Best Free Video Players

Video Players
Image by Alexandre van de sande http://bit.ly/1cKKiDt

If you have a windows computer, you have certainly used the Windows Media Player already. And If you own a Mac, you are familiar with Quicktime and iTunes. However, there are still issues with these players and programs when it comes to certain video file types or codecs used in a video container file. Often times, those free or operation system native video playing programs have limitations that prevent you from watching the video you wanted.

Luckily, there are many free and open source versions all over the net that offer just as many if not even more features, and allow you to view many different video file formats without any problem. We have gathered the best or most popular video players you get on the net for free.

VLC Player

VLC PlayerOne of the best known alternatives to the Windows Media Player is VideoLAN’s VLC Player. The multimedia player is available for many different operating systems like Windows, OS X, different GNU/Linux versions like Ubuntu or openSUSE, but also for mobile OS like Android, iOS, and Solaris.

The VLC media player is not limited to play video files from the hard only, but can also open and play discs, streams, and webcams. Different codec packs can be downloaded for VLC to display all kinds of video container formats, however the player already plays most files even without an additional installation.

It is easy and intuitive to use, with options for subtitles and different audio tracks, cropping, and even for adding effects to the video.

KMPlayer

KMPlayer

The KMPlayer supports many different video and container formats as well as audio files. In addition to the desktop computer versions of the KMPlayer, there are also apps available for both Android and iPhone devices.

A very special function of the KMPlayer is the Connect feature (which is currently in beta). With the feature, users are able to watch videos and movies downloaded on a computer with their mobile device. To watch, all that is needed is a pin and a 4 digit password.

The usual options of subtitles, contrast, audio tracks, and full DVD and other disc menus is given within the KMPlayer, as well as the possibility to capture audio and video with the program.

Miro

Miro

Another great multimedia player you can download and use for free is Miro. It is available for the three major operating systems Windows, OS X, and Linux, as well as for the iPad.

Miro works especially well with audio files since it easily creates a music (and video) library by pointing the player to the respective folder on your computer. Furthermore, the player easily syncs with Android phones and offers the possibility to share videos and music on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter.

No Download and Installation

However, what all of these open source players have in common – apart of being free to use – is that you have to download them and install the program to your computer, or the app to your phone. Sometimes, when your hard drive is full already, you don’t want that.

In these cases, you can still use an online video converter to convert your videos into a popular format like MP4. That way, you can make them easily playable with your computer’s native or already installed players as well.

 

How To View All Kinds Of Files Without Installing Anything

Did you know that there are several options on how to view all kinds of Files without having to install the specific program needed? Yes, even programs that are capable of opening and displaying different kinds of files mostly require download and installation – if not even a purchase!

Open Anything
Image by Tripp http://bit.ly/1HblqPL

Thus, we have collected a view websites that allow you to view different kinds of audio, document, eBook, spreadsheet, image, or presentation files online. Oftentimes, you are sent a file that you can not open with the programs available on your computer – may it be an Apple pages document that you can’t open in Microsoft Word, or a RAW camera image.

Furthermore, most of these pages do not even require you to register or log in to use them. The service is completely for free.

ThinkFree Online

ThinkFree Online is a tool especially useful for users of Apple Macs or platforms without the installation of the Microsoft Office Programs. The site allows you to open all kinds of Microsoft Office files of 2003 and 2007 like DOC, DOCX, XLS, or PPT.

Furthermore, you are able to use a DOC, XLS, and PPT editor on the website. By creating a free account, it is also possible to store your documents and spreadsheets on your account.

Unfortunately, the site is limited to processing Microsoft Office files only, however the support provided is very reliable.

ThinkFree

rollMyFile

rollMyFile is a very versatile online file viewer. They claim to support over 500 different file types, ranging from documents and spreadsheets, to images and even eBooks. The handling of the website is very easy as well, since you can simply drag & drop the file you want to open on the home page. rollMyFile is supported by the most common browsers like Opera, Safari, Firefox, or Google Chrome.

With a paid subscription, the user is able to edit the files uploaded and save those changes to, e.g., Google Drive or Drop Box.

However, there are still many files, especially media files or raw image files from DSLR cameras, that can not be opened by the service.

rollMyFile

Convert your Files

Another option to view any kind of file that has been sent to you or that you found on your hard drive is to convert them into formats your computer, tablet, or mobile phone is able to open and display. Just as with the two services mentioned above, no installation of a program to your computer or phone is needed, however, the converted file will have to be either downloaded on your hard drive or stored on a cloud storage service.

The possibilities are almost endless though. Usually not supported RAW camera files like NEF or CR2 can be converted to JPG, 3GP or other more “exotic” video files can be converted to MP4, and eBooks and all kinds of documents can easily be converted to PDF.

OnlineConvert

How to create an iPhone Ringtone

iPhone Ringtones
Image by Matthew Pearce http://bit.ly/1dkJ0zF

Sure, those ringtones inherited by your iPhone or available on iTunes are nice, but don’t you want a more personal one? A part of your favorite song, or simply one that gets you up and going in the morning? To achieve that, you do not have to purchase a ringtone from the iTunes store! We can show you how it can be done very easily using the fitting cost-free resources and your iTunes library!

1. Grab the Song

First things first. Do you know which part of the song you want as your ringtone? You need to remember the exact part with the start and ending time to the second. Best, you write it down somewhere real quick.

Now, you can basically choose any free audio converter to trim the song, however, using this M4A converter can save you a later step already. Go to the converter and upload the song you want to trim. Under “Trim Audio” you can enter the start and ending time. After hitting “Convert File”, the song will be cut and the part you wanted will be converted to M4A. Using iTunes or the Apple Quick Time Player, you can now listen to the part of your song again, making sure it’s the one you want. The best thing about this: your original song will remain untouched, contrary to clipping and converting it using iTunes.

Once you have the desired part, you can move on to step 2.

2. Get the Ringtone File

Having an M4A file to begin with is nice, however it’s not the one suitable for iPhone ringtones. To get the appropriate file, you have to locate your downloaded and converted file first. Either, it will be stored in the folder specified in your browser’s download history, or you can select it from there directly and choose “Show in folder” or something similar after right-clicking on the file. You will be lead to the download destination right away.

To change the file, you will have to rename it. However, not the name of the file itself, but the name of the file extension. If you’re lucky, you can simply right-click on the image and choose “Properties” or “File Info”. There, you can rename the file extension as well as the name of the file. In case the file extension is not visible, you have to switch it on. There are different tutorials about that on the internet, depending on which version of Windows or iOS you have; for example this one for OS X Mountain Lion.

Once you are ready, all you have to do is change the file extension of your file to “M4R”. For example, your file had had the name “Rhianna-Umbrella.m4a” and now you renamed it to “Rhianna-Umbrella.m4r”. Once you tried to apply this change, your computer will send a warning and ask you, whether you really want to change the file extension. Confirm.

3. Add your Ringtone to iTunes and your iPhone

Once you renamed your file, you can drag and drop it into your iTunes library. It will show up under “Tones”.

To get the ringtone to your phone, you will have to sync your iPhone to your computer. In your iPhone menu on iTunes, you have to go to Tones and select “Sync Tones”. Hit “Sync” and “Apply” and wait. Once the sync is completed, you can use your new ringtone! Simply go to “Settings > Sounds > Ringtone” and choose it as your currently used one.

Convert Websites to Text or Image

There are many different reasons for why you may want to convert a website into some other form of file – and the possibilities are just as numerous. The easiest way is to convert the designated website in a format best suited for your purpose though. Besides, it’s easy AND free!

No matter if you seek to print out information gathered from the internet, or need a complete website scan quick and easy for a presentation, a conversion will provide the result within seconds. Furthermore, you can create screenshots of a website, or even turn the written website content into audio.

How does it work?

All you need for these conversions is the URL to the website you want to convert, for example to this Wikipedia Article, and the correct converter for your purpose. On the page of the converter, the URL can be entered or pasted into the appropriate field. Then, all you got to do is hit “Convert File” and wait.

Convert Websites

For a complete representation of the website, containing images and formatting, and ready to be printed, a PDF conversion using a PDF converter would be the best.

To get text that is editable, the website should be converted to DOC, DOCX, or ODT instead.

Convert Websites
Converted to: PDF | DOCX

Quick screenshots of websites can be done in any image format in case you do not need a print-ready version or editable text. Contrary to taking an “usual” screen shot, converting an URL to JPG, for example, will result in a capture of the whole website, not only the visible part!

Convert Websites
JPG conversion of a whole page

 

Extract Music from Video Files – Tutorial

From Video to Audio
Icons by http://www.iconarchive.com/

In one of our earliest posts, we have already talked about the possibility to extract music from video clips. By now, you know that the answer on how to get that movie score, song, or piece of background music from a video or movie scene is to convert your video into an audio format.

However, this time we want to provide a better and more extensive tutorial on how to get the sound track ripped from a video.

All you need is the video you want the sound track to be extracted from – either downloaded from vimeo, dailymotion, YouTube, or elsewhere; or recorded by yourself – and one of the audio converters from online-convert.com. No download or installation of any software is needed.

1. Choose an Output Format

Depending on what kind of audio file you need, you have to choose the output format first. Pick the format you need from the big list of audio converters – for example iTunes’ AIFF, or MP3 – and click on the link.

video-to-audio001
Click for full size

2. Upload your Video

Now that you know what kind of audio file you want, it’s time to choose the video you want to extract the music or sound effects from. If it’s a short video that only contains the part you want to rip, you can directly upload it to the converter by using the “Choose Files” button, entering an URL, or choosing a file from your cloud storage.

video-to-audio002

If you only want a part of your video clip to be converted into an audio file, however, you have the option to select the correct time frame from which you want to extract the music. You find this option underneath the other settings you can apply to your desired audio file.

video-to-audio003

Once you have specified all your settings, you can hit the “Convert File” button.

3. Receiving your Audio File

On the next page, the progress of your conversion is shown. As soon as the conversion is completed, the file will automatically download to your computer.

Of course, you can also send the download link to yourself or someone else via email, or save your file onto a cloud storage.

Et voilà, now you have the sound track extracted from your YouTube, DailyMotion, Vimeo, or otherwise downloaded and recorded video clip!

Useful Tools for Web and Graphic Designers

Graphic Design
Image by Jennifer Morrow http://bit.ly/1DYmisL

As a graphic designer, we surely don’t have to ask you whether you have the latest version of Adobe Photoshop or InDesign. Because you have. These programs or any other similar software of your choice that helps you to design, are almost standard for every graphic designer.

However, there are other things you may not even knew you needed for designing. These tools are not only handy, but also sadly unknown by quite a number of graphic designers – and yet they are quite essential if you want to create a design not only effectively, but also appealing to your customers.

Thus, check out these 22 tools that are partly unknown, and mostly underrated. Hopefully, they will not only better your work flow and practice, but also boost your creativity even more.

General Work

1. iDisplay

Two screens are better than one. Installing iDisplay on your Windows computer or Mac will allow you to user your smartphone or tablet as a secondary screen. Move floating palettes onto the smaller screen to de-clutter your main screen, share your current screen with an audience, or look at your design in a different resolution than the snipped you are currently working on.

2. Opera Mobile Emulator

Opera browsers are quite popular, especially for mobile use. This emulator (as well as a web version) will show you how designs and layouts will look like in Opera browsers installed on various devices. Responsiveness is the key.

3. Trello

Working in a team? Then this online work board is an especially handy tool. But also working alone, the work board provides a good overview over work done or still pending, progress, and general “To do” lists. Login using a Google accounts is possible as well.

Graphic Design

4. Lipsum

Create Latin blind text to fill space in your layouts or flyer designs. This continuous text can be generated with different settings, denoting paragraphs, words, bytes, etc.

Graphic Design

5. GuideGuide

Grids and guides make working with your graphic program a lot easier. GuideGuide is a plugin for Photoshop users, that creates guides from your document or selection, with the options to jump to edges or midpoints, and allows you to create all kinds of grids easily. The option to save sets to use them on future layouts comes quite in handy as well. Downloads for older Photoshop versions are available as well.

6. ComparePSD

This software allows users of Photoshop to compare two PSD files and note all differences between them, including layer, mask, or effect changes.

7. Check My Colours

No matter if you forgot what colors you used on your own web design, or whether you found a great color scheme on another website, this web application will tell you which font and background colors have been used. Furthermore, it checks contrast ratio and other settings.

8. Convert to JPG

To show off, send, or upload your design and illustrations, it’s advised to use another format than Photoshop’s PSD, SVG, or any related image files. Converting your file to JPG allows you to get feedback from customers or a community, and to send files faster on the web thanks to file compression.

You can also create icons out of your images by converting them to ICO, or turn your graphics into PDF even.

Graphic Design

9. What’s my Screen Resolution

Easy access with just one click and you know your screen resolution. This site also provides a customizeable Ascii or UTF-8 character table, different coding tools, and other useful gadgets.

Resources

10. QBrushes

A collection of quality Photoshop brushes sorted by category or tag.

11. Easel.ly

The free version of this web application allows you to create interesting and appealing infographics quickly. Users can start from scratch or use an existing template. Next to already provided clipart, own images can be uploaded and used as well.

12. WordItOut

Enter your text or list and receive a finished word cloud. Of course, settings like font face and colors can be toggled, as well as margin or word size variation.

13. TinEye

Easily find pictures with a creative commons license from flickr – by color! TinEye browses flickr and points out pictures that have the same color or color scheme as provided as an input.

Graphic Design

14. Stripe Generator 2.0

Generate color combinations and stripey (background) patterns for your design. After playing around with different settings, the stripe style generated can be downloaded in the PNG format. The possibility to create tartan patterns is also given.

15. Icon Archive

In need of a fancy social media icon for a layout presentation? Or a collection of flags or file type icons? Icon Archive provides a large collection of icons ranging from user interface buttons to more abstract icons. They can be downloaded in several formats like PNG, ICO, and ICNS.

Fonts

16. SkyFonts

Using a fancy font may add greatly to your design, however, if they aren’t web compatible, you will have to look for a – most of the times – not as fitting alternative. SkyFonts allows for the usage of Google web fonts as desktop versions. This way, you can choose a good-looking font, knowing that the possibility of displaying it online is given.

17. WhatTheFont

And more fonts. Did you stumble over a great font in a design, image, banner, or graphic, yet you can’t find it? WhatTheFont will help you. Simply upload the image and filter out single letters. The tool will look up the font, or at least one similar.

Coding

18. CSS3 Click Chart

A good designer and layouter knows the most important commands, but can you remember the correct order of commands necessary for keyframe animation? Or can you add a custom font to your code from scratch? The CSS3 Click Chart gives a quick overview of useful CSS commands, witch code snippets, information, and preview.

19. JSFiddle

This web-based application lets you enter or paste Javascript, CSS, and HTML code, showing the result in real time.

Communities

20. Forrst

A community for designers and developers where they can upload their designs and projects and get feedback and help from the community.

Graphic Design

21. DeviantArt

Another community, mostly for artists and designers. In Galleries, all kinds of graphics, illustrations, or even animations can be shared with a big and lively community. Furthermore, DeviantArt is a great source for stock images or other graphic design resources like brushes, gradients, patterns, and more.

22. Tutorial9

Next to many interesting tutorials for Photoshop, photography, general web design, or Illustrator, this community also provides downloads of web templates, icon packages, brushes, or fonts. On top of that, you can find articles to boost your inspiration and creativity.

Google’s Open Standard File Formats

Google
Image by Robert Scoble http://bit.ly/1vxNJCM

There are many different kinds of file formats out there, most of them associated to certain programs or developers. Take for example Adobe’s PDF or PSD (Photoshop) files; all the different document files by Microsoft, Apple, and the open source equivalents; or eBook files that are solely linked to the Amazon Kindle. Many of these files and especially their skeleton or insides are protected or even secret. This makes it difficult for other (open source) programs to open, process, or create them. And it makes the task of providing perfect file conversions more difficult and challenging.

However, there are few file types, that belong to an open standard. Their framework is open and accessible, thus allowing many programs across platforms to process, display, play, create, or convert them.
The probably best known search engine and (by now) software and online services provider Google has taken part in developing open standard file types, that are supported by many devices, programs, and browsers. Today, we shall have a look at those open standard files created by Google.

WEBM

WEBM stands for Web Media File, and browsers like Opera, Firefox, and Google Chrome support these files for video playback. IE9 and Safari, however, need third-party assistance. WEBM files are HTML5 based videos, and can be found, e.g, on YouTube, 4chan, or Wikimedia. Even Android devices (from Gingerbread onward) allow playback of WEBM files.

Google haven’t been the first to actually develop this format though, however they significantly altered the given format and gave it it’s current shape and functionality.

The most common programs and utilities to support and playback WEBM files are:

  • Microsoft Windows Media Player
  • VideoLAN VLC Player (on Windows)
  • FFmpeg (on Linux)
  • Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera

You can find more information at The WEBM Project.

WEBP

Web Picture files, alias WEBP, are image files that allow lossy as well as lossless compression (and the compression is said to be way more efficient than with JPEG and PNG files). However, even with compression applied, the images retain relatively high quality. The big thought behind the development of WEBP files thus was to speed up the usage of the internet as a whole because of the small storage space required to save and load WEBP images.

Furthermore, WEBP images also allow for animation, and very large dimensions (maxing out at 16.384 x 16. 384 tiles). XXMP metadata and ICC profiles are supported as well.

WEBP files can be opened and viewed using the following programs and browsers (among others):

  • Adobe Photoshop (plugin needed)
  • Irfan View
  • WebP Codec for Windows
  • Google Chrome, Opera

More information can be obtained here.


Now, it is on you to decide whether you want to go on and use those media files used by Google for your images or videos. If so, a quick way to turn your videos into the WEBM format is to convert them. Likewise, JPGs, GIFs, and other pictures and photos can easily be converted to WEBP.

If, however, you stumble upon a WEBP and WEBM file and prefer having your videos or images stored as MP4, AVI, MKV, JPG, or TIFF, you can of course convert those Google files into the formats you need!

 

Camera RAW Image Formats

When using a modern camera, especially a DSLR camera, there are a few image sizes and qualities you can choose from. Most store images in quite good quality and resolution by using the JPG format. However, every good camera also has the option to store images in a so-called raw format which allows for even better quality, a very high solution, and no compression of the original shot.

Camera Raw Files
Image by 55Laney69 http://bit.ly/1G1tfJv

However, if you try to open such files in your computer’s native image viewing program, it is highly likely that you get an error message. Let alone trying to open those raw image files on a mobile device. Hence why there is always the option to convert camera raw image files to JPG or any other picture format. This is especially handy if a friend sent you a raw image file.

If you want to work more professionally it’s advised to take your photos using the raw format. Programs like Photoshop and other photo manipulating software are able to open the most common formats provided by modern cameras, giving you many options to edit, improve, and re-size your pictures for personal or professional use.

With that being said, let us give you some information about the most common camera raw image file formats.

Nikon – NEF

Digital photos taken with a Nikon camera – in fine and large settings – are stored on the SD card with the NEF file extension. Camera settings like lens, ISO, and color information are stored within the NEF file as well. Those so called “digital negative” files are either stored uncompressed or using lossless compression.

In contrast to JPG or TIFF images, NEF files retain 12- and 14-bit data which allows for a much bigger variety of colors being captured by the raw image format. Quick viewing of the images is possible as well since they save a JPG version (if selected) of the image on the SD card as well. Thumbnails are also created for a small preview of the shot.

Furthermore, edited and adjusted NEF’s can be stored as raw files again, leaving the actual shot untouched while saving the changes in a separate file.

Canon – CR2 & CRW

Canon cameras save their raw image files as CR2 or CRW. They contain all information captured by the camera’s sensor, including ISO, saturation, and other information. They are regarded as “digital negatives” as well, being stored without any loss of quality.

Much like NEF, those formats are recorded in 12- or 14-bit, resulting in better colors than other raster images. Files are saved using lossless compression.

CRW files may still be around and produced with older Canon camera models, however it has been replaced by the newer and more versatile and reliable CR2 extension.

Sony – ARW

ARW is the raw and uncompressed file extensions of photos taken using a Sony camera. They are created using the TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) specifications. All kinds of data captured by the camera’s CCD is contained within the file as well; like ISO settings, contrast, and other.

Instead of installing Photoshop or another program like that, ARW files can also be opened in programs that have the sole purpose of displaying (not altering) Sony camera’s raw image files. Unfortunately, ARW files can store different kinds of data which may cause problems with Sony related image viewing and editing software. Thus, it’s highly advised to consult manuals and papers on the perfect settings for Sony cameras and ARW files to ensure that the settings do not collide with the programs offered by Sony.

Olympus – ORF

Developed by Olympus, ORF files are the raw image files for said company’s digital cameras. Just like other camera raw files, information like hue, color, ISO, and others are contained in the file, using the camera sensor as a source.

Similar to ARW, ORF files are captured differently depending on the camera model and settings used, resulting in files with different formatting. Due to this, it may be possible, that some applications (even those of Olympus themselves) can not open, display, or allow you to alter ORF files.

Adobe’s DNG

What all of the previously mentioned formats have in common is that they are produced using a camera of the respective manufacturer. The DNG format, however, was developed by Adobe, becoming a universal raw image format that can be used to save high quality digital photos.

DNG files contain various meta data and use the TIFF standard. Pictures that have initially not been stored in a raw format can thus be saved as so called “linear DNGs”, which enables the user to handle changes made to the file in the same way as if they would have been applied to a raw image file. Programs that support raw DNGs always support the linear DNG format as well, yet it doesn’t always work the other way round.

Hacks for old Digital Photo Frames

Digital Photo Frame
Image by Mac Armstrong http://bit.ly/1N47NV8

At one point over the last year, almost everyone of us has gotten a digital photo frame – either as a give or some spontaneous impulse purchase. The hopes were high, that these futuristic pieces of photo display would modernize our homes, giving them a futuristic and up to date touch.

By now, however, many may regret this purchase or getting this gift. If you actually use the digital picture frame instead of just having it lying around in it’s original box, you are even paying constant money for it. Quite a large amount of power is needed by these devices, which is especially hard since you don’t look at the picture or photo slide show all the time when it’s on, the frame being powered and displaying pictures for nothing most of the time.

But stop! Before you get annoyed over the several dollars you spent on this device for – seemingly – nothing, let’s see what you can do with your picture frame to turn it into a useful gadget again!

Digital Door Sign

This may be interesting for people that work from home, in a doctors office, or somewhere else where people are usually not too sure whether they should and could enter. A digital sign with different photos that show the purpose of your business and either a “we’re open” or “we’re closed” graphic can encourage people to enter or let them know when it’s okay to do so, as well as inform them what your store, office, or else actually is about.

If you are versatile with electronics you can even tweak the frame in a way so you can control it from your computer. Means, you can display a “please come in” while you are able to have visitors, a “please come back later” if you are busy or on a break, and display information for your clients and curious folk if you leave the office for the day.

Secondary Computer Display

This is surely for the more advanced tinkerer among us. SpritesMods has posted a quick introduction how to transform your spare digital picture frame into a second computer monitor. It may not be as big in dimensions, but it’s surely a nice and versatile way to “recycle” an otherwise unused device.

Audio-visual Party Booster

One way to actually put the frame to it’s original usage without having it sit on an end table or drawer and sucking away on electricity, is to only use it for special occasions. Sharing vacation photos could be one, but a more interesting and fun one is to use it as an audio-visual device for your parties. If you have been “blessed” to own a newer version of the digital photo frame, it may be able to not only display pictures, but also videos and music tracks. Playing some party or lounge tracks while displaying an interesting slide show, or music videos can add to the atmosphere of your party!

Wifi “sniffing” Frame for Public usage

A bright head from Vancouver had the idea to use the fact that people often use the free wifi provided at different public locations like cafés and shopping centers to breathe new life into a dusty old digital picture frame. By scanning the wifi used in the certain area, the picture frame randomly displays pictures that are downloaded or looked at using this wifi connection.

Is it an intrusion of privacy? Surely, but if it’s known, this could add greatly to the entertainment of the viewers, seeing pictures of news sites mixed up with family vacation photos or the profile pictures of dating sites.

Fancy Digital Clock

This project requires some proficiency as well as perfect timing. A German news site for technology managed to imitate the elegant looks of the Clocktwo. By timing graphics that highlight the specific words and combinations, the picture frame can function as a fancy clock not everyone has at home for sure. It can be personalized with regards to colors, but also when it comes to the language. Why not let this clock tell you the time in your dialect, a foreign language, or even Klingon?


However you choose to tweak and tinker your unused digital picture frame though, make sure that you the correct files to be displayed. Not every picture frame supports the same image or video files. Luckily, you can convert them all to fit your – or rather your photo frame project’s – needs!

 

Best free Picture Viewers for Windows

Picture Viewer
Image by sean hobson http://bit.ly/1EsooOv

More often than not, there are better open source and otherwise free software alternatives to native Windows or Apple products. In this article, we want to have a look at the Windows picture viewers and the alternatives that offer you more and better features.

When browsing the help forums on the internet, you quickly come across some problems with the native Windows 7 and Windows 8 image viewing options. Windows Image (or Photo) Viewer from Windows 7 and 8 is unable to display animated GIFs, for example, only showing the first frame. The modern ‘Photos‘ app of Windows 8 does show animation in most cases, yet the app is set to full screen by default, overlapping all other programs in the background.

Thankfully, many free alternatives allow animation as well as the bypassing of full screen mode.

IrfanView

IrfanView is a free image viewer that works on all Windows platforms. Under certain cirumstances, the program runs on Linux and Next to displaying images, videos and audio files can be opened as well. The possibility of editing and converting pictures is given in some extend as well.

The following files can be viewed. For an exhaustive list, have a look at this list.

  • BMP
  • GIF (also animated)
  • ICO
  • JPEG
  • PNG
  • PSD (Photoshop file)
  • TIFF
  • WEBP
  • RAW camera files
  • PDF
  • TXT
  • FLASH
  • OGG
  • MIDI
  • MOV
  • MPEG
  • MP3
  • MP4
  • WAV

Other interesting features involve:

  • Scaling
  • Slideshow
  • Creation of screensavers
  • Creating icons
  • Communicate with scanners
  • Screenshot options
  • Cropping
  • Resizing
  • Rotating
  • Brightness & contrast
  • Tint
  • Gamma level
  • Batch processing
  • Image conversion

Furthermore, IrfanView is available in over 20 languages. It allows for several plugins to be installed to advance the features even more, and has a thumbnail function for better picture organization. The most striking feature, however, is the compactness of the program, with the basic version occupying about 1.6 MB only.

Picasa

Picasa is an image viewing and organizing software owned by Google. It’s available for Windows from XP up to Windows 7, Mac OS X, and Linux via Wine.

Edit: However, depending on the color profile of your image, Picasa can hit it’s limitations. CMYK pictures are not always supported (errors regarding PSD files saved in CMYK are common).

The following file formats are supported by Picasa. For an exhaustive list click here.

  • BMP
  • GIF (not animated)
  • JPG
  • PNG
  • PSD (Photoshop files)
  • some RAW camera files
  • TGA
  • TIFF
  • WEBP
  • 3GP
  • AVI
  • MKV
  • MOV
  • MPG
  • MP4
  • WMV
  • MP3
  • WMA

Other features provided are:

  • File import
  • Tracking
  • Tagging on Google+
  • Keywords
  • Facial recognition
  • Collections
  • Slide shows
  • Timelines
  • Page Layouts
  • Size reduction
  • Color enhancement
  • Red eye reduction
  • Cropping
  • Adding Text

Imagine

The image viewer Imagine was developed mainly for Windows platforms (up to Windows 8). While the program features some useful features, it’s last update unfortunately came out in November 2012.

Files supported include:

  • BMP
  • GIF (also animated)
  • ICO
  • JPG/JPEG
  • PCD
  • PSD (Photoshop files)
  • RAW camera files
  • TGA
  • TIFF
  • XCF (Gimp files)
  • 7z
  • RAR
  • TAR
  • ZIP

Imagine has very strong support for different kinds of animations. The features provided include the following. An exhaustive list can be seen here.

  • Extracting frames from animations
  • Transparency
  • Thumbnail browser
  • Batch processing
  • Slide shows
  • Screenshots
  • Exif/IPTC information
  • Creation of animations
  • Rotating
  • Flipping
  • Greyscale
  • Negative
  • Color depth
  • Swap colors
  • Effect filters

XnView

The XnView software is a file manager with support of image viewing. It’s available for Windows and it’s mobile versions, as well as OS X and Linux.

Numerous image, audio, and video formats are supported by XnView, including:

  • BMP
  • EPS
  • GIF
  • ICO
  • JPEG
  • PNG
  • PSD
  • RAW camera files
  • TIFF
  • PDF
  • MID
  • MP3
  • WAV

Some of the most common features of XnView are:

  • Screnshots
  • Slide shows
  • Thumbnails
  • Search for similar graphics
  • Exif/IPTC information
  • Rotating
  • Flipping
  • Cropping
  • Color manipulation
  • Filters & effects
  • Batch processing

FastStone Image Viewer

FastStone Image Viewer is available for Windows platforms from Windows 98 up to Windows 8. It’s an image viewing and organization software with stable releases.

The most common file formats are supported by FastStone Image Viewer, including:

  • BMP
  • GIF (also animated)
  • ICO
  • JPEG
  • PNG
  • RAW camera files
  • TGA
  • TIFF

Among others, the program offers the following features:

  • Thumbnails
  • Slide shows (including music and effects)
  • Exif information
  • Side-by-side image comparison
  • Rotation
  • Cropping
  • Color correction
  • Red eye removal
  • Clone Brush
  • Curves
  • Masks

A more exhaustive list of supported file types and features can be seen on the FastStone Homepage.


Sometimes, however, you may encounter an image file none of these free alternatives are able to open. In such cases, you can still convert the file in question quickly and easily with an online image file converter.