The new Windows Photos app isn’t bad. It’s actually been around since Windows 8 but is still the most recent built-in option for viewing photos. It has a nice interface and decent image-filtering options off the bat. However, it’s also prone to not working as it should.
If you have an issue with the Photos app not working, these fixes can be implemented, as can this alternative that’s built right into Windows.
Note: before going through the below tips, the first thing you should try, as with many Windows issues, is to run a basic check for corrupt system files on Windows 10. To do this, just open the command prompt, enter the command
sfc /scannow and restart Windows.
Use Windows Store Apps Troubleshooter
Photos is a Windows Store app using Microsoft’s proprietary UWP format that causes all kinds of problems. (Check out the litany of problems with Xbox Game Pass for PC, as an example.) The first port of call to fix this is the built-in Windows troubleshooter for Photos and other Windows apps.
Go to “Settings -> Update & Security -> Troubleshoot -> Additional troubleshooters.”
Scroll down to Windows Store Apps and click “Run the troubleshooter” to see if that fixes the problem.
Optimize Photos App’s Internal Settings
If your Photos app is running slowly, one solution could be to tweak its internal settings to make it work more smoothly.
Open the Photos app from the Start menu. Go to the three-dot icon at the top right and select “Settings.”
Many configuration settings with the Photos app may have been enabled by default. To ensure a fast response time, you need to optimize these settings. The most important one is the Photos app’s sync with OneDrive, which is something you may not need frequently. Every time you’re online, it can affect the speed of the Photos app. Thus, you need to turn off the option “show my cloud-only content from OneDrive.”
Also, you can turn off “Display delete confirmation dialog,” which consumes extra memory. Hardware-accelerated video encoding is also something you don’t need unless you are planning to use the Photos app as a video editor.
The Photos app can be truly busy using up lots of memory to load a pictures folder. Therefore, you should also “disable indexing parts of your photo library stored on Network locations.”
Install Windows Media Pack (Windows 10 N and KN)
As with every Windows release, there are several different versions of Windows 10 available for purchase. We’re not just talking about the usual Home and Professional versions either. For example, the “N” and “KN” versions of Windows 10, which are special versions of Windows made for Europe and Korea.
The main difference between these and other versions of Windows is that they don’t contain Windows Media Player, Groove Music, and other multimedia apps, nor the libraries needed to play that multimedia. This, strangely, can affect the Photos app because that relies on multimedia libraries too.
You can check your Windows 10 version by clicking Start, then typing “about” and selecting “About your PC.” Scroll down in the new window and see what’s next to “OS build.” If you see an “N” or “KN” next to your OS build, try downloading the Windows 10 Media Feature Pack to fix the Photos app.
Check Permissions in File System
One of the most frequent reasons the Photos – or other UWP – app may not work is the modified permissions in the file system. What exactly is the file system, and what does this mean?
The file system, simply put, is Windows’s way of organizing how files and data on your PC are stored. There are many layers to this, ranging from metadata (length of music files, location photos were taken, data file was created, etc.) to the surface-level filenames.
One of the parts of the file system is permissions, which dictates which users on the PC have access to the file and the level of access they have (read, read-write, etc.). Whether by user or system error, sometimes these permissions can change in a way that effectively locks you out of using a given file or app.
This can happen with the Photos app too.
To check this, you need to go to three folders on your system and make sure that their “ALL APPLICATION PACKAGES” permissions are in order.
To do this, navigate to each of the folders listed below the screenshot, right-click them, then click the “Security tab -> ALL APPLICATION PACKAGES” and make sure that the following permissions are allowed. (Click “Edit” in the Security tab.)
- Program Files – Read, Read and Execute, List folder contents
- Windows – Read, Read and Execute, List folder contents
- \<userName>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\WER\ – Special permissions, List folder contents, Read & execute
Update the Photos App
There are quite a few intricate solutions in this list, so we figured it’s best to start with the simplest ones. Your first port of call should be to update the Photos app, which may improve the features as well as iron out any niggling bugs contained therein.
To do this, go to the Microsoft Store app, click the three-dot menu icon at the top-right corner, then click “Downloads and Updates.”
On the new screen, click “Get updates.” If there’s an update you haven’t yet installed for the Photos app, it will appear in the download queue and start to download.
If it doesn’t start downloading right away and is stuck on “Pending,” you can click the three-dot menu icon to the right of it, then click “Download now” to get it going.
Reset the Photos App
Resetting the Photos app will wipe the app’s cache and reset all its data to default settings.
To do this, right-click the Start menu and go to “Apps and Features.” Next, scroll down to “Photos” in the list and click it, then click “Advanced options,” and in the next window click “Reset.” This will wipe all data from the Photos app, including any saved image presets or settings you may have had and get it back to its original state.
Remove and Reinstall the Photos App
The more drastic option is to remove the Photos app manually and then reinstall it. Unfortunately, you can’t do this through the “Apps and Features” list like you could a normal app. Instead, you need to use an elevated PowerShell command.
Click the Start menu, type
powershell, then right-click PowerShell and “Run as administrator.” In the Powershell window, type the following:
After you’ve hit Enter, the Photos app should be gone from your computer. To reinstall it, go to the Microsoft Store app, search for “Photos,” then select and install the Photos app (with “Microsoft Corporation” listed as its developer).
Perform a System Restore
If you more or less know when the problems started with your Photos app, you can perform a System Restore to a happier time, before the issues began.
Go to the Start menu, type
restore, then click “Create a restore point.” In the new window, click “System Restore,” then follow the prompts until you can select a restore point. Select the one you want (ideally before your Photos app problems started) and go ahead with the process.
Just Use Windows Photo Viewer
For many people, the old Windows Photo Viewer worked just fine. While it wasn’t as flashy as “Photos,” it did the job and was a functional and convenient way of browsing your photos in a given folder.
Microsoft has steadily phased Photo Viewer out, however, and if you have a PC with Windows 10 pre-installed, you’ll need to get a bit techy to set Photo Viewer as the default.
Windows 10 isn’t all bad, though, and you can make it more fun by checking out our list of 10 awesome screensavers you can get for it. Also see our guide on setting allocation unit size with your new hard drive.