View, Resize, & Manipulate Image Files With Classic Utility IrfanView [Windows]

Erez Zukerman 04-12-2012

irfanview reviewWe all work with image files, all the time; be they graphics for the Web, corporate images for work, or just holiday snaps. These days there are more digital images than ever before. Windows comes with its own built-in image viewer, and if you have Google’s Picasa, it comes with its own fancy viewer.


But neither of these options surpasses a true classic – IrfanView, a free, tiny, and powerful image viewer for Windows.

You May Already Know It

IrfanView isn’t news; it’s been around for so long, it has its own Wikipedia entry. In fact, we’ve written about 6 Cool IrfanView Plugins To Enhance This Simple Image Editor Read More different How to Take a Screenshot & Batch Process Images with IrfanView Read More aspects 10 Useful Command-Line IrfanView Tools For Working With Images These days, screenshot applications are a dime a dozen, and you can do image editing offline, online and even on your phone. So what's a new way that you can make use of image editing... Read More of IrfanView many times before – but as it happens, the last time we’ve done a full review of IrfanView as an application was way back in 2008 IrfanView Blows Windows Viewer Out of the Water Read More , so I figured it might be time for a bit of a refresh.

The basics hadn’t changed since 2008, which is part of what makes IrfanView so great – it’s not a pretentious piece of software. It’s here to show your images, let you manipulate them, and stay out of your way. No Ribbon interface; no animations; no fancy Modern version; and most importantly, no nags or banners. It looks like simplicity itself:

irfanview review

Above you see IrfanView in its default configuration, which is as fancy as it gets. A few quick keystrokes later, you can pare it down to something like this:


manipulate images

That’s right: No toolbar, no menu bar, no title bar, no status bar. Of course, you don’t have to make them all go away at once – the View menu contains entries for toggling each element in itself, and there are easy-to-remember shortcuts, too (Alt+Shift+C for toggling the caption, and so on).

It Lets You Get Stuff Done

Unless you’re a graphics professional, chances are most of your photo manipulation work boils down to a few simple functions – resizing, rotating, and cropping. IrfanView lets you do any of these very easily. Rotating is a single keystroke away (R or L – rotate right, or left). To crop, just select any area of the image and hit Ctrl+Y; and to resize, hit Ctrl+R.

This simplicity doesn’t mean IrfanView lacks raw power: take, for example, the Resize dialog:


manipulate images

You can pick one of a few standard dimensions (desktop sizes), and even fit the wallpaper to your desktop. You can also set the size as a percentage, and if you want to get really picky about it, you can specify the resampling algorithm when enlarging photos.

But Not Just The Basic Stuff

If I emphasized IrfanView’s basic qualities so far, it’s because I believe the very best applications get the basics right. Once the UI is simple and the application is very fast and stable, you can start carefully adding on some bells and whistles, such as this built-in image effects browser:

manipulate images


It’s no Photoshop, but it does come with 38 different effects letting you get a bit more artsy with your images.  Or, here’s another powerful capability – converting, renaming, and resizing images in bulk.

irfanview review

In fact, IrfanView’s powerful batch processing capabilities are reason alone to have it on your system, even if you opt for a different image viewer for your daily needs. In fact, Ryan wrote an entire piece about how to convert and resize images in bulk How To Convert & Resize Images In Bulk If there is a single time-saving tip that I could ever offer to any writer, student, professional or anyone else that needs to produce documents with images, it's the ability to bulk-resize images. Read More with IrfanView – take a look at it if you want to see a bit more of this humble utility’s power.

Some Things Are Best Kept Simple

In the spirit of IrfanView itself, I’ve chosen to keep this post simple. Sure – I could have overwhelmed you with a bunch of advanced IrfanView tricks, but this really isn’t the point of this app. It’s not an app for tricks – it’s an app for getting work done. Do you know any other straightforward utilities you couldn’t live without? Let me know below!


Note: IrfanView is indeed free, but the author accepts donations. If you find it useful, don’t hesitate to donate 10 Euro.

Related topics: Image Editor, Photography.

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  1. Benji
    March 13, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    This is my absolute favorite photo viewer. Just nice and simple. Should be recommended to any new PC user. Anyways nice review ;)

  2. Svetlana Krstic
    December 14, 2012 at 6:48 am

    - Do you know any other straightforward utilities you couldn’t live without?

    FastStone Capture (portable) is my choice, but it is for taking screenshots, which is a little out of our subject.

    I like FastStone Image Viewer, too. It has some similarity to IrfanView, but it is not so light and fast as IrfanView.

  3. Scutterman
    December 12, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    I have been using Irfanview as long as I've known about it. It sits in pride of place in the taskbar of all computers I use on a regular basis, particularly since windows stopped supporting animated gifs in preview and photo viewer. I've never found a better app for what it does, and I've never needed to look. It starts quickly, it doesn't lag, and it is fantastically useful for a wide range of uses.

  4. Walter Gilbert
    December 11, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    I have been using it for a long time.

    Thank you for the tips

  5. dyl Belleza
    December 11, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    at ease there is a software with the classic and the size of the program.. thanks

  6. Giggity Goebbels
    December 8, 2012 at 8:42 am

    I always use photoshop lol

  7. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    December 6, 2012 at 8:36 am

    I like IrfanView, though I prefer Picasa's transparent background.
    Other small apps I like are Billy (a music player with customizable global hotkeys. Check it out!), Mp3Tag, and ClipCube( a clipboard extender).
    Free, fast, lightweight, and get the job done. There should be more apps like these.

  8. Shahbaz Amin
    December 6, 2012 at 5:19 am

    This utility looks very useful. Appears to be better than Windows Photo Viewer which was a (pleasant) surprise.

    When I started using Windows 8, the default viewer was Photos app which was even less functional than default viewer as it wouldn't let me go through pictures in a folders using arrow keys. Had to associate pictures to Windows Photo Viewer myself.

    Now I have downloaded and set it as default viewer and over the course of a week I would see how it very hopeful already. Thanks!!!

  9. Mac Witty
    December 5, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    Thanks for bringing it up again - it i to easy to forget old goodies

  10. Svetlana Krstic
    December 5, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    There is a portable version, too:

    (4 MB to download, nothing to install, just double-click and follow the instructions to unpack to a folder of your choice).

    Be aware that:

    1) IrfanView is provided as freeware, but only for private, non-commercial use (that means at home).

    1a) IrfanView is free for educational use (schools, universities and libraries) and for use in charity or humanitarian organisations.

    • Guest
      December 14, 2012 at 2:36 am

      IrfanView already is portable in and of itself; the Portable Apps version is just a streamlined installer. From its FAQ at

      Q: Is there a portable IrfanView version (for USB sticks, CDs etc.)?
      A: Yes, EVERY IrfanView version is portable. You can:
      1. Copy your existing/installed IrfanView folder to USB stick (recommended), or
      2. Use the normal installer and install IrfanView to an USB stick folder, or
      3. Use the ZIP version and unzip to a USB stick folder.
      (Note: the ZIP version of IrfanView is always available on the website link "Other download sites" at the bottom of the page).

      With the normal installer, just don't check any registry associations when you get to that screen.

  11. Ned
    December 5, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    This is a nice one. The program only take up about as much drive space a high density image file for pete's sake- and I cannot stand that inane Windows ribbon. Makeuseof you guys are ok and I do not hesitate to pass that on to people.

  12. Rob Hindle
    December 5, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    You write "In the spirit of IrfanView itself, I’ve chosen to keep this post simple. Sure – I could have overwhelmed you with a bunch of advanced IrfanView tricks..."

    Actually, might it be a good subject for a MakeUseOf guide?

    • Erez Zukerman
      December 5, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      Interesting idea! Will pass that along.

      • Fr. Stephen Supica
        December 5, 2012 at 6:05 pm

        I'd second that request! IrfanView is my go-to utility for quick image editing (has been for years - it's on every Windows machine I set up), but I'd love a guide for its more advanced options. My only regret is that there's no Linux port. (What do you all recommend for a Linux alternative with similar speed, simplicity, and functionality - and less complexity than GIMP?)

  13. Richard Borkovec
    December 5, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    I absolutely love IfranView. Whenever I reinstall Windows, it's one of the first things I put back on. Windows Viewer is slow as all get out, but IFV loads almost instantly. And the basic editing adds a lot to it.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      December 6, 2012 at 8:38 am

      Picasa is surprisingly fast. It's not very recommended if you don't use the main program, however.

  14. Rob Hindle
    December 5, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Very fast to load and very capable software, better than some commercial alternatives. The user interface is a bit "old-school" but that's part of the reason it's so fast, the developer has focussed on providing the core functions well. Fancy interfaces add filesize, software complexity and download time and are no easier to use just a bit more visually appealing.

    The add-ins pack includes a range of very useful extra features, loading them doesn't noticeably degrade performance - personally the "save for web" option is one I use a lot.

    I guess I fire-up IrfanView several times a day (no need to leave it running, it loads almost instantly).

    There is no requirement to pay but the developer does ask for a 10 euro donation - He deserves it, less capable commercial competitor software costs more. This will be the best value you ever got for spending 10 euros. It's so good it shouldn't be free! Reward the guy! (No it's not me and I don't know him!).

    • Erez Zukerman
      December 5, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      You know what, I fully agree! I've updated the post to add a final note calling on people to donate.

  15. Anonymous
    December 5, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Just using this for years. Still Perfect

  16. Douglas Mutay
    December 5, 2012 at 8:59 am

    feeling melancholic...irfan was my very first app that I installed in my very first computer running win 2000. I have never used it since then. Will download it and install it. I remember that it was a great great tool!

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      December 6, 2012 at 8:39 am

      It's already along that long? Wow. Quality does stand against time. By the way, what's your default image viewer then?

      • Douglas Mutay
        December 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm

        I use Picasa to view and edit my picture. I have been using it for years and never found a replacement that can stand against it.

        • Lisa Santika Onggrid
          December 7, 2012 at 5:41 am

          It's also my laptop's default image viewer (I use Irfan in my PC). I like Picasa's image viewer, though I don't use the editor very much. The library is nice indeed.

        • Douglas Mutay
          December 7, 2012 at 7:09 am

          I agree with you. The library is smooth and beautiful.

      • Douglas Mutay
        December 6, 2012 at 1:46 pm

        And guess what? the first version of this app was released on 01.06.1996!!!

  17. ReadandShare
    December 5, 2012 at 7:14 am

    Never heard of it. Downloaded it. Liked it (very much)!

    A hearty 'thank you'. Love this kind of articles. Please keep them coming, MUO.

    • Erez Zukerman
      December 5, 2012 at 9:05 am

      Sure thing! :)

  18. vineed gangadharan
    December 5, 2012 at 6:34 am

    irfanview is a great image viewing and editing software ,,i use to use it since i had xp on my first computer fast and fluid plus less on size :)

  19. Manuel Guillermo López Buenfil
    December 5, 2012 at 6:06 am

    I use Irfanview as my default image viewer. It always works fine, except when I want to open an image in a folder with some 5000 files. Then, it takes a few seconds to open, it looks like it first makes an index of the entire folder. That can be a bit annoying, but other than that, it is the best image viewer out there.

    • Erez Zukerman
      December 5, 2012 at 9:05 am

      Really? That's interesting -- do you use it with thumbnails or anything like that?

      • Manuel Guillermo López Buenfil
        December 5, 2012 at 2:59 pm

        No, I don't use it with thumbnails.
        If you look at the program toolbar, it contains a number (in this article, 1/1) which allows you to select an image by its number. To do that, it first has to determine how many files are images in the current folder (in my big folder, it says 1/5768, and it takes like 4 seconds). If I type a number there, it takes me to that image instantly. Also, switching images once the program is open is fast as usual. But figuring out that number when you open the program takes a while.

        • Erez Zukerman
          December 5, 2012 at 3:23 pm

          Interesting! Have never noticed that... Wouldn't expect it to take four seconds to count files (even a great many files), but that's an interesting finding indeed!

  20. Carlo Vincente
    December 5, 2012 at 1:36 am

    I take less than 10 seconds to load, cut borders, resize a photo and save it again using IrfanView´s keyboard shortcuts, sometimes even less time. An amazing piece of software.

  21. Gerald Huber
    December 4, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    I use it too. Thanks for bringing it back up.

  22. Manu
    December 4, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    I've been using it for over 8 years. It's fast, it's easy on resources and it gets the stuff done.
    It was time to see it again in MUO.

    • Erez Zukerman
      December 5, 2012 at 9:05 am

      :) I'm glad you agree, Manu!

  23. Mordalo
    December 4, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    I've been using IrfanView for AGES. It's simply the best, hands down.
    And yes, it does keep things simple, and it 'just works", but don't forget about the extra plug-ins that you can optionally install:

    • Erez Zukerman
      December 5, 2012 at 9:04 am

      Oh yes, very good point! I don't happen to use plugins myself but they do add a lot of value.

  24. Javier Vega
    December 4, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    I'm already using this app since last year as my image viewer, is fast and with a nice interface.