Are there any recommended programs for Windows (preferably free, cheap acceptable) that are fast lightweight viewers for common application formats? (PDF, doc, jpg, png etc).

The Mac has Quick Look built in, and way back when Windows used to have "Quick View", but I'm not sure what exists today.



Not sure if it meets your requirements for lightweight, but Irfanview rocks. Irfanview is free for non-commercial (read: personal) use, and supports a wide variety of file formats.

  • Ifran is cool, but so ugly piece of software :) And it's only a image viewer.
    – crea7or
    Mar 25 '12 at 13:28
  • @crea7or actually, Irfanview supports many different file formats, and even includes a media player inside the application itself (audio/video formats are at the very bottom of the list). Note that in order for Irfanview to support some of these formats, you may have to install an appropriate plugin first. Jul 31 '13 at 17:40

Universal Viewer is an advanced file viewer with wide range of formats supported. Implemented view modes and corresponding file formats are:

Text, Binary, Hex, Unicode: any files, of unlimited size (even 4Gb+ sizes are allowed)

RTF, UTF-8: RTF and UTF-8 encoded texts

Image: all general graphics formats: BMP JPG GIF PNG TGA TIFF... plus all formats supported by IrfanView/XnView external viewers

Multimedia: all formats supported by MS Windows Media Player: AVI MPG WMV MP3...

Internet: all formats supported by MS Internet Explorer: HTML XML DOC XLS...

Plugins: all formats supported by Total Commander Lister plugins

Universal Viewer is fully Unicode-compatible and can be integrated into Windows Explorer's context menu, so there is no problem to call it from anywhere in Explorer: right-click a file and select "Universal Viewer". It can also be integrated into other popular file managers (e.g. Total Commander).

Universal Viewer covers probably all your needs (except PDF). if you have XnView or IrfanView installed, you may integrate them into Universal Viewer to load image files:

Options > Configure > File Types > Libraries

check the box "Use IrfanView/XnView to load Graphics".

Universal Viewer is freeware, a portable version is also available.

  • 2
    Thank you for this recommendation! The program is currently doing exactly what I needed it for. I would like to mention, though, that the installer for the freeware version "calls home" on the Internet and presents a sequence of about 5 annoying suggestions for installing other products I don't need and want. Gift horse in the mouth and all that. Well, I was able to decline all the offers, anyway, and the program itself hasn't nagged me about anything so far. Feb 25 '13 at 16:16

If you're using Vista or Windows 7, you can use the new "preview pane" feature. which you can also get it on Windows XP /any other Windows version with help of i.e. some 3rd party file viewers or tweaks:

Vista / Windows 7 like preview pane (explorer file viewer) and search for Windows XP: - http://www.winmatrix.com/forums/index.php?/topic/19634-get-windows-vista-like-explorer-and-search-preview-pane-for-xp/

Good luck anyway :)


If you're using Windows 7:

For Pdf file - Install foxit PDF Reader (it's free and fast) and toggle the preview pane in windows explorer.

For Video files - Install gom player, it's also a very able player that smooths video files, once a codec pack is installed, such as k-lite codec pack. (there are tones of skins available - even a mac quick look skin) In the preferences the key closest to your enter key to close the program, for me it's - ' - assign it to {Basic Exit} This way you can easily preview a file, in high quality and easily close the file.

For Image files install picasa photo viewer. It has a very transparent aero design which gives the impression of previewing the file.

Make sure installed programs are saved as default player.

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