XnView was conceived as an image viewer, but over the years it's developed into much more. As well as providing you with countless way to display browse through your photo collection – including slideshows – XnView also features image editing tools to help you make the most of your photos.
You can convert pictures to different formats, process entire folders of photos as a single batch, and there are even add–ons that can further extend the capabilities of the program. Best of all, it's completely free for private use.
XnView works like a cross between Windows Explorer and a web browser, with a tabbed interface that makes it easy to work with multiple files and tools. The first tab is home to the browser, which you used to navigate through folders of images. Previews are displayed to the right by default (though you can change this using the View menu), and any image you select is opened in a new tab.
When viewing a single picture, XnView switches to editor mode where you can crop, rotate and otherwise tinker with your image. Automated tools like red-eye correction and auto-levels make basic corrections straightforward, and for more dramatic changes there's a huge choice of effects and filters. There's even support for Photoshop plugins, enabling you to extend it to your heart's content. XnView may not be a full replacement for Adobe's heavy-duty editor, but for everyday tweaking – and a bit beyond – it is more than up to the job.
Getting the most out of XnView requires delving through the menu system, but this is hardly an arduous task. With support for a huge range of image formats and an impressive selection of tools, it could be the only photo management and editing tool you need.
There's so much to like about XnView, but the real joy comes from realizing how well thought out it is. Just about every eventuality has been catered for, and there's endless scope for getting the program to work the way you want. Want to preview images in the Windows context menu? No problem. Want to convert between formats or batch process a load of photos with a watermark? Ditto.
There's also TWAIN support for capturing scans of photos, a screen capture tool, and much more. You'll quickly discover that XnView is more of an image toolkit than a viewer.
The installation process is a little strange and confusing. There are three different versions of XnView to download (Minimal, Standard and Extended), with increasing numbers of plugins and extensions. Weirdly, even if you opt to perform a full installation of the Extended version, you still need to select the shell extension and media detector add–ons manually – something that would be all too easy to overlook, and would mean missing out on a couple of valuable (albeit optional) components.
This isn't a major problem, but it's something to watch out for so you get everything you might need installed.
License: Freeware for private use, otherwise commercial
- Operating system: Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 10
- Processor: Not specified
- RAM: Not specified
- Disk space: Not specified