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ImageJ is a public domain Java image processing program inspired by NIH Image for the Macintosh. It runs on any computer with a Java 1.6 or later virtual machine. Downloadable distributions are available for Windows, Mac OS, Mac OS X and Linux. ImageJ has a strong, established user base, with thousands of plugins and macros for performing a wide variety of tasks.


There are a few different flavors of ImageJ with very similar names, and some confusion is inevitable. Below is a table which should help to clarify the purpose of each. For the historical context of these projects, see the History of ImageJ.

Name Author/Maintainer(s) Description Initiated Status
ImageJ1 Wayne Rasband The current, stable version is known simply as "ImageJ"—or sometimes "ImageJ1" or "IJ1" to differentiate it from ImageJ 2.x, which is still in beta. 1997 Active


ImageJ developers ImageJ 2.x, referred to as "ImageJ2" or "IJ2" for short, is currently in development. It is a complete rewrite of ImageJ, but includes ImageJ1 with a compatibility layer, so that old-style plugins and macros can run the same as in IJ1. Dec. 2009 Active
ImageJA Johannes Schindelin

ImageJA is a project that provides a clean Git History of ImageJ1, with a proper 'pom.xml' file so that it can be used with Maven without hassles.

It is what Fiji uses (see below) at its core.

Jul. 2005 Active
Fiji Fiji contributors

Fiji is Just ImageJ, with extras. It is a distribution of ImageJ with many plugins useful for image analysis in the life sciences, an automatic updater, and improved scripting capabilities. It is actively maintained, with updates released often.

We recommend Fiji as the preferred version of ImageJ.

Dec. 2007 Active
MBF ImageJ Tony Collins

The MBF "ImageJ for Microscopy" bundle (formerly WCIF ImageJ) is a collection of plugins and macros, collated and organized by the MacBiophotonics facility.

It went hand in hand with a comprehensive manual describing how to use the bundle with light microscopy image data. It was a great resource by microscopists, for microscopists. Unfortunately, the manual went offline in late 2012. Nonetheless, it is often possible to add specific plugins from MBF ImageJ to a Fiji installation, combining the best of both programs.

2005 Defunct

(Last update:
Dec. 2009)

ImageJ2x Rawak Software ImageJ2x is a fork of ImageJ1, modified to use a Swing interface. Unknown Last update:

Sep. 2012

SalsaJ EU-HOU SalsaJ is a closed-source fork of ImageJ1 intended for use with professional astronomy images. It was designed to be used in classrooms, and has been localized into over 30 different languages. Unknown Last update:

Aug. 2012

ImageJX Grant Harris

ImageJX was created as a means to discuss and explore improvements to ImageJ. There was an ImageJX mailing list as well as an ImageJX software prototype.

The ImageJX software prototype was a proof of concept—an attempt to reorganize ImageJ's internals to make it more flexible. The prototype demonstrated this flexibility by recasting the program in Swing. The ImageJX project formed the basis of an application to NIH for funding, which is what launched the ImageJDev project (see above).

Mar. 2009 Superceded by ImageJ2
NIH Image Wayne Rasband NIH Image is a public domain image processing and analysis program for the Macintosh. It is the direct predecessor of ImageJ, and is no longer under active development (though see ImageSXM below). 1993 or earlier Superceded by ImageJ
ImageSXM Steve Barrett Image SXM is a version of NIH Image that has been extended to handle the loading, display and analysis of scanning microscope images. May 1993 Active