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Quickly look at all images in any folder. Sequential for Mac does what you wish Preview.app did out of the box: browse multiple images using the arrow keys.

It’s probably a habit I picked up in Windows, and continued with in Linux: opening a photo, then hitting the right arrow to see the next one. I expect to be able to jump from photo to photo, browsing my collection, but that’s simply not possible using Preview.app. Sure, I could import all my photos into iPhoto, but I want don’t want that: I like my folders, and want to browse them directly.

Do you feel the same way? Enter Sequential.

sequential-main

This keyboard-centric, folder-based image viewer is perfect if you don’t want to import your photos into an iPhoto library, but still want a simple way to show off a series of pictures. This is not a new piece of software – the most recent update is from 2010 – but it’s stable, fast and exactly what most of you are looking for. Here’s how it works.

Using Sequential

Launch Sequential and you won’t see anything but the menubar. Open a folder with the software, however, and you’ll see the first image instantly:

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From here you can easily browse you collection of images using the arrow keys. By default images are scaled to fit the windows, but you can change this using the menu, or the “ASDF” buttons:

sequential-scaling

You can also zoom in and out with the plus and minus keys. It’s simple, but it works – and generally loads faster than Preview.app. You can also view the EXIF data What EXIF Photo Data Is, How to Find It & How to Understand It What EXIF Photo Data Is, How to Find It & How to Understand It Read More for each image, if you want:

sequential-exif

Supported Files & Settings

Sequential can open any image formate you’re thinking of. JPG, PNG and GIF all worked for me, as did PSD files (meaning Sequential is another way to open PSD files without Photoshop The Best Ways to Open a PSD File Without Photoshop The Best Ways to Open a PSD File Without Photoshop While PNGs, JPGs, and BMPs can be opened in nearly every image editor, PSD needs special support. If you don't want to pay for a Creative Cloud subscription plan, there are free options available. Read More ). PDF files also work, and animated GIFs animate in the way you’d expect. This isn’t surprising: Preview.app can open all of these, after all.

But Sequential can also open ZIP and RAR files full of images, which might come in handy. The app also supports comic book files: CBZ and CBR (Comic Book ZIP and Comic Book RAR, respectively). This means you can use Sequential to read comic books on your Mac, or at least check them over before transfer to another device.

In case you’re curious about the format, you can create you own CBZ or CBR file Create CBR/CBZ Files To Distribute Your Comic Strip Or Graphic Novel Create CBR/CBZ Files To Distribute Your Comic Strip Or Graphic Novel The Internet has been kind to comic book creators (although piracy has inflicted a big dent in the profits of the major publishers) and web comics and sequential art tales created specifically for an online... Read More easily enough. They’re basically archived files with images in them.

There’s not a lot in the way of settings here, but you can tweak the way navigation works.

sequential-navigate

You can also set which screen the app will full-screen to (the program pre-dates Lion’s fullscreen mode), how scaling works and what the Escape key does:

sequential-general-settings

It’s not a lot to configure, but such a simple app really doesn’t need more. I like how Sequential keeps things simple and just lets you browse your images.

Potential Uses

So, what will you use this for? I find it plays with workflows well, if looking at images is part of yours. For example, if you’re editing a document in one window and looking at the related images in other, it’s quick to Command-Tab to Sequential and check that all images are what you’d expect.

Beyond work, it’s a great general-purpose way to show off images and put your arrow keys to good use. Open your folder of choice, turn off thumbnails and switch to full screen. Done. And, of course, Sequential is perfect for reading comic books – something your Mac can’t do out of the box. But I’d love to know what you use Sequential for, so leave your comments below.

Alternatives

Not sure Sequential is for you, but still want an alternative to iPhoto and Preview? You could look into Lyn, which is a capable iPhoto repalcement Why You Should Replace iPhoto With A Free App Called Lyn [Mac] Why You Should Replace iPhoto With A Free App Called Lyn [Mac] Read More . Alternatively, you could use Pixa to organize your Mac photos Forget iPhoto. Use Pixa To Organize Photos On Your Mac Forget iPhoto. Use Pixa To Organize Photos On Your Mac If you've been looking for a way to keep photos on your Mac organized, and iPhoto isn't cutting it for you, a new beta app might have you covered. Free for as long as it's... Read More . They’re both more complex than Sequential, but might be just what you’re looking for.

Me, I’m sticking with the simple Sequential. Let us know what you decide on!

  1. Ains
    March 6, 2014 at 3:12 am

    How about PhotoScape X for Mac? Its an awesome and simple viewer and editor one should try it out
    Ains

  2. Sarath
    March 5, 2014 at 3:33 am

    Justin, excellent.

    As you put, I do not want all my photos to be pulled in iPhoto to view them. Besides, when I open one, I should be allowed to navigate to the other photos in the viewer. I love Mac but these things are a day-to-day usages that everybody simply expects it.

    I need to figure out a way to make this Sequential to be the default image viewer.

    Thanks !

    • James
      March 5, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      Right/control click on image, Get Info, look for Open with*, select Sequential and hit Change All... button. Voila!

      *(if drop-down selector is not visible click grey disclosure triangle)

  3. cat
    March 4, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    There's also the app Xee, which has arrow based and gesture browsing. The newest version costs a few dollars, but the old version is still free and works fine. Supports lots of image types, and it's snappy.

    • Justin P
      March 4, 2014 at 8:57 pm

      Didn't know about this one, might need to check it out. Thanks!

  4. Rosemary Miller
    March 4, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    You also can select all the items in a folder and open with Preview to get the same effect.

  5. Andriy
    March 4, 2014 at 2:22 am

    it was last updated in 2010?! A little concerned about this...

  6. Dave
    March 3, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    Great find. Sequential looks like it could be the Irfanview for Mac I've been looking for.

  7. Evren
    March 3, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    You could always use quicklook for arrow based browsing :)

    • Justin P
      March 3, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      You know, I almost got into this in the article, but I don't like using Quicklook while multitasking. I find that, far too often, the preview disappears when I still want it on the screen. And with Mavericks it's become unbearably slow at times...

  8. Mark
    March 3, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    I don't see the need for an additional program to do this. The "quick look" function works just fine. Select one file in a folder, hit the space bar to bring it up in quick look, and use the arrow keys to scroll through the rest of the files in that directory.

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