By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 1999, The Syracuse Newspapers
The best image viewer for Windows just got better. If you're using any other viewer, you're missing out on a lot.
The program is ACDSee, available from http://www.acdsee.com/products/acdsee/. It costs $40 for the modern Windows version or $26 for a less advanced version that works under the older version of Windows. You can get a trial version for free.
ACDSee is fast. When I say "fast," I don't mean fast. I mean FAST, as in Corvette or Atlas Centaur. ACDSee is without question the fastest image viewer for Windows and probably the fastest viewer you can buy for any operating system. I've tried dozens over the last few years, and nothing comes close.
ACDSee also has the best user interface of all the Windows image viewers I've tried. I look at it this way: The best interface is the one that isn't there. So here's how ACDSee works:
First you install it and make sure all the file types are checked off. (If you've klutzed yourself into an installation without checking on this, run ACDSee and open the Tools menu. Choose Options and then Miscellaneous, then click Check file associations and make sure all of the little boxes have checkmarks.)
Then whenever you want to view an image of any kind, you double click on it. That's all you do. ACDSee quickly shows the image. The ACDSee window is the size of the image plus a little bit for the window border and title bar. That's it. That's all. You don't end up with am 800-lb. gorilla program to show a 16-oz. picture. You just see the image on your screen.
Ah, but here's where ACDSee becomes sophisticated. Lets say you're viewing the picture. You realize there are other images in the same folder you want to look at. Just hit the Enter key and ACDSee does a backflip and turns into an image browser.
I want to explain this again, since all the ACDSee users I've ever talked to told me they didn't realize this function existed. When you're viewing an image, pressing the Enter key turns ACDSee into an image browser, with a file list on one side and big thumbnail views on the other. At any time, pressing Enter again while a filename is highlighted flips ACDSee back to its other mode and it shows the image.
This flip-flop operation works so quickly that it makes all other image viewers seem stupid by comparison. Don't take my word for it. Try it out and see for yourself. Ill bet you wont ever go back to your slowpoke viewer again.
But this gets better. While you're viewing a picture, you can immediately send the picture to your standard image-editing software (Paint Shop Pro, for example) by pressing a key combination. Or you can run a slide slow. (The slide show in ACDSee is the best on the planet. Because ACDSee is so fast, it never chugs and huffs and puffs when it comes across really big images.)
Here's something added recently:
Ever scan a lot of pictures and end up with a whole bunch that are upside down? No problem for ACDSee. Hitting Alt-Up Arrow flips them rightside-up. Or you can flip pictures left or right with Alt and the other arrow keys. This image-flipping mode is not, as you might suspect, a way for ACDSee to flip them on the screen. It turns them over on the disk, too, so they'll look right from that point on. (And that's why it wont work for images on a CD-ROM. It cant write the corrected picture back to the CD.)
ACDSee does a lot of other stuff, too. It can show everything full-screen if you'd like. It can enlarge any picture that's small so that its as big as possible on the screen or reduce the size of any picture that's too big so you see all of it. It can show the name of the picture or leave it out for a neater display.
ACDSee isn't free, so it doesn't qualify for my Best Freeware Image Viewer award. (I just made that award up, but it sure sounds good.) That title goes to IrfanView, which you can get from http://www.download.com. (Just type irfanview in the search line.)
IrfanView tries to do too much but its great software. Don't let it take over movie files (AVIs), because Microsoft's own software does it better. I like IrfanView but I think you should cough up the dough for ACDSee no matter what. Its that good.