Windows 7 was the best OS Microsoft ever launched. Packed with regular security updates, a refined UI and inbuilt programs made our lives a little better. One of the better features was the Windows Photo Viewer. It was a simple program that let us preview our pictures, adjust the basic alignment of photos and a slideshow to share those memories with our families. Everything was great until Microsoft decided to push their photos app across all platforms. Windows 10 wasn’t left either. Now everyone might have a preference over which apps they use but I prefer the older version which was easy to use and quick for previews.
Photos on Windows is the default app and you are forced to use it if you don’t have any other apps installed. Microsoft Photos has its own advantages and disadvantages. Some like it for its onboard editing features and others despise it due to its slow loading time.
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Installing a third-party photo viewer app isn’t going to be enough, you also have to make it your default default Photo viewer app on Windows 10 , to do tht type Default in the search bar > goto Default Apps Settings > Click on Photos. Now you can select any Photo viewer as your default image viewer
Your beloved Windows photo Viewer is back, just restart your computer and enjoy the nostalgia. Oh and if you wish to deactivate it just run ‘Deactivate Windows Photo Viewer on Windows 10’ file and restart.
Best Photo Viewer for Windows 10
We have a list of alternatives that you can use if you’re one of us and are looking to use anything but Photos.
1. Windows Photo Viewer
It has been a part of the Windows family for a long time and was previously known as Windows Picture and Fax Viewer (Windows XP) and later renamed as Windows Photo Viewer. Microsoft has replaced this app with its universal platform Photos now. But the developers didn’t remove it completely from the system as it is still in the files just not accessible to the user. You need a special registry file to tweak the registry to make it work. The files can be downloaded from this link and when installed, would allow you to use Windows Photo Viewer like before.
Features: Windows Photo Viewer is a simple native application which lets user previews the pictures. It has a quick button to rotate those pictures and save them in that orientation. You can use the slideshow button to automatically play the pictures.
File formats: It supports most common image file formats like JPEG, PNG, BMP, TIFF, etc.
Pros: it is loved for its lightweight user interface, minimal features and fast load times.
Cons: it doesn’t have many editing options, rotating images create a reduced sized image, doesn’t support GIFs.
Every Windows 10 has a hidden Windows Photo Viewer in the OS, but it’s just not accessible.
How to get Windows Photo Viewer back in Windows 10
If you have upgraded to Windows 10 from a previous version of Windows, go to Settings and go to System > Default apps. Under “Photo viewer,” you should see your current default photo viewer. However, if you have installed Windows 10 from scratch follow these steps to activate the tool for your windows:
- Download these registry files, Windows photo viewer
- Extract and run ‘Activate Windows Photo Viewer on Windows 10’ file
- That’s it.
Honey is the most basic third-party image viewer, it’s almost similar to Windows Photos Viewer in functionality and features.
Features: It allows you to rotate images and perform basic resizing with it. Editing can be done by attaching a link to either Photoshop or Paint. You can bookmark images with this software for future references.
Format: It supports major file formats JPG, PNG, GIF, BMP, and PSD.
Pros: Easy to use and resembles Windows Photo Viewer.
Cons: No editing tools inbuilt.
Download HoneyView (free)
IrfanView is our pick for best photo viewer for Windows 10.
One of the most popular third-party image viewing applications. It has been around since 1996 and is still as useful. IrfanView was created by the creator Irfan Sklijan. It is free to use application for a non-commercial license. The software is pretty light, easy to use and supports a large graphics file format base.
Features: IrfanView is optimized to perform better using the minimum resources, with occupying only 2MB space on your Hard disk. It is not just an image viewing software but comes with a few inbuilt editing tools as well. For instance, it supports OCR to “read” text on an image and export it to an editable text, you can color correct pictures, insert text/ watermark to your pictures and add a few different effects.
Format: It supports a variety of different file formats, such as BMP, GIF, JPEG, JP2 & JPM, PNG, TIFF, raw photo formats from digital cameras, ECW, EMF, FSH, ICO, PCX, PBM, PDF, PGM, PPM, TGA, Flash, Ogg and text files
Pros: Lightweight and easy to use with a versatile file format base. Can open big image files taken from DSLR with ludicrous speed, support more than 50 IrfanView plugins https://www.irfanview.com/plugins.htm
Cons: When it comes to UI, it’s not the best-looking app out there, scrolling through images in a folder is painfull because it keeps trying to open non-image. Although it can be fixed by playing with the settings
Download IrfanView (free)
4. FastStone Image Viewer
The FastStone image viewer is a free windows based image viewer and supports many languages as well. It has a slideshow with many attractive transition effects.
Features: It supports multi-monitor configuration which would come in handy if you work with a large number of images. You can also rename and convert a batch of files with this software. You can view a batch of files relatively fast without opening each file. It has a compact version which can be copied to a flash drive which essentially allows the software to run without installation. You can directly attach the files to your emails.
Format: Supports all major graphic formats (BMP, JPEG, JPEG 2000, animated GIF, PNG, PCX, TIFF, WMF, ICO, and TGA), with a focus on popular digital camera RAW formats such as Canon’s CR2 and Sony’s ARW.
Pros: supports batch renaming and converting, email option
Cons: thumbnail generation and overall scrolling is slow.
Download Faststone (Free)
When looking for an image viewer it’s always a perk if you get additional features right? Initially supporting Unix systems as well, Xnview now only supports Windows Systems and offers not just an image viewer but an organizer and editor too. XnView is a robust software and supports multiple languages.
Features: XnView Supports 500 image formats and a few video and audio formats as well. Scripting to rename a batch of files in a single stretch is offered by this software. You can edit files using basic tools like crop, resize, orientation, and a bunch of effects. you can edit Raster images with this software.
Format: It supports most of the popular image file formats like JPG, BMP, GIF, PNG, TIFF, close to 500 image file formats.
Pros: supports large file format base, scripting for basic tasks is allowed.
Cons: It is free only for private use.
Download XnView (free)
6. ACDSee Ultimate
If you’re a fan of the Rock band AC/DC you’ll know the name of this software is just a play on words. As awesome as the band, this software is full of special talents. It offers thumbnail view, lossless rotation, resize and crop.
Features: One of the better features of this software is that it allows you to look at the images inside a zip file without extracting it. ACDSee allows you to adjust exposure, colors, and contrast of an image. Red-eye removal is just a button away if you have a lot of low light images that may have caused you to look like a demon.
Format: ACDSee supports close to 61 image and 33 video formats including the more popular ones like JPG, PNG, BMP, GIF, and PSD. It also supports most of the raw file formats.
Pros: view images inside zipped archives without extracting.
Cons: It only has a free trial for 30 days and the paid version is quite exquisite at $109 for the whole package.
Download ACDSee (1-month free trial)
QuickLook is a tool developed for windows keeping Quicklook, a MacOS tool developed by Apple for quick previews of contents of a file quickly. Its smooth loading interface and quick response time bring it at par with Apple’s Quick Look feature.
If you haven’t used Quick Look on mac, here is how it looks like – simply click on a file and then press the spacebar. A preview of the item pops up —like a picture, an audio, PDF or even a video file. Once done, press spacebar again to close the preview.
And guess what, to get the Mac’s QuickLook feature on Windows, you can use this new app – QuickLook. The app is free and works quite well in our testing. You might face minor bugs as it is still under development.
How is it different from preview mode in the file explorer?
Yes, you can use preview pane. But, a small sidebar isn’t very practical (imagine doing this with PDF file), while a dedicated pop-out window is a lot more intuitive and detailed.
Features: It allows a user to preview the file contents just by pressing a hotkeys ‘space bar’. Quicklook runs in the background quietly and listens for the hotkeys trigger, a few different hotkeys to control the environment of the file are available.
Format: It supports multiple file formats like images, videos, and text files.
Pros: quick and responsive.
Cons: Doesn’t actually has an option to manipulate the files on its own. Unlike other apps in this list, Quicklook is only available on Windows 10.
Download Quicklook (free)
Everyone loves free stuff and if the product works well that’s even better. Nomacs is a free to use Open source image viewer which lets you do more than just view images.
Features: Nomacs offers mosaic generation by taking an image and overlaying a database of images based on similarities of their histograms. A unique feature of Nomacs is the synchronization of multiple instances. With this feature, you can easily compare images by zooming and/or panning at the exact same position or even by overlaying them with different opacity. You can activate cache and reduce image switch times. Not only it reads images in the zip archives but MS office documents as well, you can add notes to the images to keep track of their origin. Nomacs includes image manipulation methods for adjusting brightness, contrast, saturation, hue, gamma, exposure.
Format: It supports all the popular image formats including camera raw formats.
Pros: you can compare multiple images simultaneously by using multiple instance sync.
Cons: Recent updates have made it slow.
Download Nomacs (free)
Final Thoughts: Best Photo Viewer for Windows 10
We listed few of the best image viewers available for Windows, every software has its own selling point. Irfanview takes a spot because of its lightning fast interface. If you like keeping your system clean FastStone is for you as you can keep the software on a small flash drive. Xnview and Nomacs best for handling a batch of images, either to rename or convert them to a more compatible image format. HoneyView is best if for some reason you can’t have the Windows Photo Viewer and want something similar, while Windows Photo Viewer is for people looking to go back to the simple image viewer.