Do you ever have the need to browse through a large collection of photos? These aren’t photos you necessarily want to add to your photo collection, so using a program like iPhoto (which will automatically make copies of all the pictures), is not a good option. You can certainly use the Mac OS X browse feature in the Finder to look at the pictures, but those only give small thumbnails, and while Preview is an option as well, it’s fairly limited as to what it can do.
Pixelwalker, a free program from Hartung Design, on the other hand, may just be the perfect solution.
Pixelwalker is a photo viewer. It isn’t an editor, it isn’t a converter, and it isn’t a collection manager. It simply allows the user to look at a large collection of photos, and do it in a wide variety of ways. As you can see from the series of four screen shots, PixelWalker is very flexible.
If you want to use a standard hierarchical menu to drill down into your file system, PixelWalker lets you do this. This is, however (in spite of the fact that it’s PixelWalker’s default method of viewing images), my least favorite method. I like that everywhere on my computer is available to me at all times, but since I’m fairly targeted in what I want to be viewing, I feel that – at least in most cases – simply opening a folder of photos is good enough.
PixelWalker has another way of viewing (the second picture), which is very similar to how a lot of photo collection managers allow users to view photos. The highlighted picture is displayed as large as it will fit in the lower portion of the window, while small thumbnail images are in a horizontal ribbon that stretches as far (left to right) as the window allows, then in as many rows as necessary. To move from picture to picture, simply click on the next thumbnail (or use one of the keyboard commands).
The next method for browsing a series of pictures is similar to iPhoto’s library feature. You will see a full screen of thumbnail images, and simply need to double-click on one to be shown the full-size image. This has the advantage of showing a whole bunch of photos all at once, which makes finding the “perfect” one easier, since less scrolling is necessary to see the entire collection. On the other hand, there is no “large” photo by default, so if you are browsing a collection of a lot of very similar photos, it may be hard to distinguish slight differences, when looking solely at the thumbnails.
The final method of moving through a collection of photos is by simply seeing one large photo at a time, then clicking the “next” arrow down at the bottom of the windows to view the next one. In my opinion, while this is a nice feature, it isn’t a whole lot different from what Preview offers.
Another nice feature to PixelWalker is that you can not only view images, but multi-page PDF and TIFF files. This makes PixelWalker a good middle-of-the-road, multi-purpose viewer, since it meets a couple of key needs, and could (although I wouldn’t recommend it), replace both Adobe Acrobat Reader (for PDF files), and Preview (for viewing images). I say I wouldn’t recommend it because I like Preview for a lot of things, and while Adobe Acrobat Reader has certain PDF editing abilities (such as the ability to fill in PDF forms), PixelWalker has none.
So, while I don’t think PixelWalker is necessarily going to replace any programs on your hard drive, the fact that it makes it simpler to accomplish one common task (looking at a large collection of photos without adding them to your iPhoto library), makes it a successful program in my eyes. PixelWalker is completely free, and can be downloaded from the project’s home page.