In Windows 11, Windows Photo Viewer seems to have been removed, or at least very well hidden. I stumbled upon this issue after my upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11. Right-clicking an image file doesn’t offer me the option to open it with Windows Photo Viewer. And when I search for Windows Photo Viewer in the Windows start menu, it only returns the Windows Photos app. In this article, I’ll guide you on how to restore your Windows Photo Viewer (WPV) application and set it as your default image app. I’ll also provide valuable background information and helpful hints.
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Restore Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 11
In fact, Windows Photo Viewer is available on all Windows 10 and Windows 11 installations. The main problem is, that it is hidden and cannot be chosen from the Open With context menu. Luckily I have the steps here written down to get back the Windows Photo Viewer app:
- Download the Registry Fix for Windows Photo Viewer
- Open the downloaded ZIP File. Then double-click the REG file. When it asks for permission, subsequently click Yes.
- You will notice when you right-click an image file, the Windows Photo Viewer app is still not listed there. Therefore you need to Restart the Windows Explorer process in Task Manager. Or just restart your computer. Then, continue with step 4.
- Right-click the image file, select Open With, and select Choose Another App
- In the select box, scroll down until you see Windows Photo Viewer listed. Click once on it (a small line appears on the left of it) and click Always
- Done! For this file type/file extension, Windows Photo Viewer is now the default.
So you may wonder… How do I change other file extensions? And how do I know which ones are images? Continue reading the next paragraph!
How to change multiple image file types to open with Windows Photo Viewer?
Images come in several types of formats. Converting them all from the Photos app to WPV may be a bit time-consuming. But a good first step is to link the most used extensions to the WPV app.
- Open the Settings app, and click Apps -> Default Apps
- Scroll down to the Photos app and click on it.
- In Apps -> Default apps -> Photos, you now see a list of all file extensions that are linked to / opened with the Microsoft Photos app. For the following file extensions, you should click on it and change the application to Windows Photo Viewer:
That’s it! In the future, when you double-click one of these file types to open it, it will launch the Windows Photo Viewer app.
What’s the file location of the Windows Photo Viewer application
Strangely enough, the Windows Photo Viewer app is not an executable but is hidden in a DLL file. This was quite common in the old Windows XP era for certain windows. But at the same time unique for an application. Executables were much more common.
To launch the Windows Photo Viewer, you actually have to call rundll32.exe, combined with the PhotoViewer.dll path. But that’s not all, you also have to refer to the image you want to open.
For example, try this path to run in a command prompt window:
rundll32.exe “C:\Program Files\Windows Photo Viewer\PhotoViewer.dll”, ImageView_Fullscreen C:\Windows\Web\Screen\img100.jpg
Back in time: What is the Windows Photo Viewer?
Windows Photo Viewer is a user-friendly and essential application for viewing and managing image files on Microsoft Windows operating systems. Originally introduced with Windows XP and subsequently included in several Windows versions, it has become a ubiquitous tool for anyone seeking a straightforward and efficient means to browse, organize, and display their digital photographs and other image files. Although it may not be the best tool in the market, the Windows Photo Viewer application offers a hassle-free solution for individuals looking to view, zoom, rotate, and even perform minor editing tasks on their image collections. Because it’s free and built-in with every Windows version, it remains a popular choice for users who appreciate its simplicity and speed when it comes to handling their visual content.