If my computer was an ocean I could accurately say I am swimming in photographs.
If you are still using Windows Explorer as a photo viewer, there are better ways.
My favorite is FastStone Viewer. This is the main program in the FastStone series, and obviously a labour of love. This photo viewer is constantly being worked on and upgraded, and it’s a source of amazement to me how many options can be fit into one small program. It uses a variety of sub-windows and menus that slide out from the four sides of the screen and everything is easily accessible. I use it many times a day and consider it indispensable. FastStone is not an “organizer” per se, or a full-blown editor, but a great way to see your pictures where they are and do all kinds of simple things with them in one very fast and efficient place.
Then there’s Google’s Picasa. I don’t need a second viewer but there’s something so fascinating about this program I can’t resist keeping it around. It’s fast and smooth and tasty in some unusual ways. It has a very nice editing section where you can edit pictures “forever” without the edits becoming permanent. Or perhaps you’d like to add effects to send elsewhere and then revert to the original for your own files. It has a couple of extra tricks like making photo web pages, posting photos directly to Blogger and making movies. You can also sort pictures into collections and albums without creating duplicates.
Picasa seems more naturally suited to digital pictures. I only say that because all folders are dated whether they need to be or not. And it misses importing some of the older pictures – a curious quandary that I’m still trying to figure out. All in all, it’s a very interesting and useful program, but if you want weird-free I’d say stick to using this for your digitals.
On installation Picasa will ask if you want it to import everything from My Desktop/My Documents/My Pictures or your entire hard-drive. You probably don’t want either but just play along and pick the shorter one. You can change it later in the Folder Manager.
Both of these programs integrate easily with any other editors you use. They’re both worthwhile photo viewers and better alternatives to the very limited default Windows options.