Windows Picture and Fax Viewer

Q: What is Microsoft Windows Picture and Fax Viewer? How can I get it? How can I get rid of it?

Windows Picture and Fax Viewer is part of the Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 operating systems. (It is replaced in Vista by Photo Gallery.) It is the default image viewer for these operating systems. So you don’t need to “get it”. But often, people prefer another image viewing program.

To “get rid of” Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, you need to change the program that is associated with the types of files you want to view. Common file types include JPG, GIF, PNG, and TIF files. In particular, fax documents are often stored in the TIF format. To change the program associated with a file type:

  1. Open Windows Explorer to any file folder, i. e., My Pictures.
  2. Find any file with the extension you want to change, i. e., JPG.
  3. Right-click on the filename, and select Open With …
  4. Select Choose Program at the bottom of the list that’s displayed. A dialogue box will appear.
  5. Click on the program you want to use to view that file type if it’s listed, or browse for it through the Program Files folder tree.
  6. Check the box labeled “Always use the selected program to open this kind of file”.
  7. Click OK

Do the same for any other file types you wish to view with a program other than Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. That can be rather tedious if you wish to change many file types. Most viewer programs ask, while being installed, if you want them to be the default viewers for all file types they support. That’s a good choice in most cases. Usually, you can also check and uncheck radio buttons next to individual file types, which is much easier than doing the procedure above one file type at a time.

If you ever want Windows Picture and Fax Viewer restored as your default viewer:

  1. Click Start, then Run
  2. In the Run box, type regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll
  3. Click OK, twice.

Windows Picture and Fax Viewer is good enough for viewing fax documents and pictures, but it has no editing features. Many users switch to more capable viewer/editor programs such as IRFranView, and soon forget they even have Windows Picture and Fax Viewer installed.

Do you have a question about faxing? Send me your fax question.