How to restore the Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 11

Oct 26, 2021
Windows 11 Help

Windows 11 brings a slew of new features, some of which have not been well received among users. If you look at the previous iteration, it also had some unwelcome changes such as the Photos app, which replaced the Windows Photo Viewer.

Windows 11 Open Image With Another App

The Photos App isn't bad at all, in fact it comes with a built-in Video Editor, and I think it is quite useful. The main reason why people do not like the Photos app is due to its performance. It is rather sluggish to open, it takes an extra second or two to load, even when you are trying to view images which are just a few KB in size. The interface may appear slightly confusing, if you are coming over from Photo Viewer.

Well, if you like the simplicity of the legacy application, you are probably going to be disappointed to hear that Windows 11 does not include Photo Viewer by default. You can verify this by selecting any image and right-clicking on it. Select the "Open With" menu item and click on "Choose Another App". Click the "More Apps" option and scroll down the list, it will not display Photo Viewer among the choices, because it is hidden by the operating system.


The good news is that you can easily get the program back in Windows 11.

How to restore the Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 11

1. Download this Registry fix to your computer. It is based on the modification created by a user named Edwin at the Tenforums. The procedure remains the same as what we used on Windows 10 earlier.

2. Extract the ZIP file and double-click on the key file.

3. Accept the UAC prompt to allow the entry to be added to the Windows Registry.

This will add the Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 11. If you access the Start Menu, you may be surprised to see that it still won't list the option. The Start Menu won't find the app if you search for it, either. This is why the next step is necessary.

Note: Save your work before proceeding, in order to prevent data loss.

Access the Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 11

1. Press the Ctrl + Shift + Escape hotkey combo, to open the Task Manager.

2. Locate the process for Windows Explorer, and right-click on it. Select the Restart option, and the Taskbar will flash briefly while the process is reloaded. Alternatively, you may choose to restart the computer.

3. Open File Explorer and navigate to a folder that contains some pictures. Right-click on an image, click on "Open With > Choose Another App > More Apps." The Windows Photo Viewer will be listed there, click it to open the image in the classic application.

How to restore the Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 11

You may optionally set the program as the default image handler. To do so, just check the box which says "Always use this app to open .[FORMAT] files", where FORMAT is the extension of the image. e.g. PNG, GIF, JPG, etc.

Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 11

As for the program's features, all options in it work fine. It is a little sad we have to resort to such tricks for accessing the legacy program. Microsoft should make it easier for users to choose the image viewer of their choice, what do you think about this?

How to restore the Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 11
Article Name
How to restore the Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 11
Where is the Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 11? We show you how to enable the legacy program.
Ghacks Technology News

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  1. Tony said on October 26, 2021 at 7:06 pm

    I prefer IrfanView. Much faster, and more reliable. That said, I’m experimenting with KDE right now and it is working smoothly. Feels good to break away from the dumb that-is Microsoft.

  2. Baboon said on October 26, 2021 at 10:10 pm

    qimgv, Imageglass Moon and Honeyview seem to work well enough on Windows 11. My old beloved trusty workhorse, Pictus, is slightly sluggish for some reason. STILL USING IT, becuz we’re bestest foreverbuddies. At first I was mildly impressed with the default photo app, but then there were those “tips” to adjust pictures more aaaaand that of course was just another shortcut to some garbage ad app in the store. Uninstalled faster than the devil in the night and that app will never ever be reinstalled. I absolutely worship those tricks using powershell to uninstall microsoft apps, I get really happy with each one disappearing. It’s like waving cash in microsofts face and then flushing it down the toilet instead. PURE JOY. I am a small simple and bitter man, very easy to entertain.

  3. RamboDVD said on October 27, 2021 at 8:23 am

    RUnning a reg file indicates that Windows Photo Viewer is still present in Windows 11, as it is in 10. It was simply buried with the old code left in place, like much of the old code from Vista and older versions. Heck, Vista sidebar is still in the registry. This seems like a good reason when Windows 10 grew from 3.2-GB to 5.2-GB installer, old stuff is not fully removed, just hidden with newer stuff put in its place.

  4. Squiggy said on October 27, 2021 at 11:08 am

    Faststone Maxview is still my favorite. Photos open instantly in full screen, no annoying toolbars or other clutter, scroll through all your images with the mouse wheel, it’s perfect.

  5. Yuliya said on October 28, 2021 at 12:55 am

    It’s not even funny how bad UWP Photos is. Absolute nonsense, takes upwards of two cesonds to just open its UI alone with no image path. On an SSD. With animations disabled!
    It was horrible in 1507, and it still is.
    WPV is by far the fastest. For GIFs I use MPV.

  6. Trey said on October 28, 2021 at 8:32 am

    Yea. Windows 11. No thanks.

  7. Francesca Roman said on November 12, 2021 at 7:29 pm

    I’ve been using this fix since Win 10 first came out, but this past year, after one of the updates, not all pictures will open up. Reset it on Win 11, and still the same issue so I don’t know if it’s some coding on new photos or it’s just no longer functional for some reason. I will have to try it on another computer to see if it’s my system but I get the usual “Windows photo viewer can’t display…..” These are mostly pictures I’ve saved from our chats on Elements. Some from Signal still work and some don’t and Telegram still works fine. Because of this I’m guessing it’s the apps, but I love Windows Photo Viewer because I can enlarge the image and still be able to go to the next photo. On Photos, if you enlarge it, you have to return it to size before you can find the arrow to go to the next image. So messed up. Microsoft is forgetting about the STUPID rule and is making things complicated in their efforts to become an Apple look alike. Notice the taskbar on Win 11? Plus other things they’ve removed from HOME version but still allow on the PRO version. Such control freaks. Just like Apple.

  8. Anonymous said on November 28, 2021 at 5:39 pm

    World class. Thanks! Solved a massive problem sorting through my wedding pictures

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