Photo Editing Functions in Irfanview Image Viewer

© Heidi I. Koehler

This post is about image management using the image viewer Irfanview. I have been using this program for a long time- more than 10 years starting with version 385 and it is now at version 4.37. It is a free program that is deceptively simple looking and I am still discovering features it probably had for a long time but I wasn't aware of.

 The search function for instance. For almost as long as I've used Irfanview I've also used a search program called AgentRansack which, when I first tried it out, turned out to work better than Windows search and I believe it was because it was accessing what is now commonly called 'Metadata'. Metadata is simply information that is imbedded or encoded into files from the program that created the file or manually added in by the user

With photos and many digital images the user can include information like who took the picture, what the picture shows, etc. under information Fields (you can think of fields as labels or categories of information) such as Copyright, Caption, etc. There are many, many more fields than these two are the most important. In this day and age where most photos are recorded as digital images there has to be some way of identifying the ownership and content since we can't flip the digital file and scribble on the back like in the old days.

But getting back to Irfanview's features here are some of the best:
Drag and Drop. This is new and much appreciated!
Speed. The program opens very quickly and displays thumbnails of images that you can specify a particular size for.
Selective Loading. You can choose to display all images from subfolders- very handy when you have a large folder/directory structure.
Searching. I just discovered this. Images can be searched based on the contents of their meta data. This is an incredibly useful feature when you regularly edit the caption fields of your images.
Using Irfanview-1-Search Files
All of these things are only useful of course if you make a conscious effort to always include the captioning of your images- this isn't simply something journalist do- it's simply the modern equivalent of writing on the back of a hard copy photo.

Using Irfanview-2-Search Criteria
It should also be said that you should always use 'test images' to try out the features of any program including this one. It has resampling, renaming, and converting functions that might differ from systems you may have used before or never used! :)

Using Irfanview-3-Load Thumbnails from subfolders
One thing that might be helpful to know as well: metadata - or rather the fields that hold the metadata- are somewhat standardized but different programs will create different fields. I am used to referring to the metadata fields I use as IPTC but you will encouter EXIF data (which pertains to camera info) and XMP (similar image fields as IPTC). Windows (and probably Macs) have their own proprietary fields as well. This can get confusing and Irfanview keeps it simple.

Using Irfanview-4-Thumnails loaded
My own experience is that Irfanview's IPTC fields of Author (byline), Copyright, Caption (description), and Credits fields are almost universally the same in other programs that handle images. This is important because using software like Adobe- and particularly it's Keywording or whatever metadata editing terms it uses- tends to be proprietary. Proprietary means it's only useful in the program that created it- and IPTC is not proprietary. I can open any of my photos that I've edited IPTC fields with Irfanview in any other program and that data can be found and read.
That's the most important thing.

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