How to restore the Windows Photo Viewer on Windows 10 - gHacks Tech News

How to restore the Windows Photo Viewer on 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: Windows 10 Windows Photo Viewer

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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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).

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

    Another reason to get familiar with LTSB

  9. 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)

  10. 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.

  11. 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…

  12. 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.

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