How get Windows Photo Viewer working in Windows 10

In Windows 10, Microsoft made it harder to use the good old Photo Viewer app and forced everyone to use the Metro app called "Photos" instead. There is no way to set Windows Photo Viewer as the default to open image files since it is missing from the list in Settings->System->Defaults apps. The classic Control Panel also allows only TIFF files to be associated with Photo Viewer. Here is how to fix this restriction and get Windows Photo Viewer working again in Windows 10 RTM.


I inspected the Windows Registry and found out that Windows Photo Viewer can be activated by Registry editing. You must add a set of values to the Registry. In this article we will see how it is done. To save your time, I added the appropriate option to my freeware app, Winaero Tweaker, so you can get it working with one click or edit the Registry entries yourself.

How get Windows Photo Viewer working in Windows 10 with Winaero Tweaker

Using Winaero Tweaker, you need to do the following:

  1. Open Winaero Tweaker and go to Windows Accessories -> Activate Windows Photo Viewer.
  2. Click the button "Activate Windows Photo Viewer". The Set Default Programs window will be opened. There you will find Windows Photo Viewer. Click the button "Choose defaults for this program" on the right to set all desired extensions which will now be available for the Photo Viewer app.Winaero Tweaker Photo ViewerWindows 10 Set Default ProgramsWindows 10 Set Program Associations

This is very easy and time saving. You can get Winaero Tweaker here:

Download Winaero Tweaker

How get Windows Photo Viewer working in Windows 10 without Winaero Tweaker

As I mentioned above, this can be done by manually editing the Registry yourself. Follow these instructions:

  1. Open Registry Editor.
  2. Go to the following Registry key:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Photo Viewer\Capabilities\FileAssociations

    Tip: You can access any desired Registry key with one click.
    If you do not have such a Registry key, then just create it.

  3. There you need to create a bunch of string values, as mentioned below:

    Don't be confused with the PhotoViewer.FileAssoc.Tiff line, the actual Photo Viewer command is the same for all file types. You will get something like this:Windows 10 Photo Viewer Registry editor

Now, open the Set Default Programs window by following these instructions:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to System - Default apps and click the Set defaults by app in the bottom of the right pane. Windows 10 Settings set defaults by appThere you can set all desired extensions to be handled by Windows Photo Viewer. Windows 10 Set Program Associations

That's it. You are done.

Windows 10 default app confirmationWindows 10 get photoviewer back

Note for VirtualBox and other users who run Windows 10 in a virtual machine without hardware acceleration: Windows Photo Viewer now depends on Direct3D acceleration and will not work in your VM unless it has it enabled. But it works OK on real hardware.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

71 thoughts on “How get Windows Photo Viewer working in Windows 10”

  1. How to add new file support for Photos app using Registry? I have a codec which lets Windows Photo Viewer view .PSD files so I want to check whether that codec would let view same files in Photos app.

    1. The Photos app is an Universal app, I highly doubt that it can use codecs from the Windows Photo Viewer app. Universal apps are sandboxed and very limited in its features.

      1. I don‘t have a context menu option to try and see. How do I force Photos app to try to open a .PSD file I want?

        1. Apply this tweak:
          Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

          "Content Type"="image/psd"






          1. Thank you for trying to help me out but the trick didn‘t work :/ I guess I‘ll stay with Windows Photos Viewer.

          2. Due to limitations in the WinRT platform codec packs are not exposed to “Metro-Modern-WindowsStore” apps, as MS elected to block non-Microsoft codecs for them.

      1. oh ok
        disabling windows store works in windows 8/8.1/8.1.1 only:
        thanks for the reply

  2. Hi Sergey! Great app, makes the Windows 10 interface look a lot less bland, and puts back some ‘missing’ features, like Photo Viewer. However, I always used that for previewing images (another program for editing). Is there a way to bring back the Preview option in the context menus?

    1. This is how I’ve added a right-click context menu for all images in Windows 10 that lets Windows Photo Viewer open them, without having to overwrite its default program association. Copy the following lines and paste them into a new .REG file, and run it. Then right-click an image file and choose “Image Preview”.

      Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

      [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\image\shell\Image Preview]

      [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\image\shell\Image Preview\command]

      1. Yea, thanks! Works great. I changed Image Preview to just Preview though, so it looks like the command did in previous versions of Windows.

  3. Thank you thank you thank you!

    I found the windows 10 Photo app absolutely terrible for what I wanted, searched for ages to find a way to get it working. Winaero Tweaker is brilliant, sorted the problem and now I can use the photo viewer from windows 7 again, and so easily!!

    Thank you thank you thank you!

  4. Thank you so much for’s a blessing to be able to view a string of photos using the photo viewer. Hate it when M$ makes such sneaky changes!!!

  5. Thank you, this was so helpful! I couldn’t stand the Photos app! Do you know if there is a way to customize the “order” in which Windows photo viewer sorts photos? For instance, I have my pictures set to “Arrange by tag” but when i browse them in WPV, it still browses the folder a photo is in rather than a tag. It’s been bothering me ever since I updated!

  6. Hey Sergey !
    Is there a way to make the bottom bar of the image viewer preview window clear instead of the color I’ve chosen in the settings ?
    Basically it’s your last picture where you have the black background where the buttons for next, previous and dia show are.


  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! I spent hours trying to fix this this morning. I even ran the System File Checker tool, thinking there was some kind of registry error with my photo viewer. Like the file associations didn’t load properly when I upgraded to 10. Windows sure is trying to force that new program onto everyone. It still needs a lot of work though, I’m trying to like the new photo viewer, but it’s not there yet. In the mean time, I’ll stick to this route! thank you again.

  8. OMG this tiny little hack was the PERFECT solution! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

    WTF is wrong with M/S?? I’ve used Preview since XP days and I took the bait and “upgraded” to 10 (hated 8.1) and discovered that M/S has decided to delete this important (for me), yet simple function. I can only imagine what other PIA problems I will encounter with my “upgrade”. Needless to say my entire Windows 7 network will NOT be upgrading. It ain’t broke!

  9. Thank you very much. You made my day. I went crazy looking for a way restore windows photo viewer to windows 10 and you offered a magic weaker. I am very grateful!

  10. Thank you for posting this! I tried for 3 days to find out how to get the Windows Photo Viewer Back and thanks to your instructions I was able to do that in a few minutes! Greatly Appreciate it. I had to manually add the strings to the registry editor because unlike your sample they were not showing in the file associations. Your instructions just made my day.

  11. It seems Photo Viewer has been removed on Windows 10 Insider Build 16251. As when I enable it on Winaero Tweaker. I get a error message “server execution failed” when I try to open a picture. I had to disable it.

      1. Thanks. Please let me know if it works for you. Others told me it still working for them on Insider Build 16251.

        1. Just checked. No issues under Windows 10 build 16251.

          1. Thanks Sergey. As I thought it my end. It worked for me when I installed that build on VM.

          2. I found out it was Stardock WindowBlinds that prevented Photo Viewer for working on Insider build 16251 & 16257

  12. Thank you for the Winaero Tweaker app. I was not able to view any photos before – just the folders and blank squares for the pictures.
    Now they all appear as a sort of artists pallette, though when I select one the actual photo then appears. Is there something I have missed?

  13. Thanks my friend it works 100%. I used manual registry methods and it worked..!

    Now I can enjoy to see my pics and save much time..

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