Is my Mac like your Mac? Mine is loaded with nearly 20,000 digital photos, hundreds of personal video clips, and somewhere around 5,000 songs. What’s nice about the Mac is so many apps interchange media files.
What if you want to look closer at the files, especially photos, but other media as well? Mac users rejoice. We have a number of great image and media viewers. From great to free.
Image Files vs. Media Files
Let me clarify the difference between an image file browser and a media file browser. The latter does some of the former, but the former doesn’t do some of the latter. That makes sense, right?
An image viewer does not a media viewer make.
Put another way, if you’re serious about photos, then you want more than the free media browsers. That involves using an app like ViewIt, a lightweight but powerful image viewer.
ViewIt scans your digital photos and displays more information than a typical media browser that may also browse photos. For example, ViewIt lets you view jpegs, TIFFs, png, PSD, RAW, DNG, even animated GIF files.
ViewIt creates thumbnails so you can quickly find your photos. Photos can be sorted, printed, popped into a slide show, even viewed full screen. Plugins let you save or convert the images to other formats and create a contact sheet.
What you don’t get in ViewIt is a way to enhance photos. If you’re serious about photos you already have apps that can enhance images. Unfortunately, most of those apps do not let you browse through thousands of apps like scrolling through butter (Steve Jobs’ phrase).
Media Viewers Gone Wild
Browsing through the media on your Mac is the domain of iLife apps. When you’re in iPhoto or iMovie the built-in media browser lets you choose from music files in iTunes, photos in iPhoto, and movie clips.
iMedia Browser does more. And it’s free. And it works in any app on your Mac, not just Apple’s iLife apps.
You can browse through the photos in iPhoto, in Apple’s Aperture, in Adobe’s Lightroom, the entire Pictures folder on your Mac or anywhere else. Music searchers can browse music in iTunes, naturally, but also in GarageBand or any other folder with music.
Double dog ditto for browsing movies, too. But iMedia Browser also lets you browse browser links from your Safari bookmarks. Just drag and drop.
In fact, the drag and drop works for everything.
Drag and drop photos, movies, music, bookmarks. Not bad for free, huh?
Also free is Xee, an image and nearly-media browser for Mac users that handles more esoteric files. Xee will display image files and browse through folders on your Mac.
It also reads archived files without opening the archives, including Zip, Rar, Stuffit, CBZ, CBR, 7-Zip, and other files. You can rotate and crop jpegs, view EXIF data, and pull images from PDFs and SWF files—not exactly common fare.
ViewIt is a semi-pro photo viewer. Xee is able to view inside archives. Image Browser can be used in other Mac apps. The last two are free and easy.