I am looking for an image viewer for mac with the following characteristics:

  • Lightweight - loads fast
  • Full screen mode
  • Magnifier
  • Can load a directory for browsing

Any suggestions?

(iPhoto 11 has a full screen mode, but no handy zooming capabilities for individual photos as far as I know)

  • 1
    have you tried preview Nov 16, 2010 at 0:40
  • from the answers I got so far, I liked Xee and Simple Comic. the latter has a loupe, which is specially handy. regarding preview, the main limitation that I find is that zooming in full screen doesn't work very well - the only way I found to do it is the OS X's built in zooming feature which is not very intuitive.
    – luis
    Nov 17, 2010 at 9:55

8 Answers 8


To be honest I just use preview if I want a quick run through of images


Preview is a good option, but you should consider Quick Look, which offers almost everything you want, is built-in, and is available all the time.

It’s dead simple: Hit Command-A to select all the images in a folder, then Command-Option-Space to bring Quick Look up in full-screen mode. If you want to zoom in more, you can use the zoom feature which is built-in to Mac OS X: While holding Control, scroll up to zoom in, and scroll down to zoom out. You may need to enable zoom in Preferences; I don’t recall if it’s enabled by default. It’s simple enough: System Preferences -> Trackpad -> Screen Zoom.

Quick Look can show you one image at a time, and it also has an Index Sheet mode, which shows you thumbnails of all the images you selected. You can navigate with the arrow keys, or with the usual swipe gestures on your trackpad or mouse. It even works with RAWs. Give it a shot! I think you’ll be very pleased with what it can do.

  • But as far as I know the built in zoom feature you describe is more a magnifier. I think the magnifier will interpolate the pixels to magnify the desktop/UI, hence you will not be able to use this feature to zoom in your image i.e. 1:1 or 100% view. I also use the Finder in Cover Flow mode to flick over images, just as a side note :-)
    – el_migu_el
    Oct 7, 2011 at 7:14

I've been looking for a similar kind of an app recently and the best light-weight software I could find was Xee. It really fills the gap between the Quick Look and Capture One - the other image viewers I'm frequently using.

You could find more alternatives from the alternativeto.net website. I spotted Xee there.

  • -1 for Xee. I used to love it, then I discovered it does not color manage the images, so it's almost worthless for any photography workflow.
    – Agos
    Nov 19, 2010 at 0:20

I'd suggest preview. Its built in and the newer version (Leopard and up) is actually quite nice


I've searched for something like this for a while as well and haven't found anything great. Depending on what I'm doing, I use a combination of:

Seriously though, take a look at Simple Comic (http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/21987/simple-comic), it covers everything you asked for. If you keep it in your dock, you can just drag a directory icon onto it to view it (including subdirectories), keyboard shortcuts for fullscreen and image sizing, a Loupe magnifier, loads pretty quick, can view zip files. Best of all you can read comics with it as well. :)

  • Thanks. Simple Comic is not bad and is the kind of program I was looking for (the loupe is really handy) but needs more work from the developer. It's still a bit slow and buggy.
    – luis
    Nov 17, 2010 at 9:46

After many searches and comparisons I settle to XnViewMP. Ultra fast, cross-platform, full of features, actively developed. And of course, free.


Photo Mechanic is probably the fastest image browser you'll find. It's pretty much the standard among sports shooters that frequently shoot thousands of images.


I turned the zoom feature on within the accessibility section of the System Preferences.....

  • Does that accomplish all the requirements of the question?
    – MikeW
    Oct 24, 2013 at 22:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.