FastStones Very Fast Image Browser/Editor

In web development scouring through hundreds of images is one of the biggest delay-in-game penalties. To avoid the problem, ye Editor uses a special directory scheme and reliance on a very fast image browser/editor. But ever since Jasc Paintshop Pro version 8 and ACDSee 10 passed their prime, ye Editor has been looking for a really fast viewer and editor for Windows. Jasc became Corel while ACD Systems Pro Photo Manager 3.0, Adobe Photoshop Elements , and Corel PaintShop Pro [all supposedly geared for novice users] have become too complicated to remember how to operate efficiently. So ye Editor has been on the look out for the past few years for a replacement.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 is pretty attractive  [and runs in Mac as well as all versions of Windows]. But at $285 and some notable speed bumps Lightroom  does not quite fit the bill. There have been a lot of other contenders – but Adobe PhotoShop Elements is even more complicated than parent Photoshop while Photo Impact and Serif Plus have nuisance gaps. Just give me a very fast image browser with the ability to do quick edits. Enter FastStone Image  Viewer:

What is so nice about this viewer? First, the image browser is blazingly fast, generating thumbnails of big 6-16MPixel files faster than I have seen in a long time. Click a thubnail with leftmouse button and you get a quick preview in the lower left of the viewer. Then just rightmouse click on the preview  image  for a complete set of editing commands . Or rightmouse click one of the thumbnail images for a smaller set of image-edit commands [see screenshot above].

In both cases the popup menu is also presto fast offering  dozens of command to do  slideshows, create wallpaper,  rotate an image 4 ways, edit, copy/move  to folder, print, and all the commands you can think of when you need to do quick elementary photo edits on an image. The only basic image edit command that appears to be missing is a clone tool for retouching an image. And if you want to do a full photofinishing effort, just  send it over to Photoshop or your favorite editor for the full job using drag and drop or Fastone’s Edit with External program command.

The problem with tools like Adobe’s Bridge  is that it has gotten progressively slower as they have added tagging, image ratings, image comments and other features. Also, Adobe and other software vendors add features that tend to be proprietary and not integrating well for say batch commands with other vendors photo editing tools. Yes, these tools handle other media like animations, audio, and video which FastStone does not support but the lack of speed and their complicated interfaces means FastStone looks very good indeed.

Quality Edits

FastStone has several tools or boards to do full editing in. For example below  is the color corrections Board:

Ye Editor was a bit leery of the color corrections tool, but to my surprise I found it as robust as the one in Photoshop. Very nice control including color corrections for RGB – which means the Morning Blues can be handled easily. In addition there is a Drawings Board that allows users to add vector finishings like text and lines to an image. But my favorite is the ability to add frames to a photo using the Border Effects Board:

Now its easy as pie to add border effects to a photo. At last a free [for home users only] image viewer fast and more than equal to the task! Too bad it is only for Windows, since Mac users have slow graphics problems. For organizations there are generous discounts starting at $34.95and a lifetime license.  Be sure to take a look at the free FastStone Image Resizer or the $19.95 FastStone Capture for screenshots, also top notch.

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