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Portable image package

This free portable image editor packs more tools than most.

FastStone Image Viewer Portable is a full-featured image-handling application that happens to be totally portable and totally free. It's an image file browser, editor, and converter that bundles the most useful editing tools, such as red-eye removal, lossless rotation, resizing, and color adjustment, as well as various effects, text, captions, and frames. It creates self-running slideshows, photo contact sheets, wallpaper, and other displays; downloads digital photos; converts, renames, and changes the attributes of batches of files; changes time stamps; compares images; splits and combines files; captures screen images; e-mails images; and a lot more.

FastStone Image Viewer's fully customizable interface can also be reskinned for a new look. It's packed with controls but it never felt too busy, with colorful, logically grouped icons that displayed labels when we hovered our cursor over them. The program scanned our system and displayed a tree view, from which we selected some folders of images. FastStone populated the main view with thumbnails and opened a preview pane beneath the left-hand navigation tree's panel. We sampled the program's various tools and effects, all of which worked as expected, and then sampled the Create menu, opening the slideshow wizard. Using this, we quickly created a 12MB self-running slideshow out of two folders of images totaling nearly 50MB on the disk, with transition effects, though we skipped the optional music track. We could play the slideshow in a full-screen view that displayed useful information like EXIF data and editing options when we rolled the cursor to the right or left edge of the screen. The Image Strip Builder is an interesting wizard for creating strips of images, such as a filmstrip or an animation sequence. It's easy to overlook the lossless JPEG rotator, but it preserves image quality when you rotate images, something a surprising number of tools can't do.

We were mighty impressed with FastStone Image Viewer Portable as a comprehensive image manager that can go head to head with some expensive competition, but even more that it's totally portable and not too big to fit on a flash drive. It's a keeper.

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