In the past, I’ve tried a number of photo editors and organizers, but for the last couple of years I’ve settled on FastStone Image Viewer for basic editing and organizing/viewing thumbnails. I won’t give a walk-through here as it’s really quite intuitive and fun to explore. Suffice to say, if you aren’t happy with your photo editor/organizer, give it a try. It’s freeware, and is only a small download. Photo thumbnails are viewed in folders just as in Windows Explore. In full screen mode, you can move your mouse to the edges of the screen to bring up menus. The program is well capable of brightness corrections, cropping, and red eye removal – basically the editing we want to be doing most of the time. For more complex editing, I use Serif PhotoPlus, but more about that in another post.
FastStone also complements this program with two others which I find really useful. FastStone Photo Resizer and FastStone Capture. Photo Resizer, also freeware, will batch shrink your images for uploading online while FastStone Capture is an excellent little utility for screen captures.
I’ll just highlight a point from each to illustrate how I use them. In Photo Resizer, I usually just shrink images by 50% to get them to a manageable size, but this is completely configurable. Just click the Advanced Options button and select 50% there. The program can also batch rename your files.
In FastStone Capture, I usually just need a rectangular capture – the third button from the left on the image below. It’s very easily done and you save the screen grab to the folder of your choice.
The current version of FastStone Capture is 6.3 and this is shareware with a 30-day trial period. The cost of the licence is $19.95. However, excellent, older freeware versions of FastStone Capture are available here.
Check out the FastStone stable of software. I know there are umpteen image editing products out there but I find that these three utilities are really intuitive and well worth exploring. They all work with Windows XP and Vista.