Reinstating Classic Windows Photo Viewer in Server 2016

Some people really prefer the older style photo viewer from Windows 7/2008R2 and I have had a few requests for this to be re-instated in Windows 10/Server 2016.

I have compromised a guide below which outlines to necessary steps in order to be able to allow Photo Viewer to launch and then to create the relevant file associations and make them stick with all users in the environment.

The first think you will need to do is download the following zip file:

This contains the relevant .reg file to create the file associations for Windows Photo Viewer so that it appears in the list of programs within Windows.

Open your base image and run the .reg file to import the settings into the registry.

Now open the control panel within your base image, select “Default Programs”, select “Set Your Default Programs”.

Select “Windows Photo Viewer” on the left and then “Choose Defaults for this Program”.

Select the relevant file extensions and select “Save”.

Windows Photo Viewer is now the default application for these file extensions. Go ahead and test to make sure your changes all stuck.

Now, if this is an environment where end user machines are non-persistent you will need to re-present these file associations for users. To do this you can import some default file associations using Group Policy.

This is achieved by using DISM to export file associations and then getting them imported again for the user using Group Policy.

Open PowerShell and run the following command to export a file association document. Save this somewhere that can be referenced by users.

Dism /Online /Export-DefaultAppAssociations:\\Server\Share\DefAppAssoc.xml


The Group Policy Entry you are looking to set to allow the document to be imported is as follows:

  • Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer


Now all users will have a default file association set for Windows Photo Viewer.

Happy Photo Viewing!

Comments 36

  • Thank you very much

  • Hi, am curious what you mean by “Some people really prefer the older style photo viewer”, what is the new style? I’m looking for Photo Viewer on Server 2016 but it seems to be gone completely, with no way (new or old) to view images.

    • Hi Jeff, windows 10 and server 2016 has a default app called “photos”

      • I agree. I’ve installed 2016 many times and the default photo viewer is paint. Ridiculous!

      • The ‘Photos’ app is not available in Windows Server 2016, only Windows 10. In fact none of the ‘native Windows 10 apps’ like Edge, Photos, Calculator, etc, are available in Windows Server 2016.

  • Thanks for the post. While this worked I now have an issue: in Outlook every time I double-click a photo attachment, it asks me to select the default program first. As if it does not save my preference. Any clue?

    • Hi Bob

      Please try opening the file type association file and checking that the entry has been populated correctly. Feel free to email me the contents. Thanks

      • Hi Bob, Lee,

        I ran into the same situation: photoviewer is recognized as default but outlook always prompt to select the default progam.
        Did you get this solved?

        • Hi Joeri

          Sounds interesting, I’d like to see your setup. Outlook used to rely on the defaults in IE, under settings, programs but that should now all be moved to Windows 10/2016 file type associations. We may need to dig through the XML a bit. Feel free to send me the XML @

          • I’ve run into this a few times. If photoviewer is enabled after office is installed, Outlook does this.

            If Office is uninstalled completely and then reinstalled the issue is fixed.

          • Strange, I’ve not come across this but will bear in mind. Thanks Peter.

          • I have this same issue. Tried reinstalling Office but issue remains.
            Was there ever a solution to this?

          • Hi Jason, What issue are you seeing?

          • For those that have run into the issue with the Outlook pop asking for the the default viewer you will need to delete the profile of the user having the issue and then have them login again to the server. We had this issue until we did that even after following all of the other instructions in this blog. We utilize roaming profiles here as well since we have multiple servers so we had to delete the roaming profile stored on our main server or it would keep pulling down the same issue. We are running Server 2019.

    • I get the same Default Program pop-up every time I try to open a attachment from either Outlook or Axapta. If i open a file through File Explorer everything is fine.
      If I change to Paint the pop-up are gone.

  • This doesn’t work for me unfortunately, attempting to do it in Windows Server 2016. I’ve followed the above exactly (apart from the DISM/GPO stuff that doesn’t apply in my case because my image is persistent). I’ve then cleared a test user’s profile and logged in. JPGs still open in Paint. I’m using mandatory profiles though, could this be a reason? Is there anything of the above steps that write into the user profile rather than HKLM (i.e. the ‘Default Programs’ bit)? Thanks.

    • You still need to use the dism part, this should solve your issue. Its not to do with non-persistent vs persistent, you need to tell windows to always use this file and embed your file type associations. Basically when you change user file type associations in Server 2016 they are stored with the user with a special hash value that’s automatically generated. When you are editing your file associations you are not editing the machine settings.

      Correct on the app side of things too.

  • Hi Leee,

    I read your article, a good one!, and I have the following problem, maybe you can help me out:

    I only see .tif and .tiff when I “Choose defaults for this program”.
    There is no entry available for .bmp, png, jpg, etc..

    Could you maybe share your XML-export including “every possible” image fileacc?


    I thought of modifying the xml-export by copying the line, but they look like this:

    I’m not sure what to add for “ProgId”.

    When looking for instructions i stumbled across this reg-imports but they will only to the job for jpg/jpe/jpeg, leaving bmp, png, … without fileacc.


    And I want to add a question:
    By setting the fileacc via GPO: Can users still change their own settings and will these setting be user-persistant or reset with every logoff/logon?

    Thanks in advance

  • Just Thanks a lot for this

  • Hi!

    This works fine.

    BUT.. Under the File menu “Copy” and “Make a Copy…” are greyed (inactive) out.

    This is only when accessing files\pictures som a network drive\share. When opening a local file they are enabled.

    Any suggestion to fix this?


  • Hi Lee,

    Is this also working for Server 2019?

  • So in regards to my previous comment about solving the Outlook picture attachment open with issue, I said that all you needed to do was delete the users profile from the TS server and have them log in again. That is not a reliable solution and we started to have issues again. We are now deleting the registry key OpenWithList under the hive Hkey_Current_User and we delete it using the user group policy\preferences\Windows Settings\Registry with action delete. This is the path that we delete Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\.jpg\OpenWithList. (we do this for both .jpg and .jpeg. What this does is removes the default that Windows places in that registry entry and replaces it with what the user wants when they set the default viewer and then open Outlook. Let me know if you have any questions about this method and I will elaborate on how I achieved this solution.

  • You can use reg file to set up in Windows 2019 (verified) 🙂
    before tried to set up by windows GUI – cannot , always Paint 🙁

  • Amaze balls. It worked in Server 2019 v1809 as per the above.
    Screens, of course, are different.
    Couldn’t even find the photo viewer within the dumb menus on the server.

    Just only did the registry zip thingy above, selected the default program to use, and away it went. Worked.

    TO Microsoft. For hecks sake, just go back to (optional) XP and Win 7 GUI layout to sit in front of the current windows engine core, and just be done with it.
    Stop changing stuff.

  • Hi all,
    Thanks for sharing but after reading all this, I finally decide to install HoneyView (a light and smart viewer) and the old but good Microsoft Picture Manager (from the Sharepoint Designer 2010 setup file).

    The two will do the job. Not sure it worths breaking my head for this kind of tools if Microsoft make simple thinks complex !

  • This worked terrifically on a Windows 2016 RDS server. Thanks so much!

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