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Guide: IrfanView vs XnView: Comparison and Review
To open photos on the PC, you need a photo viewer app. Microsoft offers a native app to do this known as Microsoft Photos. However, not everyone is a fan of the Microsoft Photos app, the successor to Windows Photos Viewer. Some aren’t happy with the speed, while others don’t like the interface.
This makes people look for alternatives to the Photos app. While there are many, there are two special IrfanView and XnView. You may be wondering which one to use.
Do not you worry. We’ve done the hard work for you. In this post, we will compare IrfanView and XnView. At the end, you can judge which photo viewer to use on Windows 10 PC.
Let’s start.back to menu ↑
You might think that a photo viewer app weighs at least over 50MB, given the amount of work expected of it. However, both apps are less than that. While XnView is going up up to 20 MB, IrfanView has a negligible size of only 3MB.
Think of XnView as a good gallery app where you can see all folders and images in it. Clicking on an image will open it in the full version. It even supports tabbed view so you can open multiple images at the same time.
XnView also offers some of the viewing and sorting modes that one would expect from a photo viewer app. You can get a feature and layout. The whole app is customizable. So you can make it look and work the way you want.
On the other hand, IrfanView does not list images in the app. You must use the Open option in the app to view individual images. Then you can use the navigation keys to navigate between the images in that particular folder. You can also view images in it from any folder on the PC using the Open With option. While it also offers a thumbnail view, the thumbnails open in a separate window.
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User interface plays an important role in a photo viewer. Both apps have the old Windows interface with menus at the top. I prefer the old layout rather than the modern interface of Windows apps.
Either way, in IrfanView you will find the File, Edit, Options, View and Help menus at the top. Clicking on either will bring up additional options. Below the menu bar is the toolbar with important items. Next you have the image. At the bottom is the status bar with information such as image size, dimensions, date added, etc. You can change the theme of the buttons in the app.
Although XnView also has a similar interface with the main menu at the top, followed by the toolbar. However, there are several tabs in between if you open multiple images.
Unlike IrfanView, where the main area is occupied only by the image, here you will find the image explorer on the left with an image preview window on the right. Clicking on an image will open it in one of the tabs. You can keep scrolling through the images without the full screen mode. If you don’t like the layout, you can adjust it under View> Layout.
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Speed - fast is better
While both apps are fast, IrfanView feels a bit faster. I tried to view a folder with 15MB images in both the apps and IrfanView was quick to change the images. There was a slight delay in XnView. You will not notice any difference for smaller images, they are large images where you can feel that one comes before the other.back to menu ↑
Editing and effects
While both apps provide basic editing tools, they are not easy to spot. You will need to take some time to understand where each option is. Once you have them in your hands, you can easily use them. Frankly, both offer similar operations featuresYou can change the canvas size, crop images automatically, invert colors, add filters and accomplish a lot more with it.
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In case you were wondering about plugin support, we’re happy to say they both support plugins. While some plugins are preinstalled, you can install others from the website.
XnView supports plugins such as HEIF, OpenRaster, WebP format, ZIP, FTP, Paint, etc. Likewise IrfanView lets you download plugins such as AWD, DPX, FTP, KDC, Paint, Real audio, etc.back to menu ↑
In addition to being able to view and edit photos, these apps also allow you to perform other functions. For example, you can batch process files, swap colors, save files in different formats, set as wallpaper, view EXIF information, etc. Furthermore, both support all known file formats.back to menu ↑
Everything is free
Fortunately, you don’t have to pay a cent to use an app for personal use. However, if you plan to use XnView for commercial purposes, you will need to purchase a license.
Fun fact: IrfanView is named after the developer of the app (Irfan) who runs the software on his own.back to menu ↑
Which app should you use?
I prefer XnView for its interface. Although IrfanView is faster for large files, XnView feels more user-friendly to me. That said, several people swear by IrfanView and have been using it for years. I would suggest downloading both apps and using them for a few days. Your personal need will help identify the best one for you.
The next up: Do you want to permanently display dimensions or another column in the file explorer? Here is how to adding columns in Windows 10.back to menu ↑
IrfanView vs XnView: Comparison and Review: benefits
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