How to Get Windows Photo Viewer Back in Windows 11

Photo Viewer

Ditch the slow and sluggish Windows Photos app and enable the good ol’ Windows Photos Viewer on your Windows 11 PC.

Windows Photo Viewer was replaced by the Windows Photos app sometime back. Though the Windows Photos app is not half bad, in fact, it has a built-in photo and video editor with some decent tools at your disposal. Moreover, it also categorizes your media pretty well.

However, despite having a great user interface, it is still not able to provide a great user interface just because of sluggish performance on almost every Windows device. It is that noticeable lag when trying to open pictures on a Windows laptop that breaks the deal.

In stark contrast, Windows Photo Viewer was blazing fast and provided decent enough functionalities for daily photo viewing. If you also prefer the Windows Photo Viewer more than the modern Photos app to view pictures on your Windows device, this guide will serve you just fine.

Though the process is a two-part process, however, that doesn’t make the process cumbersome at all. First, you will need to create and run a registry file on your Windows 11 computer, this will run the necessary scripts to enable the Windows Photo Viewer on the latest Windows operating system. Then, you will need to make the Windows Photo View your default app to view images on your system. Hence, let’s begin with creating the registry files.

Create and Run a Registry File to Enable the Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 11

While creating a registry file might sound like a highly technical task with a long process. In reality, you can easily create a registry file using the Notepad app that came preloaded on your computer.

To do so, first, head to the Start Menu and type Notepad in the menu to perform a search for it. Then, from the search results, click on the ‘Notepad’ tile to open the app.

Next, on the notepad window, type or copy+paste the below-mentioned command in the notepad file and click on the ‘File’ tab to reveal the overflow menu. Then, click to select the ‘Save’ button to proceed. Alternatively, you can also press Ctrl+S keys together on your keyboard to perform the same action. This will open a separate window on your screen.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Applications\photoviewer.dll]

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Applications\photoviewer.dll\shell]

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Applications\photoviewer.dll\shell\open]
"MuiVerb"="@photoviewer.dll,-3043"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Applications\photoviewer.dll\shell\open\command]
@=hex(2):25,00,53,00,79,00,73,00,74,00,65,00,6d,00,52,00,6f,00,6f,00,74,00,25,\
00,5c,00,53,00,79,00,73,00,74,00,65,00,6d,00,33,00,32,00,5c,00,72,00,75,00,\
6e,00,64,00,6c,00,6c,00,33,00,32,00,2e,00,65,00,78,00,65,00,20,00,22,00,25,\
00,50,00,72,00,6f,00,67,00,72,00,61,00,6d,00,46,00,69,00,6c,00,65,00,73,00,\
25,00,5c,00,57,00,69,00,6e,00,64,00,6f,00,77,00,73,00,20,00,50,00,68,00,6f,\
00,74,00,6f,00,20,00,56,00,69,00,65,00,77,00,65,00,72,00,5c,00,50,00,68,00,\
6f,00,74,00,6f,00,56,00,69,00,65,00,77,00,65,00,72,00,2e,00,64,00,6c,00,6c,\
00,22,00,2c,00,20,00,49,00,6d,00,61,00,67,00,65,00,56,00,69,00,65,00,77,00,\
5f,00,46,00,75,00,6c,00,6c,00,73,00,63,00,72,00,65,00,65,00,6e,00,20,00,25,\
00,31,00,00,00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Applications\photoviewer.dll\shell\open\DropTarget]
"Clsid"="{FFE2A43C-56B9-4bf5-9A79-CC6D4285608A}"

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Applications\photoviewer.dll\shell\print]

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Applications\photoviewer.dll\shell\print\command]
@=hex(2):25,00,53,00,79,00,73,00,74,00,65,00,6d,00,52,00,6f,00,6f,00,74,00,25,\
00,5c,00,53,00,79,00,73,00,74,00,65,00,6d,00,33,00,32,00,5c,00,72,00,75,00,\
6e,00,64,00,6c,00,6c,00,33,00,32,00,2e,00,65,00,78,00,65,00,20,00,22,00,25,\
00,50,00,72,00,6f,00,67,00,72,00,61,00,6d,00,46,00,69,00,6c,00,65,00,73,00,\
25,00,5c,00,57,00,69,00,6e,00,64,00,6f,00,77,00,73,00,20,00,50,00,68,00,6f,\
00,74,00,6f,00,20,00,56,00,69,00,65,00,77,00,65,00,72,00,5c,00,50,00,68,00,\
6f,00,74,00,6f,00,56,00,69,00,65,00,77,00,65,00,72,00,2e,00,64,00,6c,00,6c,\
00,22,00,2c,00,20,00,49,00,6d,00,61,00,67,00,65,00,56,00,69,00,65,00,77,00,\
5f,00,46,00,75,00,6c,00,6c,00,73,00,63,00,72,00,65,00,65,00,6e,00,20,00,25,\
00,31,00,00,00

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Applications\photoviewer.dll\shell\print\DropTarget]
"Clsid"="{60fd46de-f830-4894-a628-6fa81bc0190d}"

Now, on the ‘Save as’ window, click on the dropdown menu present right beside the ‘Save as type’ option and select the ‘All files’ option. Then, provide an appropriate name to the file with the .reg extension and click on the ‘Save’ button to save the file on your PC.

Once the file has been saved, head to the directory you have saved the file and double-click on it to run it.

Now, a UAC (User Account Control) screen will appear on your screen. If you are not logged in with an admin account, provide the credentials for one. Otherwise, click on the ‘Yes’ button to continue.

Then, again a prompt will appear on your screen to ask for your permission to alter the values in the registry editor. Click on the ‘Yes’ button to proceed.

And that’s it, now all is left is to select the Windows Photo Viewer app as the default option to view pictures on your Windows 11 device.

Setting the Windows Photo Viewer as your Default App to Open Photos

Once you have created and run the registry file on your Windows 11 system to enable the Windows Photo Viewer, all you need to do is set it as the default app which is a very straightforward process.

To set the Windows Photo Viewer as your default picture viewer, first, head to any directory on your device that contains a photo using File Explorer. You can open File Explorer either from the ‘This PC’ icon present on your desktop or by pressing the Windows+E keys together on your keyboard.

Then, once you have located a picture, right-click on the item to reveal the context menu. Next, hover over the ‘Open with’ option in the menu to expand the option. After that, click on the ‘Choose another app option’ to proceed. This will open a separate window on your screen.

Now, from the separately opened window, scroll down to locate and click on the ‘Windows Photo Viewer’ option. In case you are not able to find the option, click on the ‘More Apps’ button to expand the menu further.

Then, once located, click on the option to select and click on the checkbox preceding the ‘Always use this app to open files’ option. Finally, click on the ‘OK’ button to set the Windows Photo Viewer app default for that file type and open the picture in the app.


That’s it, people, hopefully using this guide, you will be able to get back the Windows Photo Viewer and ditch the slow and sluggish Windows Photo app.