Get in the Pixia

Pixia is a free image-editing and drawing program. It's essentially the English language edition of a popular Japanese application. Like many such tools, it offers Photoshop-like capabilities such as layers, multiple undos, and plug-ins; it will even accept Photoshop's plug-ins. The difference, of course, is that Pixia is free, something Photoshop certainly is not.

Pixia's installer is so polite, it even asked to be associated with its proprietary file format. The program's interface resembles similar applications' layouts. Pixia uses pop-ups to configure items like filters and masks, and expandable Palette, Color, Pen, and Layer windows that … Read more

Google offers JPEG alternative for faster Web

It turns out there was more to Google's WebM technology than just a plan to revolutionize Web-based video. The company also wants to revolutionize still images on the Web with a new format called WebP.

Google plans to announce the new WebP graphics format today along with its research that indicates its use could cut image file sizes by 40 percent compared to today's dominant JPEG file format. That translates to faster file transfers and lower network burden if Google can convince people to adopt WebP.

WebP, like JPEG, lets its users trade off image quality for file … Read more

Covered up

Chances are, if you've had your computer for any amount of time, you've burned a CD or DVD and needed a cover for it. UnderCoverXP makes it easy to create covers for a variety of types of digital media. It's not a design program, exactly; it's more of a utility for scaling images to the right size and printing them so that they'll fit in whatever type of case you're using. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of making covers; UnderCoverXP gets the dimensions right every time.

The program's interface is … Read more

Perplexing PDFs

The first time we tried to use Foxonic Professional, we didn't understand it. But we hadn't slept well the night before, so we decided to set it aside and come back to it when we were feeling a little more focused. Our second attempt at understanding Foxonic Professional was more successful, but the fact remains that some aspects of the program just don't make any sense.

The program's interface is plain and not particularly intuitive. For the most part it just consists of a file viewer that allows users to navigate to and select the files … Read more

Lightroom plug-in helps avoid overlarge JPEGs

It's a fair question for photography enthusiasts uploading their latest shots to the Web or backing up an archive: where do you set the JPEG quality slider?

Sure, a higher setting means more quality but bigger files, but beyond that vagueness, it's a question without easy answers. Happily, at least for those using Adobe Systems' Lightroom software for photo editing and cataloging, there's an answer coming.

That's because Lightroom plug-in programmer Jeffrey Friedl is adding some quality automation tools to his image export software. Earlier this month he posted an analysis of Lightroom's JPEG photo qualityRead more

Pics by the batch

AutoBatch It from iRedSoft Technology is a batch image-processing utility consisting of two "modules," one that operates from the command line prompt, and another for timer-based operation that resides in the system tray. The program can save images as JPEG, TIFF, PNG, BMP, and GIF files; add prefixes and suffixes to file names; resize images; and create thumbnails.

AutoBatch It is actually easy to use, even if you don't have much experience with the command prompt. The dialog-based interface has three sections: Image Processing Properties, for setting resizing options; Image Manipulation, which lets you set the interval … Read more

No-frills conversions

We frequently find ourselves needing to convert or resize images to e-mail to friends, post on blogs, or share on social networking Web sites. All the full-featured images editing programs can take care of these tasks, but we're sure we're not the only ones who don't want to launch a huge program for such a simple job. Kigo Image Converter is a lightweight program that makes quick work of image conversion and resizing, and offers a few extra features to boot.

The program's interface is plain and intuitive, and we had no trouble figuring out how … Read more

Get it straight

Not infrequently we see friends and family members sharing photos online that are sideways, often with the disclaimer, "Sorry, I don't know how to rotate it." If you're one of these orientation-challenged people--or if you're just looking for an easy way to rotate many photos at once--try Batch JPEG Rotator. This simple program doesn't do much, but it does make it extremely easy to rotate your digital images.

The program's interface is sleek and intuitive. A large open work area dominates the interface, with a menu down the side giving users access to … Read more

Tag, you're it!

Modern-day digital cameras can record a wealth of information about the photos they take, everything from details about the camera itself to exposure and flash information. One other very useful type of information that can be stored within image files is location data. Although many newer cameras have GPS capabilities built-in, images taken with older cameras may lack this information. Panorado Flyer makes it easy to add location data to existing images using Google Earth, ensuring that you'll never again look at a photo and wonder, "Where was that taken?"

Panorado Flyer is incredibly easy to use. … Read more

Spotty performance

As its name would suggest, Konverter does indeed give users the ability to convert their files to a wide variety of different file formats, and it does so with ease. But its other included features didn't quite measure up.

The program's simple, self-explanatory main interface features drop-down menus lining the top of the window, as well as frequently used commands. We started by testing the Convert option. The program offers an impressive list of file format options, including PNG, PTIFF, SGI, and more. We selected a JPEG file and, using the Convert menu, opted to convert it to … Read more