How to restore Windows Photo Viewer on Windows 10

Windows 10 users who worked on devices with earlier versions of Windows or are still working on those devices may have used Windows Photo Viewer to view images on those devices in the past.

Windows Photo Viewer is still available on Windows 10 devices, but the accessibility of the program depends on whether Windows 10 is installed clean.

Windows Photo Viewer is available as an option if the device has been updated with an earlier version of Windows, for example Windows 7. Microsoft ships Windows Photo Viewer will also clean up Windows installations, but it is hidden and cannot be reactivated easily.

Why would you want to use Windows Photo Viewer and not Photos? Simple: photos use a multiple of the memory that Windows Photo Viewer needs to display images. If you use both tools to display the same image, Photos uses approximately three times as much RAM as Windows Photo Viewer. This increases a lot if you do not open the image directly in Photos, but instead go to the visual list of all available photos. The RAM usage can go up to 400, 500 or even more Megabytes.

Windows Photo Viewer should be available on devices that have been upgraded from earlier versions of Windows to Windows 10.

Do the following to find out if that is indeed the case:

  • Right-click an image on the Windows 10 machine and select Open With> Choose Another App.
  • Select “More apps” if Windows Photo Viewer is not in the list.
  • Scroll down to see if the program is listed. If you see the program there, that mean Windows Photo Viewer is installed and you can use it.

If the program is not there, you must make a few changes to the Windows registry to get it back.

Download the following registry file to your system from HERE. It works on both Windows 10 version 1803 and the latest Insider Build from Windows 10 version 1809. After downloading, extract the registry file and run the registry file to add the information to the registry. You must restart the PC and have Windows Photo Viewer as an option in the Open With menu and elsewhere on the operating system.