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Irfanview Installation (for Windows PCs)
Irfanview is a powerful image viewing application with very wide format compatibility. It is the application in use on my viewing computers which I set up at competitions, and I recommend using it to view your photos, as well as to perform a variety of editing operations. When set up, it will automatically rotate your photos right-side-up and fit them to your screen.
To install Irfanview, open the Iviewxxx folder on your photo CD, and double-click on the iviewxxx_setup.exe file (where xxx is the version number, such as 410). As you go through the setup process, be sure to check at least the box for JPG/JPEG/JPE files on the third page of the setup dialog; you may also wish to select GIF, PNG, TIF and other common image file formats that you use.
When setup is finished, I also recommend installing the plugins by double-clicking on irfanview_plugins_xxx_setup.exe; this is a very quick installation, and greatly increases the number of image file formats that Irfanview can support.
Double-click on any .JPG file, to start up Irfanview with that file. Initially, the photo will display sideways and at 100% resolution (you will only be able to see one corner on your screen). Press F to change the size to fit your display and show the entire picture. Then press P to bring up the Properties dialog box. Near the top of the box, you should see an auto-rotate option; click to check the box for this option, then click OK. (If you don't see the auto-rotate option, click on the JPG/PCD/GIF tab to select the correct page.)
Now, when you advance to the next frame (using the space bar, or a cursor key), it will display right-side-up. Irfanview will remember these settings, and use them the next time you open it.
Take a few minutes to quickly run through and try out the basic features described here.
The F key will toggle between fit-to-display (where you see the entire picture) and 100% (full detail) view, so it can be used at any time to zoom to 100% or back. Or, you can zoom in and out in small steps with the + or - (hyphen) keys. When zoomed in, you can use the right mouse button to drag the image around, or use the bottom or right-side sliders. If you want to zoom in to a specific area, drag a box around it with the left mouse button, then left-click inside the box. Return to normal image size by pressing F.
You can lighten or darken the image, if desired, using the Enhance Colors dialog box. Press shift-G to open the box. Basic exposure is best adjusted using the Gamma correction slider; as a guide, most lightening will use Gamma values of about 1.20 to 1.70. Note that when increasing Gamma, it is usually desirable to increase Contrast slightly as well. Color saturation can also be adjusted separately (but do this last, since Contrast adjustment also affects Saturation).
Use of the Brightness and Color balance sliders is not recommended. Leave these in their center positions unless you know exactly what effect they have. The color balance sliders have an uneven effect, and will impact dark shades much more than light ones.
Start by using the left mouse button to drag a box approximately around the portion of the photo that you want to crop to. After drawing the box, you can move it by dragging it from the inside with the right mouse button.
Adjust the size of the box by putting the mouse cursor over any edge line and dragging it with the left mouse button.
When you adjust the box size, you will see the dimensions (in pixels) and the ratio of the crop box shown in the top bar of the window. [Tip: If your image is very narrow, you may need to widen the Irfanview window in order to see all of this information.] This is helpful for you to make the crop the correct shape for various common print sizes. For example, if you are cropping for an 8x10 print, set the ratio to 0.800 (tall) or 1.250 (wide).
When the crop box is adjusted the way you want it, press alt-E, then R to perform the crop.
Resaving Files and Adjusting Size
The changes you make to an image with Irfanview will not be kept unless the file is resaved. Press S to open the Save dialog box. Enter a new file name if you want to preserve the original file. Select JPEG for the save file type. This will open up a special JPEG/GIF save options box; this box has a quality slider which controls how large the JPEG file will be. For small size, I suggest about 80-85% quality (you can go lower, but 70% is the lowest recommended). For medium quality, use about 90-92%, or to keep the original quality use about 95-97%.
Be sure to check the "Save in" folder shown at the top of the Save Picture dialog box, and change it to the desired folder, if necessary.
When working with JPEG files, it's best to do all changes in one session. Avoid repeated save/reopen cycles, as each time a JPEG image is saved and opened again, the quality drops slightly. If you want to temporarily save your work on an image, and return to make further changes at a later time, you can prevent image degradation by using TIF format for the temporary copy.
Additional File Size Reduction
You can make image files smaller by resampling them, for uses where you do not need the full original resolution of the file, e.g., email, web posting or small prints. Press alt-I, then M to select the resampling dialog box.
For a quick reduction to half-resolution, you can click on the Half button on the right. For other sizes, first make sure the 'Preserve aspect ratio' box is checked (lower left). Then you can type a new width in either pixels or percent into one of the width boxes, and Irfanview will automatically set the height to match.
For the Size method (lower right side of the dialog box), I recommend Resample rather than Resize. Click OK to resample the image to the new size.
There are many other functions that Irfanview provides. You can get a good overview by going into the Help and looking at the list of keyboard shortcuts, since most Irfanview functions have hot keys. Some noteworthy features: Thumbnail view, slide show, make contact sheet, image rotate/flip, batch file processing, show image data (EXIF), screen capture, set Windows wallpaper, cut/paste (edit image or make collages, etc.), add text, sharpening, fine rotation, special effects and filters, photo organizing (rename/copy/move/delete).
Last Update: June 26, 2008.