Featured Freeware: PicLens

Cross-platform, cross-browser, and proud of it, browser plug-in PicLens is to Web surfing as an IMAX screen is to a 13-inch laptop monitor.

Cross-platform, cross-browser, and proud of it, browser plug-in PicLens is to Web surfing as an IMAX screen is to a 13-inch laptop monitor. In theory, it takes the images it finds on a Web site, expands them to super-extra-large size, and then lets you surf through them in a classy scaling interface that we think we last saw in Iron Man. Or maybe it was The Dark Knight.

Installing it places a button on the Toolbar. When you're on a PicLens-enabled Web site, click the PicLens button to activate the PicLens interface. Your screen will go black, and all the images on the site will zoom past you as if on a roller-coaster. They stop soon after, and from there you can surf the site using the subtly-placed search bar at the top of your monitor. Click on an image to enlarge it. If it's a still image, it simply enlarges. If it's a video, it enlarges and starts playing.

No doubt, PicLens puts the "graphic" back in "graphic user interface." However, it doesn't work on every Web site. It requires back-end code to be installed on the server hosting the site in question, and so the plug-in only supports a handful of the most popular graphics-intensive sites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Picasa, Flickr, and a few others. A WordPress plug-in allows users of that blogging system to create PicLens functionality, and there's a Webmaster's guide on the PicLens site for users who host their own sites.

There are minor but noticeable stability issues in the Internet Explorer version, and Safari support is extant but not extensive. Even though PicLens is best used with Firefox, installing the add-on is worth it just for the sweeping, futuristic way that images stream by when you browse.

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