My husband loaded Irfanview on our computer years ago and I never use it for anything but viewing. I'm sure it probably will do other stuff but I just use it for looking at photos and layouts. It will open multiple times and stack as many open photos/layouts as you want to look at.
You want to use your photo editing program (Photoshop Elements, Photoshop, etc.) to actually make your layouts on. You can use whatever photo viewer that's already on your computer, I just suggested Irfanview because I know it will let you open lots at once and keep them open, without having to close one photo to open another.
. . . there's a free photo viewer called Irfanview that loads quickly (to me Picasa takes forever, but it may be that my computer is just old) that you can look at your reference layout with while you are working on your layout. You can open your photo viewing program and open your reference layout, and then just minimize it and look at it as you need to.
You can also have more than one reference layout opened and minimized in Irfanview at one time, to save time going back and forth to look at more than one layout.
Especially when you're learning your way around, it really helps to have something to "go by," so I know exactly where you're coming from! It helps not only with where to place things on your layout, but looking at other layouts helps you learn how to layer things on top of each other, where they need shadows, how to use titles and how big to make them, how to journal - the whole thing. Rather than printing your reference layouts, though, you should probably save them onto your computer and that way you could magnify them to see them better. You will find as you stick with this that you're going to have too much to print it all out!
Sometimes some collections (usually the older ones) don't come with the images of the layouts that "sold" you on the collections to begin with, and you're right, it sure helps to see how the "pros" are using these products for a jumping off point for your own layouts.
So when I want to see how a product has been used, I look it up in the boutique and there is usually at least one layout there, and sometimes 2 or more. If I want to save these for future reference, I right click on them and use the "save image as" option. I usually save it in the folder with my collection and then it's always right there for me to see when I look at my products.
Along those lines, when I'm working on a project and looking for layout ideas, I go to Google Images and type in, for example, "Disney Animal Kingdom scrapbook layouts" and it will pull up tons of stuff. (I have done the same for Pinterest and have even followed some boards in these specific categories - fun!)
This gives me all kinds of ideas for color and layout combinations, and how they use embellishments (even the paper layouts are good for this). I look at the ones that catch my eye. And the ones I really like -- well, I right-click and save them into a folder I might label "Animal Kingdom Reference Ideas" or something like that. The great thing about that is being able to combine something you really like about one layout with something you really like about another.
And, while I'm writing you this book of a reply, there's a free photo viewer called Irfanview that loads quickly (to me Picasa takes forever, but it may be that my computer is just old) that you can look at your reference layout with while you are working on your layout. You can open your photo viewing program and open your reference layout, and then just minimize it and look at it as you need to.