They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and more often than not, we experience how true this statement is. This is one of the key reasons that a lot of emphasis goes into applications and services that deal with images. Within the Microsoft Windows environment, dealing with images, organizing and moving them, etc. is not that much of a hassle anyway especially when it comes to Windows 7. However, one thing that I often face during organizing images (particularly the snaps from my latest camping trip last weekend) is the lack of differentiation between thumbnails of similar images. Suppose I had snapped 2-3 photos of the same landscape, only to keep the best one; I need to preview the image in some program before deciding what to keep. Sure, I can switch to filmstrip, but then I cannot view as many images in one go as I’d normally like.
This is where I found this rather useful context menu enhancement tool for Windows, going by the name of FastPreview. In a nutshell, this tool displays a custom-sized thumbnail of an image in Windows’ right-click context menu.
FastPreview is primarily a tweak that adds some functionality, and not a full application, so you won’t find any installation icon for it. What’s more, it offers is its own image viewer, in case you find that the thumbnail isn’t big enough. Clicking the thumbnail in the context menu will launch a fit-to-screen preview of the selected image.
One thing lacking in the FastPreview Viewer is a zoom function, but the application is in development so we can expect it in future versions.
One point to note here is that it cannot show context-menu previews for multiple images at the same time. In such a scenario, only the first image in selection will be previewed while others wait.
FastPreview also adds an additional tab to Windows’ native Image Properties dialog, giving more in-depth EXIF data, ITPC and XMP information, image location, type, dimensions, etc. A dedicated preview of the image can also be launched from this new tab.
The EXIF data presented in the new FastPreview tab contains highly detailed information about the image, including every camera setting available in my Canon PowerShot A490. This, however, varies from one camera to the other, since I did not find such in-detail data for shots from my iPhone 4.
Since the application has no icon, it’s Settings & Info are also available from the right-click context menu in Windows. You get a list of supported formats as well as option to choose context-menu thumbnail size.
FastPreview supports over 30 image formats at present. The program is open source and available for both 32- and 64-2bit operating systems. It’s supported on Windows XP and later.