Windows 10 uses the new Photos app as the default photo viewer, but many people still prefer the old Windows photo viewer. However, you can restore the photo viewer in Windows 10. It is just hidden.
Related: How to perform a clean install of Windows 10 the easy way
If you upgrade your Windows 7 or 8.1 PC to Windows 10, Windows Photo Viewer will be available, and you can set it as the default photo viewer if you want. However, if you’re doing a clean install of Windows 10 — or you’ve purchased a computer that already has Windows 10 installed — you can’t access Photo Viewer at all. The interesting thing is that the image viewer is still there. It’s just hidden, and you’ll have to make some modifications to the registry for it to show up. After doing that, you can set it as your default image viewer.
updated: Windows Photo Viewer is not cut out from Windows 11, and you can make Windows Photo Viewer your default photo viewer on Windows 11.
For whatever reason, Microsoft has chosen not to include registry keys that allow access to the Windows Photo Viewer on Windows 10. These keys are kept in place if you upgraded from a previous version of Windows, but weren’t created during the installation of Windows 10. Microsoft really wants to open All these image files are in the new Photos app instead.
Related: How to set your default apps in Windows 10
If you go to the Default apps pane in Settings, you won’t see Photo Viewer as an option. The old “Default Programs” Control Panel app doesn’t help much either. Open it up, and you can just make Photo Viewer the default association of .tif and .tif files. tiff – not other types of images.
Related: What are dll files, and why is it missing from my computer?
You also can’t point image files to a specific exe file to link to Photo Viewer either. The photo viewer is actually part of a DLL file named “PhotoViewer.dll” and does not have a separate executable file associated with it.
So, how do you get the photo viewer back? By launching our old friend’s registry editor, of course. And after doing that, you can set it as your default photo app.
Step one: Enable the image viewer in the recording
We will need to add the same registry entries that were in Windows 7 and 8.1 and still exist on systems that were upgraded from those older versions of Windows. To make things easier, we have put together a registry hack that you can use to quickly make these modifications because doing them manually is a bit cumbersome. Download and decompress the following file:
Inside, you will find two discs. Run the “Activate Windows Photo Viewer on Windows 10” hack to generate keys and values in the registry and activate Photo Viewer. And if you ever want to deactivate it, just run the “Deactivate Windows Photo Viewer on Windows 10 (Default)” hack. Of course, there is no real need to deactivate it in the registry. You can always leave it available and associate your image files with a different app.
Class: Big thanks to the association at TenForums for specifying the required recording settings.
And remember – this step is only necessary if you are using a new Windows 10 system. If you upgraded from Windows 7 or 8.1, you should be able to go ahead and set Windows Photo Viewer as the default application for viewing photos in all the usual ways.
Step 2: Set Windows Photo Viewer as your default photo viewer
To associate an image file with Photo Viewer, right-click any type of image file—for example, a .png, .jpg, .gif, or .bmp file—and select Open With > Choose Another Application.
In “How do you want to open this file?” window, select Windows Photo Viewer. If you don’t see it at first, scroll to the bottom of what’s listed and tap on the More apps option – it will appear. Check the “Always use this app to open ____ files” option, then click OK.
updated: If for some reason the Choose Another App option doesn’t work, here’s another way to do it: First, right-click on the type of image file you want to change (for example, PNG, JPEG, GIF, or BMP) and select Properties to open a window Properties. In the general pane, click the Change button to the right of Opens With and select Windows Photo Viewer.
Windows Photo Viewer will now be the default photo viewer for this type of photo file. You will need to repeat this process for each type of image file you want to use it with. In other words, when you open a photo that opens in the Photos app, just close the Photos app and use the Open With menu to associate that file type with Windows Photo Viewer. You will only have to do this the first time you open each new type of image file.
Obviously, we can’t guarantee that Microsoft will retain access to Photo Viewer forever. But for now, at least, it’s still there — even if you have to put in a little effort to find it.
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