How to restore the Windows Photo Viewer on Windows 10

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 16, 2018
Updated • Nov 14, 2019
Windows, Windows 10

The default image viewer on Windows 10 devices is the Photos application. Users can install third-party apps from the Microsoft Store or desktop programs like IrfanView, XnView, or FastStone Image Viewer to use better performing programs that are more feature-rich than the default application.

Windows 10 users who worked on devices running previous versions of Windows or are still working on those devices may have used Windows Photo Viewer in the past to view images on these devices.

Windows Photo Viewer is still available on Windows 10 devices but the program's accessibility depends on whether Windows 10 was clean-installed.

Windows Photo Viewer is available as an option if the device was upgraded from an earlier version of Windows, e.g. Windows 7. Microsoft ships Windows Photo Viewer will clean installations of Windows as well but it is hidden and cannot be reactivated this easily.

photos windows photo viewer ram

Why you would want to use Windows Photo Viewer and not Photos? Easy: Photos uses a multiple of the memory that Windows Photo Viewer required to display images. If you use both tools to display the same image, Photos uses about three times as much RAM as Windows Photo Viewer. This increases to a lot more when you don't open the image directly in Photos but go to the visual listing of all available photos instead. RAM usage may go up to 400, 500 or even more Megabytes easily.

Restoring Windows Photo Viewer

windows photo viewer

Windows Photo Viewer should be available on devices that were upgraded from previous versions of Windows to Windows 10.

Do the following to find out if that is indeed the case:

  1. Right-click on any image on the Windows 10 machine and select Open With > Choose another app.
  2. Select "More apps" if Windows Photo Viewer is not listed.
  3. Scroll down to see if the program is listed. If you see it there, Windows Photo Viewer is installed and ready for use.

If you don't see the program listed there, you need to make a couple of changes to the Windows Registry to bring it back. The user Edwin over on Ten Forums published the code for the Registry that you need to add.

I have created the Registry file for your convenience but you can head over to the forum to create it yourself if you prefer it.

Download the following Registry file to your system: (Download Removed)

I tested the Registry file on Windows 10 version 1803 and the latest Insider Build of Windows 10 version 1809 and it worked on both.

Just extract the Registry file after the download and run the Registry file to add the information to the Registry. You need to restart the PC and should have Windows Photo Viewer as an option in the Open With menu and elsewhere on the operating system.

You can make Windows Photo Viewer the default viewer for images but you cannot use the Settings application for that. Microsoft blocks desktop programs from becoming the default (programs you can browse to on the local system), and suggests only some there. Use NirSoft's FileTypesMan to associate desktop programs with different file types. Check out the linked article for detailed instructions on how to do so.

Closing Words

Windows Photo Viewer uses less RAM and it may even open faster than the Photos application on Windows 10 systems. It may be an option on a system where you may not install third-party viewers which offer better performance, resource usage, and functionality.

Now You: Which program do you use to view images?


How to restore the Windows Photo Viewer on Windows 10
Article Name
How to restore the Windows Photo Viewer on Windows 10
Find out how to restore the Windows Photo Viewer desktop program on machines running Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system.
Ghacks Technology News

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  1. Steve Sybesma said on January 11, 2023 at 12:43 pm

    My install of Windows 10 Pro 64-bit was a fresh install and never had anything to do with Windows 7, yet this did work. Albeit it’s kind of weird the app doesn’t appear as an executable in the file system by any recognizable name. I did find out after searching Task Manager for what opens the picture and it appears as a “COM Surrogate” type of executable file named DLLHOST.EXE.
    Attempting to execute DLLHOST.EXE does absolutely nothing because it’s not actually a dedicated application. It’s something that depends entirely on registry entries to determine its actual function and only opens as Windows Picture Viewer when a picture is double-clicked on. It’s not a true standalone application. In fact I checked with a hex editor and “Windows Photo Viewer” doesn’t appear in DLLHOST.EXE…that name is only in the registry. This is the first time I can remember something like this but it’s interesting to have Windows Photo Viewer back.

    1. Steve Sybesma said on January 11, 2023 at 1:00 pm

      Correction above: I referenced Windows Picture Viewer and meant Windows PHOTO Viewer.

  2. Steve Sybesma said on January 11, 2023 at 12:15 pm


    You gave a link for FileTypesMan that isn’t even Nirsoft’s website and besides the link is invalid.

    Try this official one:

  3. Anonymous said on June 11, 2022 at 11:52 pm

    Not necessary to get the old Windows photo viewer. This solution I got from another board works and the slide show it uses also enables the speed features. Stupid they could not leave it alone.

    When the image folder is open and a photo/image has the box to the left of it checked, a new menu called “Manage” will appear at the top. It has a button for “Slide Show” (as well as “Set as Background” and “Cast to Device”. THIS slide show works correctly! While the Windows Photo Viewer slide show will still balloon up my images (I run my Surface Pro at 150% text size) this new “Slide Show” option scales the images correctly and appears to have much of the same functionality (slide show speed, etc). If you check multiple images it just cycles between them, but with only one checked it will go through the entire folder.

  4. AnonUT said on January 2, 2021 at 4:25 am

    This solution didn’t work on my laptop running Windows 10 version 20H2 but I found a solution that worked at…

  5. Anonymous said on November 23, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    Thank you very much! It worked!. The default image viewer is terribly very very very slow!

  6. Anonymous said on October 30, 2020 at 11:04 pm

    Thanks, my PC crashed, lost this when rebuilding. Works great.


  7. BubleGumCOVIDeorepeat said on October 29, 2020 at 7:25 pm

    Sorry, the name of the software is Honeyview

  8. BubleGumCOVIDeorepeat said on October 29, 2020 at 7:23 pm

    God sake stupid MS, what they want/need ha. Yes I restored it, but its laggy, frozzy, crashed…
    There is alternative – Honeyviwer (god for LTSB/LTSC/any other Windows editions).

  9. Lavinia said on September 7, 2020 at 9:29 pm

    Thank you so much! After a lot of searching all over the internet your article was exactly what I needed.

  10. MoltresRider said on September 3, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    The registry file does not work. :( After adding the registry values, Windows Photo Viewer is STILL NOT an option.

    It does not work for me :(

  11. Ayori said on July 3, 2020 at 2:42 am

    This fix worked perfectly for me, thanks a bunch.

  12. Roopesh said on June 16, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    After installing this my start button is not working…. fuck

  13. marklouiecereno said on June 1, 2020 at 8:58 am

    windows can be read

  14. marklouiecereno said on June 1, 2020 at 8:58 am

    how to intall windows viewer

  15. Nita Sexton said on May 9, 2020 at 6:52 pm


  16. Texas said on May 9, 2020 at 2:22 am

    Thank you! Working as of may 8, 2020, win 10 1909

  17. Gry said on April 22, 2020 at 6:30 pm

    I now have the old windows photo viewer back. thank you so much. Gary

  18. V. Okie said on April 1, 2020 at 7:25 pm

    Thank you.

  19. Jb said on February 6, 2020 at 12:06 am

    Worked to satisfaction on a Windows 10 version 1909 system I’m currently servicing, but there is a possibility this was an upgraded setup.

    To Todd above, here’s a quick suggestion though you may already be doing this. After extracting the Registry file and merging it, right click on any image file you’re looking to make the change on, then left click ‘Open with…’. When the ‘How do you want to open this file?’ dialog box opens, click on ‘More apps’ but make sure to move your mouse pointer to the right side of that box so it shows its scroll bar. There you can scroll down to find additional applications to use, hopefully to include Windows Photo Viewer. Just a thought.

  20. todd said on January 31, 2020 at 8:46 pm

    requesting assistance.
    successfully downloaded the registry modifications and ran the unzipped file.
    no evidence of Win Photo Viewer.
    running latest version of Win10 Pro.

    suggestions welcome…

  21. Neil said on November 20, 2019 at 8:34 am

    I think I have found a workaround for PCs which do not accept WPV. Open a .tif file using Photoviewer and then JPGs will open as well if in the same folder if you open the TIF file first.

  22. ahmed said on November 13, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    No have Windows Photo Viewer – all restored

  23. Anonymous said on September 13, 2019 at 11:44 am

    Thanks for your very useful article. Windows 10 would not open my photos. I have now switched back to Windows Photo Viewer – all restored.

  24. Anonymous said on August 11, 2019 at 9:38 pm

    thank you!

  25. GK said on April 20, 2019 at 1:00 am


  26. Justacrazymom said on March 17, 2019 at 10:05 am

    You ROCK! I accidentally deleted Photo Viewer today, and looked all over for help getting it back. I finally gave up, but then decided to give it ONE more shot. There you were — and that zip file WORKED. I really hesitated to let it loose on my computer, but I’d done a system restore point earlier so went for it. Now I can view my photos again. Whew!!

  27. YOUR BOSS !!! said on December 1, 2018 at 11:27 pm

    Doesnt work as not show it up anywhere so waste time doing….

  28. MBW said on October 21, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    Yup, doesn’t work after October 2018. You can still access Windows Photo Viewer if you right click and choose it to open, you can even check ‘always open’ with this, but as soon as you close WPV and double click to open the same photo even it’ll open with the Win 10 Photo app again. No way to set it as default either in settings. This is frustrating because WPV is blatantly superior for basic PNG, BMP, JPEG viewing etc. For a start when I want to zoom in Win 10 Photos it is cumbersome and often fails to work, or works extremely slowly. This is on a machine with an 8th gen Intel quad core, 8GB RAM and a higher end SSD storing the photo data! But in the old WPV you scroll in and instantly it zooms. Somehow Microsoft have replaced a fast nippy intuitive photo viewer of old with a crappy, slow, memory hogging one with trash controls. Thanks geniuses!

    1. Synx said on October 29, 2018 at 11:56 pm

      True =(

  29. kenstp said on October 9, 2018 at 6:57 am

    On Windows 10 build 1809, I can’t associate any file extensions besides .tiff with Windows Photo Viewer. The method given above worked on 1803 and all previous versions of 10. Looks like XnView is now my default viewer.

  30. Luis said on July 16, 2018 at 10:42 pm

    Or you can use….Winaero Tweaker…. It will give you much more, even disable telemetry!!!!

    1. Nomadcs said on July 23, 2018 at 4:26 pm

      This program is the only reason I haven’t switched to Linux yet. Good shit. Although knowing microsoft, they will push me over the edge, eventually…

  31. Sebas said on July 16, 2018 at 10:17 pm

    Faststone image viewer for jpegs. Light and fast (except for loading tiff files).

    Nikon ViewNX-i for Nikon NEF files.

    For my wife Picasa.

  32. stefann said on July 16, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    Is Windows 10 still pixelate photos, as Vista and later did, when You enlarge them in the photo viewer ? XP was a pro, You could enlarge photos quite much before they got pixelated. That is one reason i still use XP x64 for f.ex my art works. (pixelate might be the wrong word in English….i meant squared boxes in photos when enlarged)

  33. Darren said on July 16, 2018 at 8:50 pm

    Another reason to get familiar with LTSB

  34. Anonymous said on July 16, 2018 at 5:51 pm

    I use this all the time, but maybe I should look into alternatives. The Photos app really is just garbage (GIF support is nice, tho).

  35. 68ji said on July 16, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    I’ve been using HoneyView for a few years now and it’s the best image viewer for me. It’s published by the same company as Bandizip.
    Very fast, light on the resources and has some neat features. You can also hide all interface including Windows titlebar (unless you mouse over it) so it only shows the image and nothing else which is nice.

  36. Weilan said on July 16, 2018 at 5:19 pm

    But, but, but everything new is always better… durrr…

    Windows 10 best Windows, becausr new…. durrr….

    1. Yuliya said on July 16, 2018 at 5:46 pm

      It pretty much is the only justification for this OS, really.

  37. Emilio said on July 16, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    The Windows app is heavy and resource-intensive, Picasa Photo Viewer (portable) is still the best for me.

  38. Yuliya said on July 16, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    You can use this .reg:
    It will allow you to set Windows Photo Viewer as default even from Settings. Should work on everything since 1507 up to 1803+

    1. Karim said on September 12, 2019 at 8:31 pm

      Yulia thank you so much, worked on my 1809 freshly installed! Just had to reassociate viewer to the file type, had reactivated the viewer reg previously wand it wasn’t anough, thanks! :)

    2. Azza said on November 5, 2018 at 8:10 pm

      How can I download registry code as an executable installer .reg file? I’m not savvy enough to fiddle with registry keys manually.

      1. Anonymous said on November 10, 2018 at 12:27 am

        select download in pastebin then change the file extension from txt to reg.
        right mouse on reg file, select merge and confirm

      2. Anonymous said on November 21, 2018 at 12:30 am

        This is the one that worked after October 2018 with 1803.

    3. Grif said on October 8, 2018 at 11:47 pm

      Doesn’t work on 1803 as of October 2018. After adding the changes to the registry and rebooting I clicked on a jpg and it just brought up the dialogue to set the default program. When I selected Windows Photo Viewer it opened the first time, but just went back to the Windows 10 app after I closed it.

      1. R said on November 1, 2018 at 3:57 pm

        Same issue here. It seems like it changed my default back after the last update too because I was running photo viewer fine a month or so ago.

  39. Croatoan said on July 16, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    Really fast program start up,
    lots of options

    1. Nomadcs said on July 23, 2018 at 4:30 pm

      Very clean UI and also fast.
      Lots of options, although a lot of them are different than Irfan or FastStone.
      This one is better suited for quick viewing and sorting.

  40. seeprime said on July 16, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    I use Windows Photo Viewer on Windows 10. The Photos app is not impressive in any way to me.

    1. Sandie said on June 9, 2019 at 2:52 pm

      Ok, now that win 10 1903 is out the registry hack listed doesn’t work. New machine with 1903 already installed. Would appreciate any assistance

      1. JimC said on September 12, 2019 at 8:59 pm

        Same here. Nothing works to get Photo Viewer back in 1903.

    2. Izlude said on November 30, 2018 at 8:07 pm

      I can’t use the photos app at all, it’s slow as heck! can’t zoom very well either.. the Windows Photo Viewer is perhaps the best thing that ever happened to Windows. I’ve had to use a registry hack to get it to appear back on the “open with” list… but sadly it doesn’t see to stick after I select it with “always use this app”… MS is trying to get rid of it for real :/ gotta make a stand alone version of it somehow.

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