Three impressive alternatives to Photo Viewer in Windows 10

Every Windows 10 user knows that in this OS, Microsoft ditched the Windows Photo Viewer app and replaced it a less functional Universal app called Photos. In this article, I would like to draw your attention to three impressive alternative applications which can replace Windows Photo Viewer so you get back functionality, usability and speed.

While it is possible to restore Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 10, there are several reasons to look for a replacement.

  • Windows Photo Viewer can be removed by Microsoft any day with a new update to Windows 10.
  • Also, in Windows 10, Windows Photo Viewer requires Direct3D acceleration, which can cause performance issues on older hardware and make it unusable in a Virtual Machine like VirtualBox.
  • Windows Photo Viewer offers very basic functionality, isn't ultra-fast and lacks a lot of features and supported formats.
  • Windows Photo Viewer fails to open an image from a ZIP archive when you double click it in Explorer.

So, let's see which freeware and high quality alternatives we can use in Windows 10 instead of Windows Photo Viewer.


IrfanView is a very old software which I got familiar with in the Windows 98 era. Over the years, the author has continued his hard work for free and improved the app. It runs well on every modern Windows version. The best feature of IrfanView is its wide range of options and preferences which makes it very configurable.

IrfanView supports a huge number of image file formats and can be extended with plugins. It provides a number of image editing tools like crop, red eye removal tool, resizing, basic filters. The toolbar buttons support skins. IrfanView also provides a multi language user interface.

Besides image formats, it can also play various video and audio formats.

IrfanView features a slideshow feature, which can be saved as a screensaver.

It also comes with a directory browser mode called "Thumbnails":IrfanView opens fast and is very lightweight on system resources. It can be used to convert images from one format to another, and can also do batch conversions. You can use IrfanView to capture screenshots.

There are some caveats though with IrfanView. After installing the current version of IrfanView, which is 4.40, I noticed that it is bundled with unwanted software. By default, it offers a plugin for your browser and tries to change the default search provider and the browser's home page to Amazon. The user can skip this offer but it is not acceptable to bundle other software to keep the app free. Also, after installing, it annoyingly opens the user's default browser to show a FAQ page on its own website. This makes for a bad user experience. If you can excuse these issues, IrfanView is a great piece of software and one of the best Windows Photo Viewer replacements.


XnView is almost the same application as IrfanView. XnView is my software of choice. I switched to XnView back in 2001. XnView has a faster image browser and its image rendering quality is much better than what IranView offers. XnView can be used as a portable application since one of its download options is just a ZIP archive without an installer.

XnView also supports plugins, multi language translations and a wide range of image and media file formats. It offers a slideshow feature, a screenshot capture option and many other options which can be useful for everyone.

I consider XnView as the best Photo Viewer replacement. I use it on every operating system I have installed, in Linux too, with a special Qt version, which is also free.

XnView is not bundled with any third party unwanted software.


Imagine is the third app which is worth mentioning. It has the power and features of the apps reviewed above but the surprising thing is Imagine is just about 1MB in size! It is the fastest app amongst the ones reviewed. It also has plugins, screenshot capture and converter tools and many other options you definitely will find useful.

It is not bundled with other adware or malware. Imagine also has a portable version. All these features make it one of the best image viewers available for Windows. It is also free. Imagine can be your ultimate choice if you have low end hardware since it is very lightweight.

All of the three mentioned apps are impressive pieces of software. Their authors have done a remarkable job to keep them lightweight yet useful, powerful and free for personal use. Give them a try and decide for yourself which app is the most suitable for you.

In the Windows world, there are hundreds of other image viewers which are good, fast and useful. Tell us in the comments what you are using to view your images and why.

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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.

29 thoughts on “Three impressive alternatives to Photo Viewer in Windows 10”

    1. I think this photo viewer is also a good alternative. I love its full screen feature to view large images.

    2. On my old PC, which has just died! I loved having all my pictures as a slide show screensaver using Windows Live. It seems I won’t be able to do this with my new Windows 10, Is there any other way I can do the same with Windows 10? Thank you.

    1. That’s the only one I’ve found so far that’s *just* an image viewer, the others all operate as image organisers too.

  1. I was on the market for a good free image viewer for a long time and I found my favorite so far Honeyview: Ultrafast Image Viewer

    Honeyview is a very fast image viewer supporting various formats.
    It also supports viewing the images in compressed ZIP, RAR, or 7z files without extraction. If an image has GPS information, the location can be viewed on Google Maps, and users can store preferred photos.

  2. Even though Google discontinued Picasa, I still use it and think that it’s the most simple and easiest to use. Sad to see it discontinued. :/

    1. That’s a Google’s thing, first they provide a great software, then they ditch it and replace it with another newer/crappy one, they keep doing the same thing till today especially on Android devices !

    2. Picasa corrupted hundreds of my images that were kept on a backup drive. They appeared fine while using Picasa, but could not be opened in other editing software. FYI I stay clear of google software when I can help it.

  3. thanks a lot! at last I found a viewer to replace my 10 year old ACDsee which cannot read unicode file!
    I need image viewer that can replicate ACDsee 8, even newer ACDsee changed how the files navigate.
    I need viewer that can do that and Imagine is the one I seek! :)
    I’ve tried Irfan, XN, Honey, and the last is Nomacs, Nomacs was promising but 1 year later it does not develop to the viewer I wanted. Luckily in my frustration I found your blog. If only ACDSee 8 can read unicode, I’ll never switch to other viewer :)

  4. I got so frustrated with the windows 10 photo app that I went searching for something better. Found this website and have started with xnview – looking so much better so far! Thanks for the tip.

  5. Not impressed with XnView. Just installed it and it has added a load of shit to my context menu that I can’t get rid of…

    1. Context menu entries can be disabled from settings.
      The application asks explicitly if you want to have them or not at the first start.
      You technically allowed XnView to do this.

  6. One feature that I like that only the Windows Photo Viewer and Photos app has is the ability to view images from virtual folders or Libraries. For example, in my Pictures Library, I have wallpapers from multiple different subfolders. It can effortlessly view them all if I do kind:picture search. Do you know any other app which can do this?

  7. I’m looking for a replacement for Photo Gallery which was no longer available with Windows 10. I am totally lost without being able to use that. Are the above 3 choices editing programs as well?
    Thank you.

  8. Hi,
    \I am using KrojamSoft PhotoViewerPro program software…\
    Thats amazing………………… to view and edit images

  9. Thanks for this article. Frustrated with the Windows App. Never heard of Xvview. I’ll try it. FYI, link for Imagine is dead end.

  10. It’s FINALLY time that FastStone must go off my PC. I am using it for years.
    It is otherwise nice, but *incredibly* slow when browsing my image folders. It takes forever despite it using the database for the thumbnails. Recently, it is really bringing my PC to a stop because it takes 30 seconds or so until I can even access a folder. I have no idea what it does, it’s constantly accessing something and taking forever.

    I switched to XNViewMP, and it’s excellent from what I see.

  11. The Imagine link leads to the author’s bio, without any download links at all. Googling “Imagine”, I selected the Photonic website to download the software. Negotiated the usual attempts to get you to download something else and finally managed to get an msi copy. Installed and started it – Windows reports that Imagine has stopped working. It never actually started working at all. Too bad.

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