Pic Lens is an amazing plug-in for Firefox.
I hate Firefox plug-ins in general. Mostly they just make Firefox even more of a memory hog and add irritating toolbars, without providing extra functions you might actually want.
Pic Lens is just brilliant, though, if you browse pictures often. This is a screen shot of it in operation – it’s a Flickr page with an image selected.
It takes seconds to download and install this. As soon as you’ve restarted Firefox, you can go to any standard source of images (such as Flickr) and there’s a small red arrow in the bottom right of each image. Just click on the arrow and you are in a virtual gallery, with images shown 3 high along the walls. See the screen shot of the result of a search on Google images:
You just scroll around until you find what you want, zooming in and out and along the gallery by mouse actions. Click on an image to see it larger. (Admittedly, you have to go out to a normal view to find the URL or to comment, as far as I can see so far. I might just be too inexpert.)
It’s intuitive to use, once you stop looking irritatedly for a menu. You can work out the elegantly designed controls by trial and error if you’ve ever used a PC in the past decade. The screen looks beautiful. Images look much better on a black background with all the normal irritating screen bits and pieces.
But incredibly, it’s also really fast. It’s much faster than moving around Google or Flickr under your own steam.
I’ve only found three major drawbacks so far. As I already said, it doesn’t take you straight to the context URL, so you can’t find a website or comment on Flickr pictures from inside it. You have to close it to do anything else – which is difficult because the other drawback is that you can just get sucked into looking at thousands of images and always want to see just one more.
It is brilliant.