I don’t know why, but I think I may drop IrfanView this year. Well, I know why – more and more good image viewers/editors keep showing up and existing ones get better with each new version, while my favorite seems to remain stuck in its old ways. Could also be the fact that, sometimes, I simply get bored with my favorite programs, especially when there are plenty of alternatives offering similar features?
Anyway, today we’re not going to answer any of the questions above, we’re just going to talk about a free program that seems like a really interesting candidate to a place in my league of extraordinary Windows applications, namely Fly Free Photo Editing & Viewer…
… a program that recently reached version 2.99.3 and works with most of the popular Windows versions available as I write this – Windows 2000, XP, Vista. The problem is that Fly Free Photo Editing & Viewer’s online documentation claims it works with “Windows 2000, XP, Vista,” but I never seen a program that works with Vista and doesn’t work with 7 so far, so I am almost sure you should also be able to run it on a Windows 7 computer without problems. In case you’re curious, all I can tell you is that I run it on my Windows XP SP3 machine and works like a charm!
While system requirements may seem a bit high for some people (1 GB of memory and 2 GB of free disk space are recommended), at least the setup process is a piece of cake, despite the fact I don’t understand the need to pack the setup program inside a self-extracting archive. Well… we’re only talking about a 5.4 MB download, 23 MB of free disk space required (this is the amount of space used by the program after installation, but temporary files will surely need some more), no toolbars or spyware, so I think we should move to the looks and works, as usual, don’t you think?
Today, I spent some time reading about this program, especially other people’s opinions about it, and I must confess I was shocked to see users complaining about it not being friendly. Come on, people! Maybe a big red button in the middle of the screen and a 256 pages manual explaining how to use it would be good…
… so let me say that Fly Free Photo Editing & Viewer is friendly enough to me (tabbed interface with Mac OS X-style skin FTW!!!), although I am sure it won’t become my best friend anytime soon. After all, there’s no multilanguage support, no documentation as I would like to see and, worst of all, there’s not a single trace of a general settings area – you only get to use everything “as is” and you can only mess with some options here and there, nothing more. A real shame, if you ask me.
According to the official mumbo-jumbo, this program allows you to “view, edit, enhance and manipulate your pictures easily” so, no matter how much I may like some features and hate others, it’s clearly much better than the image viewer coming with your Windows version, no doubt about it! On the other hand…
… features that look really interesting in theory, like Flickr/Facebook upload simply don’t work. I have no idea why – they simply don’t work and that’s all, all right?
Fortunately, other things seem to work like a charm – for example, batch resizing and creation of PowerPoint presentations. As you can see in the images at the end of this review, using these features isn’t hard at all – you’ll get some basic wizards to guide you during the few steps required to get the job done, so even beginners should be happy with Fly Free Photo Editing & Viewer… at least as long as everything works as expected, of course.
Oh, my, but how could I skip the list of supported file formats? Well, there’s not much of a list, trust me – this program can open only a few file types (BMP, JPG, GIF, PNG, PSD, TIFF and TGA), while its saving capabilities are really limited – only BMP, JPG, GIF and PNG. Anyway, I am sure that most of the average home users using this program won’t need more than these, so I don’t think we can say we have a problem here… it’s only the fact that the competition can handle more. Much more.
Browsing your image folder feels great, adding text or performing various basic image transformations is really easy and, in case you don’t want to keep your Web browser running while working with Fly Free Photo Editing & Viewer, I am sure you’ll find the internal browser to be pretty cool, especially since you can use it to search images with Google or simply to browse the Web…
… but I think this program’s just a nice attempt at reaching much higher heights, nothing more, so let’s move to the final part – I think I’ve had enough.
Tips & Tricks
1. When performing huge batch operations, be sure to check if there’s enough space on the destination drive to save the output.
2. Opening Facebook and entering your account using the internal Web browser won’t help you use the Facebook upload feature – in my case, at least, this still left me facing an error saying “Upload Facebook Error.” and nothing more…
3. Don’t expect the E-Mail Photo command to work with Thunderbird or any other email client you may have installed, except Microsoft Outlook.
Fly Free Photo Editing & Viewer 2.99 looks pretty good to me, using it should be easy enough for most people, the amount of system resources used is decent (could have been much worse, trust me!) and, best of all, you get a free program that offers quite a few features, despite the fact that it’s still way behind its competitors…
… and if that’s not bad enough, add a few features that don’t work at all, lack of offline documentation, multilanguage support, a general settings area and some interface glitches. Not really the software of my dreams, if you ask me.
At first sight, Fly Free Photo Editing & Viewer 2.99 seems to be much better than it actually is, but as soon as you spend a few minutes with it, its various problems become obvious. As I said before, this is a pretty good replacement for the image viewer coming with Windows, but it’s surely no match for programs like XnView or IrfanView. That’s all, folks!