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Definition: file viewer

Software that displays the contents of a file. File viewers are a quick way of looking into different types of files without having to open each application that created them. A general-purpose file viewer is capable of displaying a wide variety of document, database, spreadsheet and graphics formats.

From Windows Explorer and Mac Finder
In the Windows XP version of the Explorer file manager, Microsoft added a Filmstrip mode for viewing images. In Vista, it replaced Filmstrip with variable-sized icons. In Mac OS X 10.5, Apple added its iTunes Cover Flow technology to the Finder file manager for viewing all files. See graphics viewer, Quick Look and document exchange software.

File Viewing in Windows
For images only, a Filmstrip viewing mode was added to Windows XP (top). In Vista, it was replaced with a variable sized icon view and a separate viewing window, which can be resized to full screen.

Cover Flow in the Mac Finder
The most eye catching file viewing mode in any operating system, Apple's Cover Flow images zoom large as they transition from side to center. Cover Flow can be used for all file types, and the pages within multi-page documents can also be scrolled (see Cover Flow).