Software Report [Windows Tips: Window's Hidden Image Viewer - 04/06/2005]



April 6th, 2005

Windows Tips: Window's Hidden Image Viewer

Contributing Editor Scott Dunn

When you double-click a .bmp, .gif, .jpg, .tif, or other image file in
Windows Explorer or in any folder window, the file opens in the
Windows Picture and Fax Viewer by default. If you prefer an image
viewer with more functionality, this accessory may be more annoying
than helpful. After all, the utility doesn't even provide a menu bar
to help you figure out what features (if any) it has! But don't be too
quick to dismiss the Picture and Fax Viewer. Some of its best features
are hidden beneath its seemingly simple interface. I'll show you how
to get the most out of these undocumented gems.

Launch the Viewer from an icon

The fastest way to open the Picture and Fax Viewer is to place a
shortcut to the program on your desktop, Quick Launch toolbar, or
Start menu. First, open the folder in which you want the shortcut to
appear. For example, if you want to create a Viewer icon on your Quick
Launch bar, right-click the bar (but not an icon) and choose Open
Folder. Right-click an empty part of the folder (or the desktop, if
that's where you want the shortcut), and choose New, Shortcut. In the
Create Shortcut wizard, "type rundll32.exe
%SystemRoot%\system32\shimgvw.dll,ImageView_Fullscreen" and click
Next. Enter a name for the shortcut, such as Picture Viewer, and click

If you don't like the plain-Jane default icon, right-click it and
select Properties. In the Shortcut tab, click Change Icon. Choose
"Look for icons in this file," type the path to shimgvw.dll
(%SystemRoot%\system32\shimgvw.dll should work on any system), and
press Enter. If you dislike the selection, type "% SystemRoot
%\system32\shell32.dll" and look for a suitable icon in that file.
After selecting an icon, click OK twice.

Now whenever you want to launch the Picture and Fax Viewer, simply
click or double-click the icon in the Quick Launch bar or on the
desktop, or from the Start menu. When you do, the window will state
"No preview available"; but just drag any image file into the window.
To work with multiple files, drag all of them into the window and then
use the Next and Previous buttons on the far left of the toolbar at
the bottom of the window to cycle through the images (alternatively,
you can use your keyboard's left and right arrow keys to change them).

Bonus tip: If you use the Picture and Fax Viewer to open just one file
(either by dragging it into the window or by right-clicking it and
choosing Open With,Windows Picture and Fax Viewer), you can use the
Next and Previous buttons to view other photos in the same folder. But
if you want to work with multiple files in different folders, choose
Start, Search, For Files and Folders, Ctrl-select in the Search
Results window the ones you want to view, and drag them all into the

Print Multiple Photos on a Single Page

If you want to print several small images--such as a page of
wallet-size photos of your kids, a pair of 5-by-7-inch prints from
your wedding, or thumbnails of images from a single event--you
probably don't want to waste expensive photo paper printing one
picture per page. But before you run out to buy a photo editing
program or other utility to manage your image printing, why not give
the Picture and Fax Viewer a try?

Start by using one of the techniques described above to open one or
more photos. Note that if you open a single photo, the wizard will
later give you the option to print every image in the same folder. If
you'd rather see only a limited selection, drag the desired pictures
into the Viewer as discussed in the previous tip.

After the image or images have loaded, click the printer icon at the
bottom of the Viewer, or press Ctrl-P. In the Photo Printing Wizard,
click Next. You'll see all the photos in the current folder or those
you dragged to the Viewer. Use the check boxes in the corner of each
thumbnail to select the files to print, and click Next. Choose your
printer (or go with the default selection) and click Next again.

You'll find a host of hidden options in the Layout Selection screen.
Simply scroll through the list of thumbnail samples to find the best
arrangement for your photos. You can even mix and match layouts if you
want. For example, if you would like five small photos of each of the
seven pictures that you need to print, select "Contact sheet" from the
"Available layouts" list and type the number 5 in the "Number of times
to use each picture" box underneath. The right side of the wizard will
show you a preview of the layout with the actual photos you selected.
The options for smaller prints rotate your pictures on their sides to
make the best fit on the paper. Look very carefully at the preview of
these small images, because the wizard will crop the edges of photos
that don't quite fit the proportions of the specified page size. Once
you've selected your layout, make sure your printer has the right
paper, and click Next. When the printing is done, click Finish if you
like the result, or Back to change the layout or other settings and
try again.

Use the Viewer With Other Apps

The Picture and Fax Viewer is handy for some tasks, but not others.
Fortunately, the utility simplifies the task of finding the photo you
want to work on and then opening it in a more functional image editing
program such as Adobe's Photoshop. If you've already installed
Photoshop, your image files may be associated with that program and
you can skip to the next paragraph. If Picture and Fax Viewer is set
as your default image viewer but you want to use another image editor,
right-click the image file and choose Open With, Choose Program.
Select the image application you want to use as a photo editor (click
the Browse button to find it, if necessary) and check "Always use the
selected program to open this kind of file." End by clicking OK.

From now on, if you just want to view or print images, open them in
the Picture and Fax Viewer. When you want to edit a photo or perform
some other operation that the Picture and Fax Viewer can't handle,
however, click the icon at the bottom right of the Viewer, or simply
press Ctrl-E. Don't right-click the image and choose Edit unless you
want it to open in Windows Paint. Note that if you don't have a
default image editor, the file will open in Paint.

Get Instant Slide Shows

Last but not least, the Picture and Fax Viewer is useful for creating
impromptu slide shows. Read Dave Johnson's March Step-By-Step column
for more on creating slide shows:

* Windows Toolbox *

Enhance Windows' Quick Launch With Free Launch Bar: Windows' Quick
Launch toolbar (right-click the taskbar and choose Toolbars,Quick
Launch if you don't see it) lets you create a shortcut by dragging an
application, document, or folder from Explorer or any folder window to
the toolbar. If you add too many shortcuts, however, Quick Launch
becomes so cluttered it's nearly useless. TrueSoft's Free Launch Bar
adds many useful features that Quick Launch lacks:

For example, the free program adds folders to the toolbar whose
contents appear as highly customizable menus when you click them. (You
can do this without Free Launch Bar, but only if you make the toolbar
so small that the folders appear in a pop-up menu when you click theTrueSoft's True Launch Bar, which comes with plug-ins that display
system info, weather forecasts, and more:

Send Windows-related questions and tips to Scott Dunn at:
scott_dunn *

Read Scott Dunn's regularly published "Windows Tips" columns:

"This became a credo of mine... attempt the impossible in order to improve your work."
-- Bette Davis


April 6th, 2005

Windows Tips: Window's Hidden Image Viewer

Contributing Editor Scott Dunn

When you double-click a .bmp, .gif, .jpg, .tif, or other image file in
Windows Explorer or in any folder window, the file opens in the
Windows Picture and Fax Viewer by default.

Most readers here will have Irfanview open these files by default.

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