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png file viewer with no menus, etc

Posted on 2012-03-29
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Last Modified: 2012-04-04
Hello,

I have some png files with transparent backgrounds.  I would like to be able to display them on my Windows desktop without anything other than the non-transparent portions of the png image visible.  No menus, no default background, nothing but the non-transparent portions of the image.

I have tried a number of viewer programs, but haven't found one that can do this.  Any assistance is appreciated.
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Question by:markdolar
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Accepted Solution

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BillDL earned 500 total points
ID: 37788571
I found one that works, but it is quirky and I am not sure if it is "freeware for personal use" or free as in "trialware".  There is conflicting information on the home page of "First Impression" image viewer regarding this.

The idea is that it is devoid of any kind of standard GUI and works purely through Right-Click and Keyboard Shortcuts once it has an image open.  It will "see through" transparent areas of PNG files to whatever you have open behind it as long as you Right-Click > View > "Alpha/Transparent Mode" (F7), but this is not the default and the program doesn't save this setting when you close it and open another image.  You have to hit F7 again.

I installed it on my XP SP3 system and made the mistake of assuming that the "Associate File Extensions" button under the "General" tab when you Right-Click > and choose Preferences would show me a list of image types to associate/disassociate from the program.  Instead it is just a button that seems to apply its own association to image file extensions not already associated with any other program in the standard way.  The *.TIF extension in XP, with it's odd way of being associated with the "Picture and Fax Viewer" is one that becomes associated with the program, and there may be others I haven't noticed yet.

Maybe it's a toggle button to associate or disassociate, but I didn't test, I just ran a *.reg file to repair the association and hope the icon changes back to default after a reboot.

So DO NOT click  "Associate File Extensions" button if you choose to test this program.

It creates a new Right-Click > Open With entry apparently for all common image file types named "Impression: Eyes".

Other obvious Registry Keys and folders created by the installer:
[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Impression Eyes]
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Impression Eyes]
"C:\Program Files\Impression Eyes" (4 files)
"HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Applications\ime.exe\shell\open\command"

I am now uninstalling the program.
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Author Comment

by:markdolar
ID: 37789616
It almost works.  It appears that First Impression is their freeware version and Impression Eyes is the for pay version, which includes the alpha channel.  However, with my png file, when I select view>Alpha/Transparent Mode, the whole image disappears. The png was created from a jpg file using gimp.  I used the path function to select the image from the full jpg frame.  When I bring the image into Powerpoint, the alpha channel works correctly.
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LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:BillDL
ID: 37790111
That's unfortunate.  It looked as though it would have done the trick, but my test PNGs were just quickly created in an old version of Paint Shop Pro which probably isn't standard in the way it creates PNGs with transparency.

It is also possible that the Operating System may have an influence.  I only tested the program in XP which doesn't have all the fancy "layers" (or whatever you would refer to it by) in the way Vista and 7 display the desktop and windows.

I have no idea what mechanism the program uses to view through transparent areas, whether it be its own or is using Windows own resources, but I'm pretty sure it will have been used by other programs. I never knew such a program existed because I have never had the need to use this functionality, so my findings were just whittled down to that particular program from google searches.  It was the only one that clearly spelled out what it did.

Hopefully some other experts will know of similar programs that might work for you.
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Author Comment

by:markdolar
ID: 37790200
Since it may be the method I am using to create the transparent png, maybe I should try using paint shop or paint shop pro?
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Author Closing Comment

by:markdolar
ID: 37809310
Solution worked for poster, but not for me.
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