How to change the default photo viewer in Windows

By default, when I double click on a photo in Windows, Windows Photo Viewer opens the photo! That’s great, but I want it to open with another image viewer, such as Photoshop, GIMP, etc

If this problem also bothers you, there is a simple way to change default photo viewer in Windows for the application of your choice! Actually, there are two ways to solve this problem.

In addition, you can configure it so that one type of image opens with one application and another type opens with another program. So you can open JPG images with Photoshop and GIF images with Photo Viewer, for example.

Note that in addition to changing the default image viewer, you can follow the same steps below to change the default media player, default web browser, etc. default media, you would choose your media player from the list, i.e. VLC Media Player, and then adjust the settings for it.

Adjust default programs

If you’re still running Windows XP, be sure to read my separate post on how to change the default program to open files because the XP process is different.

In Windows 7 and later, you can change the type of file a program opens, or you can change the program used when opening a specific file type. Click on Control Panel and then click Default program while under icon view.

default program

Here you will see two options that I mentioned above: Set your default programs and Associate a file type or protocol with a program.

set default value of program

If you click on the first link, you will get a list of different programs installed on your computer. Select a program and Windows will tell you how many defaults it is set to open.

program default window

Then you can click Make this program default leave it open all default file types or you can click Select default value for this program to select specific file types.

establish program associations

In the example above, Internet Explorer is set to open GIF images and Microsoft Office 2010 is set to open JPG files. All other formats are set to open with Windows Photo Viewer. For example, if you want to use another program to open photos, select that program from the list, then select Make this program default.

Adjustment via Open with

Go back and click Adjust file type or protocol with a program will allow you to browse through hundreds of file types stored on your computer and then change the default program to open that file type.

file type association

When you click Change program you will get the list Recommended programs and Other programsalong with an option to Browse to a program not currently listed.

open the program with

The advantage of this method as opposed to the first option is that here you can choose any program you want to open the file. In the first method, only the programs registered with Windows show up in that list and there is no way to add the missing program manually.

You can also get to this same dialog by right clicking on any file in Explorer, clicking Open with and then click Select default program.

open with dialog

Default Programs of Windows 8, 10

In Windows 8 and Windows 10, things are a bit different because now you have desktop apps and you have Windows Store apps. By default, all PCs running Windows 8/10 will have Windows Photo Viewer and the Photos app installed. The former is a desktop app and will load there and the latter is a Windows Store app and will load as an app.

You can follow the same procedures as for Windows 7, but the only difference is that you’ll see Windows Store apps listed as options as well. As mentioned earlier, you can change other defaults such as the default media player to another program or application of your choice instead of Video or Movies & TV apps in Windows 8 and Windows 10.

Windows 8 default program

Hopefully you can now double-click an image and expect the correct program to open. You need to be careful when changing these settings because there is no way to simply reset all default programs back to their original values. I’m not sure why this option doesn’t exist, because it should, but it’s not there.

The only real way to reset default programs is download a registry file will manually change each value or create a new user profile. These settings are stored on a per-user basis, so creating a new user account will help you start from scratch. If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment. Interesting!

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