Fix Windows Photo Viewer Opens Multiple Windows When Multiple Files are Selected in Windows 10

You may be wondering why Windows Photo Viewer which previously opened images in a single window instance when multiple files were selected and previewed, is now opening up separate windows one for each image file selected. The Windows Photo Viewer multiple instances problem that’s seen usually in Windows 10, is not due to any design change and no functionality is broken. It’s a simple file type association setting and fixing it that can straighten things up.

Selecting multiple files in a folder, right-clicking and selecting preview should open a single Windows Photo Viewer window and the user can cycle through the chosen set of images using the arrow keys. This is the expected behavior, and that’s how Windows Photo Viewer worked in earlier OS.

You don’t have to read the next section if you’re not looking for an explanation for this problem, and head on straight to the "Solution" part down below.

Why does this happen?

Windows Photo Viewer is not registered with Default Programs by default in Windows 10. Users who tried out the steps in article How to Restore Missing Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 10, and used Default Programs to reset Windows Photo Viewer as the default, are not affected by this problem. On the other hand, if you didn’t bother using Default Programs but rather set the image file associations using the standard Open with… dialog to choose Windows Photo Viewer, this problem of multiple instances of Windows Photo Viewer is seen. What’s exactly the difference between the two methods?

For example, if using the Open with… dialog to set Windows Photo Viewer as the default, it sets "jpegfile" as the handler for .jpg file type, and the setting in the registry key [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT \ jpegfile \ shell \ open] is used to preview images. This registry key doesn’t define a DropTarget, and that’s why the Windows Photo Viewer opens multiple windows one for each image selected.

If you rather use Default Programs and reset Windows Photo Viewer as the default, the handler "PhotoViewer.FileAssoc.Jpeg" is set, so the setting at [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT \ PhotoViewer.FileAssoc.Jpeg \ shell \ open] is used. As you can see in the Registry Editor window, that the latter registry path has a DropTarget handler defined, pointing to Windows Photo Viewer CLSID {FFE2A43C-56B9-4bf5-9A79-CC6D4285608A}.

Solution

There are a couple of ways to fix this. Simply register Windows Photos Viewer with Default Programs as mentioned in Restore Missing Windows Photo Viewer in Windows 10, and use Default Programs > Set Default Programs to reset Windows Photo Viewer as the default. This is the easiest and preferred option, as it quickly fixes the setting for all image file types that the program can handle.

Alternate Fix: Instead, if you plan to edit the registry to fix this, open Regedit.exe and navigate to the following locations one by one and modify the settings as given below:

[Reg File to automate the following steps] Download wpv-fta-droptarget.zip, unzip and run the enclosed REG file.

Registry Key

Value Name
(REG_SZ)
Value data
HKCR\bmpfile\shell\open\DropTargetClsid{FFE2A43C-56B9-4bf5-9A79-CC6D4285608A}
HKCR\jpegfile\shell\open\DropTargetClsid{FFE2A43C-56B9-4bf5-9A79-CC6D4285608A}
HKCR\pngfile\shell\open\DropTargetClsid{FFE2A43C-56B9-4bf5-9A79-CC6D4285608A}
HKCR\giffile\shell\open\DropTargetClsid{FFE2A43C-56B9-4bf5-9A79-CC6D4285608A}

HKCR is the short for HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT.

If the DropTarget subkey doesn’t exist by default, you need to create one in each registry path mentioned. Windows Photo Viewer should now open only one instance even when multiple image files are selected for preview.  However, if you open an image file in Windows Photo Viewer, and then double-click another image file in a folder, it opens a new instance of Windows Photo Viewer. This is normal.

Although the problem (and the fix) is certainly not limited to Windows 10, I had to specially mention Windows 10 because this issue surfaces mostly after upgrading to Windows 10. Should the same problem occur in Windows 7 or 8, the above fixes can be used without any problems.

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.

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