When all you want to do is shrink or expand an image to a specific size, launching an image-editing application like Adobe Photoshop Elements, or even GIMP, FastStone, or Paint.NET is overkill. The program has to load. Then you have to browse for the image. That's precisely when a specialized application like VSO Image Resizer becomes the instrument you reach for.
Unburdened by all those powerful effects engines, this fairly bare-bones resizer loads quickly and does you the favor of popping open an image-selection browser for choosing one or more files from a given folder. Bam! That's one unavoidable step out of the way. OK, so the nag screen does slow you down each time you open the app. The program really is free for individual use as advertised, but everyone's suspected of being a business customer who is repeatedly and quietly shirking the publisher's requirement to purchase a license.
After selecting your image, you'll type in the resolution--the dimensions in pixels or percentages that you'd like your reproportioned image to take--or choose some presets from a drop-down list. Desktop, iPod photo, and HDTV are among the suggestions.
I recommend clicking "More" to get at useful controls for safeguarding the aspect ratio and quality, and adding a few color-changing effects like sepia tone and grayscale. Choosing the output destination and whether to resize the original or create a copy are actions you can take from either mode.
The resizing operation will be over before you blink. Don't expect to see a preview image or an image editor open for manual tweaking. You won't bestow upon the image a new name, either. It's just not that type of touchy-feely program. When it's done, it closes. This no-nonsense approach may be too toughened for your taste if visual scaling is what you're after. In that case, you'd do better with the Web app Resizr.
As another drawback, VSO Image Resizer's autoclosing makes it a pain to use for frequent or sequential resizing since you'll have to launch the app anew for each request. However, much of the fuss can be avoided by using Launchy to open the app. On balance, VSO Image Resizer is a speedy, no-fuss solution for one-off resizers who know what they want.