A stopwatch superimposed over Windows 10's default desktop background.,
icon Stocker/Shutterstock.com, Microsoft

Windows 10’s Photos app is too slow. It was too sluggish the day Microsoft released Windows 10, and it still is. Follow our advice and your images will open three or four times as fast.

The Problem With Windows 10’s Photos App: It’s Slow!

The web is full of fixes for Windows 10’s Photos app. If Photos really does take 10, 20, or 30 seconds to open, you definitely have an unusual problem. You may want to reset the Photos app’s app data.

But most people, even when the Photos app is going as fast as it can, have a different problem. When you double-click an image in File Explorer, the Photos app just takes a little too long to open, possibly while also showing a black screen as it’s bringing up the image. For some images, you may see a blurry version of the image first before the Photos app loads a sharp version, which is the real image finally snapping into view.

You have a split second to wonder: Didn’t computers used to be faster than this? Why do images from the web load faster than images from my computer’s internal storage? Is all software doomed to get slower and slower over time?

There’s a better way. On our speedy desktop with a solid-state drive, our solution opened images three or four times as fast as Windows 10’s built-in Photos app.

Windows Photo Viewer showing a black screen while opening.
The familiar sight of the Windows Photo Viewer opening.

Get Another Image Viewer: We Suggest Irfanview

You can use a registry hack to get Windows 7’s classic Windows Photo Viewer back on Windows 10. However, we think you’re probably better off with another application.

We still love Irfanview. It’s a classic piece of Windows software that dates back to the ’90s, but it’s still in active development today.

Irfanview is small, fast, simple—and, of course, free. Install Irfanview, make it your default image viewer, and it will appear when you double-click image files like JPEGs, PNGs, and other file types in File Explorer.

Despite its small size—the 64-bit version of Irfanview is a slim 3.56 MB without any plug-ins—it’s also packed with useful features for converting, resizing, cropping, rotating, and marking up images.

Irfanview's About windows on Windows 10.

Yes, that’s our tip: Get Irfanview. There are certainly other image viewers out there and you can explore them if our pick isn’t to your liking—but we like Irfanview. If the sluggish Photos app has been dragging down your workflow, Irfanview will be a breath of fresh air.

Lots of things have changed in the past few decades of computing, but Irfanview is still great.

But why is the Windows Photos app so slow? Well, perhaps it’s slow because it’s a UWP app. Do you remember how slow the original version of Microsoft Edge was before Microsoft abandoned it and switched to Google’s Chromium project? UWP apps have never been all about speed.

RELATED: What You Need to Know About the New Microsoft Edge Browser

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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