, and some basic decoration effects. It can also be used to view image slides shows, create screensavers and much, much more. And all this for free.
It will run easily on machines too weak for Photoshop or GIMP and will let you do the basic image processing tasks in a fraction of time it takes just to load the full-featured suites. To say nothing of the cost, in case of the former, or complexity, in case of both.
IrfanView is simple yet powerful. It will definitely suit newbies, but even advanced users can enjoy with quite well. Let's have a little tour of IrfanView, shall we? Allow me to introduce the simplest and simply the best image viewer for Windows.
One of the extremely strong sides of IrfanView are the hotkeys. By using keyboard strokes, you can perform editing tasks without having to drag your mouse about, saving lots of time.
Several examples: Press s and you will open the Save dialog. Press r and you'll rotate the image 90 degrees clockwise (to the right). Press d and you'll clear the display. Press the Delete key and you'll delete the image.
Create panorama images
This is definitely a great feature. It can be useful both for nature shots and tutorials, when you have a need to stack several images one next to another, either horizontally or vertically. IrfanView will let you do this in just a few quick mouse clicks.
IrfanView can be used to take screenshots of things on your desktop. Activate the feature and then use the assigned hotkey to grab the entire desktop, across one or more monitors and active windows, with or without borders. You can also time the screenshots or append time and date to the filename.
Would you like to create a screensaver of your favorite images, whatever they may be? Hit w and you'll open the Slideshow wizard. This tool allows you to play gallery slideshows on your desktop. But you can also export the slideshows.
IrfanView can also automatically append music files to slideshows, so you can have a nice background tune, too. All this, including creating a lovely .scr file takes just 13 seconds.
Batch conversion / rename
Hit b and you'll open the Batch wizard. It allows you to change the image format or filenames of multiple images at once, saving time once again.
IrfanView offers you an interesting selection of basic effects, including blur and sharpen, pixilize, noise, edge detection, grayscale, color balance, all sorts of twists, swirls and warps, and others. While these cannot compare to what you may do with the big programs like GIMP or Photoshop, they take zero skills to master and almost as much time to apply.
IrfanView is perfect for fixing those just slightly crooked images, when you were just slightly drunk and could not hold the camera perfectly straight. Open any twisted image, fine tune it to the left or right and you'll have undone the embarrassment.
This hardly scratches the full power of this 1MB monster, but I have to wrap it somewhere. Oh, when you finally want to quit IrfanView, just hit Esc.
IrfanView is a truly amazing little program. It does almost everything. It's my favorite Windows image tool. Working on a Windows machine without it feels like losing a limb to a rusty shrapnel in WWI trenches near the Belgian border.
Seriously, it has what you need: free price tag, simplicity of use, lots of rich features, speed to satisfy the most impatient among us, a terribly light footprint that won't toll the machine, and the general feel of no-nonsense work/fun that is so hard to come by with most programs. If there's one program that won't you leave shouting at your screen, it's definitely IrfanView. You have to try it.
One thing you should pay attention is that IrfanView ships with Google Desktop and Google Toolbar bundled. So make sure you uncheck those during the installation if you don't want them.
That's about it. Have fun!