Windows Photo Viewer was a useful and simple tool in Windows 7, so it kind of boggles the mind that Microsoft decided to steadily phase it out over subsequent Windows versions in favour of the volatile “Photos” app.
These days Microsoft has made it hard to get the Photo Viewer back by removing its “exe” file altogether. With a little workaround, however, you can set it as your default photo viewing app again. Here’s how.
If You Upgraded From Windows 7/8
If you’re running Windows 10 after upgrading from Windows 7 or 8, then good news: you should still have registry entries for Windows Photo Viewer on your PC, and it shouldn’t be a problem to set Photo Viewer as the default.
One option is to find a JPEG, PNG, or whatever kind of image file you want to associate with Photo Viewer, right-click it, then click “Open with” and select “Windows Photo Viewer.”
If it’s not there, click “Choose another app” from the “Open with” menu, then scroll down, click “More apps,” scroll down to the bottom again, click “Look for another app on this PC,” then navigate to “C:\Program Files\Windows Photo Viewer” and select the Windows Photo Viewer executable.
If You Don’t Have the Photo Viewer Exe File
If you can’t find the executable, then it means that your Windows version never had it in the first place or that Microsoft removed it in an update.
Photo Viewer is still there on your PC, but only as a “dll” file, and not an executable. To get it back we’ll need to create a new registry file.
Thankfully, Tenforums user Edwin did much of the legwork here, creating the necessary code to restore Photo Viewer in the Windows context menu.
Click below to see the code, then copy and paste it into a blank Notepad file.
Next, click “File -> Save as” and save it as a “.reg” file, similarly to how we did in the picture below.
Once saved, navigate to the new reg file in Windows Explorer, right-click it, and finally click “Merge.”
The file should register successfully. Now when you right-click an image file and select “Open with” and “Choose another app,” you’ll see that Windows Photo Viewer is once again there as an option (possibly after clicking “More apps”). Select it, then tick the “Always use this app to open files” box.
The fact that Windows Photo Viewer is such a faff to get working again on Windows 10 is a grim sign of Microsoft’s rather pushy policy in moving Windows users onto exactly the apps they want you to use. So think of this return to Photo Viewer as a little act of defiance against Microsoft! If enough people do it, maybe they’ll take note and reinstate Photo Viewer where it belongs.
Image credit: Frames