How to Make Windows Photo Viewer the Default Image Viewer in Windows 11

Windows Photo Viewer was first released with Windows XP. Even though it’s ancient in terms of software, it still works pretty well on Windows 11. If you want to keep using it, you can – it’s not even difficult. This is how you can enable Windows Photo Viewer.

How to enable Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 11

There is usually no option to use the Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 11. The software is still included in the operating system, but it is completely disabled. Lucky for us, there are workarounds. In Windows 10, Windows Photo Viewer could be re-enabled with a registry hack – it turns out the exact same registry hack works in Windows 11 as well.

Download the zipped REG files using the link below and then open the ZIP archive with your favorite archive program. File Explorer is great if you don’t have a third-party program, as it’s great at extracting ZIP files.

Download Activate-Windows-Photo-Viewer-on-Windows-11

Double-click the ZIP file named “Activate Windows 11 Photo Viewer” to open it, then look for the REG key named “Activate Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 11.reg”.

Double-click the REG key and you will get a pop-up warning about security risks when adding registry keys.

You should be careful with REG files, especially if they come from an untrusted source, as they can be used maliciously. If you’re skeptical about a REG file—and you usually should be—you can check out what it does for yourself. Just open it in a regular text editor like Notepad and see what registry entries it changes. If it’s not immediately clear what a REG file does, and it usually isn’t, you can always find the corresponding keys on the Internet. The Windows Registry is well documented, so it’s not hard to figure out what the entries in the .reg file do.

In this case, the REG file comes from us and has been extensively tested over many years, so you can be sure that it is not malicious. Just go ahead and click Yes.

Windows Photo Viewer is now included. It will show up in all the usual places where you’ll find a photo viewer app, such as right-clicking the “Open with” list and the “Default Programs” menu.

How to Set Windows Photo Viewer as Default Photo Viewer in Windows 11

Windows 11 comes with the Photos app as the default app for almost every image format. If you want to change it to Windows Photo Viewer, there are several convenient ways to do so.

Right-click an image file to change the default program

You don’t really need to look through the Settings app to change which apps are used to open files of any given type. Options are built into the right-click context menu.

Right-click the PNG file, choose “Open With” and then click “Choose Another Application.”

Scroll through the list of applications until you see Windows Photo Viewer listed. You’ll probably need to tap “More Apps” for it to show up. Click “Windows Photo Viewer” once to select it, check the box at the bottom “Always use this app to open files. png, then click OK.

Any PNG you open after that will open in Windows Photo Viewer unless you tell it otherwise. You will need to repeat these steps for each image format (such as JPG or BMP) that you want to open in Windows Photo Viewer. Luckily, there aren’t too many of them, so it’s not too much work.

Use the default application window

Windows 11 has a centralized way to manage app-related file formats. It’s a really handy way to set default apps. Open the Settings app, go to Apps, then tap on Default Apps.

Advice. You can also just search for “Default Apps” in the start menu search bar.

Enter the desired image format in the search bar at the top of the window, such as “.jpg”, then click the square icon on the right.

The usual “Open with” window will appear. Scroll down, click More Apps, and then keep scrolling until you get to Windows Photo Viewer. Click once to select it, then click OK.

You’ll need to do this for each image format you want to associate with Windows Photo Viewer, but unlike other ways to change an application’s format association, you don’t actually need the image to right-click.

Keep in mind that just because Windows Photo Viewer is included in Windows 11 doesn’t mean it’s fully supported. This is old software and you may experience problems with it in the future. It may be completely removed in future updates.

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