How to View RAW Files on Windows 11/10/8/7 (Solutions & Recommendations)

Last Updated on March 29, 2023 by Peter Wood


Before viewing RAW files on Windows, it is important to know why you should shoot photos in RAW file format and what is special about the RAW file format. Besides the RAW file formats, there is a new HEIC file format for digital cameras and devices.

What is RAW in photography?

If you want to capture all image data recorded by the camera sensor, you can save it in the RAW file format. Each camera manufacturer provides a specific RAW file extension. For instance, you can get RAW files from Adobe DNG, Canon CR2 and CRW, Panasonic RW2, Fuji RAF, Sony ARW, and more.

Why should you shoot in RAW?

A RAW file is not compressed, altered, processed, or manipulated. Thus, you can get the best image quality and most customizable controls from the RAW format. Moreover, you can have better editing with the RAW file format.

Now you can get the detailed steps to open and view camera RAW files on Windows 11/10/8/7.

How to View RAW Files on Windows

Part 1: The Easy Method to View RAW Photos on Windows 11/10/8/7

WidsMob Viewer Pro is more than a versatile RAW image viewer for Windows. It enables you to browse most RAW file formats, HEIC/HEIF photos, AVIF, WebP, PDF, and video formats. There are different viewing modes, such as browsing the photos in the thumbnails, checking the EXIF information, playing RAW photos automatically in a slideshow, and managing all files in a full-screen mode. Besides, you can simply click any image to browse all the media files, including the PDFs within the same folder.

1. Support most of the RAW format, Sony, Nikon, Canon, HEIC, DNG, etc.

2. Hardware acceleration to view the RAW photos within 6x fast speed.

3. Basic RAW editing features to convert, apply effects and rename files.

4. Load one RAW image into the program to view all the photos of the SD.

Win Download Mac Download

Download and install WidsMob Viewer Pro, and launch the program on your Windows 10/11. If you need to view RAW from an SD card, insert it into your computer beforehand. Click any file within the SD card, you can view all RAW files, videos, and other files within the SD card on your Windows accordingly.

Thumbnail Mode

It enables you to browse different file formats, including RAW, HEIC, WebP, AVIF, MP4, PDF, and other file formats in thumbnails with the same folder. Just switch to another folder to check the supported file formats.

Besides the basic browsing features, you can select the desired file and press Ctrl + C to copy the photo. Select two images and click the Compare button to preview the differences between the two images. Moreover, you can also go to the slideshow mode to open RAW files within the same folder automatically.

Compare Photos Thumbnail Viewer Pro

Full Screen Mode

If you want to view the detail of your RAW files, you can double-click the file to get into full screen mode. It enables you to zoom in/out to view the details of the RAW files. Scroll down to the bottom, you can navigate to open RAW files on Windows in another folder.

Just click the I icon in the bottom right corner to check the metadata of the RAW files on your Windows. Click the Move to Trash button, you can delete the unwanted photos. It provides the feature to crop the desired part as well. Right click the image, you can explore more features, such as rotate, flip, show in explorer, etc.

Open Sony RAW Full Screen Viewer Pro

Slideshow Mode

When you need to open RAW files within the same folder automatically, you can also click the Slideshow button within the Thumbnail mode. It will open the images, videos, and PDFs on a full screen, which will play them automatically. Moreover, you can use the arrow to switch to another one with the control bar.

It also provides the Index Sheet button to locate the desired photo within the same folder easily. There is a feature that enables you to open the RAW files with the Fit to Screen option. It is a convenient method to view the files with the original size.

Open RAW in Slideshow Viewer Pro

EXIF Mode

As mentioned previously, the RAW viewer for Windows can keep all information of your photos. To view the photo information, click the View menu and choose the Information button on the top menu bar to display the metadata. Of course, you can also click the I icon in the full screen mode to check the information.

It enables you to check the File name, file size, file creation, maker, camera model, exposure time, F number, ISO, Flash, Focal length, and other information. The new version will enable you to resize the related tags and information soon.

View Image Metadata Viewer Pro

Edit RAW Images on Windows

To remove unwanted areas on a RAW image, select the file and click the Edit menu. After that, you can select the Crop button to get the cropping tool to remove the unwanted part. It provides the Copy button to copy the selected file. Moreover, it also enables you to rotate and flip photos easily.

Convert RAW Images on Windows

When you need to convert a RAW image to another file format on Windows, you can simply click the File menu and choose the Save As button. It enables you to convert RAW images to JPEG, PNG, and BMP.

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Part 2: The Default Method to View RAW Files on Windows 7/8/10/11

Most image viewers display embedded JPEG only with the JPEG-based histogram. You may fail to view RAW images with color space mismatch, gamma mismatch, RAW data mosaicked, interpretation, and many other problems. Windows does not natively support all RAW file formats. However, you can download a RAW image extension for Windows that will enable Windows to display thumbnails and open RAW image files in Windows Photo Viewer and other applications. Here's how to download and install the RAW image extension:

Section 1: Download RAW Image Extension

Microsoft released the RAW image file extension for previewing thumbnails and metadata of RAW files on Windows 10 several months ago. To view RAW files on Windows 8 and Windows 7, you can also refer to the following download links.

RAW Image Extension for Windows 10 free download

URL: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/raw-image-extension/9nctdw2w1bh8?activetab=pivot:overviewtab

System requirement: Windows 10 May 2019 Update version

RAW Image Extension for Windows 8 free download

URL: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=34871

System Requirement: Windows 8 with x64-based system

RAW Image Extension for Windows 7 free download

URL: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=26829

System Requirement: Windows 7, Windows Vista Service Pack 2

After that, you can click the Get button or the Install button to download and install the extension. Once the extension is installed, you should be able to view RAW image files in Windows Photo Viewer and other applications that support the Windows Imaging Component (WIC) architecture.

Note: Not all RAW image file formats are supported by the RAW image extension, so you may still need to use specialized software to open some RAW files. Additionally, the RAW image extension is only compatible with Windows 10 or later versions of Windows.

Section 2: How to Open and View RAW Files on Windows

By installing the Microsoft camera code pack, you can open and preview RAW files on Windows directly. Considering most people have upgraded to Windows 10 already, this article will show you how to view RAW files on Windows 10. You can get similar steps to open RAW files on Windows 8/7 as well.

Step 1: Visit the Microsoft RAW Image Extension page.

Step 2: Click Get to download free codecs for Windows 10 RAW viewing.

Step 3: Double-click on the codec pack file to install it into your computer.

Step 4: Double-click on a RAW file. You can view RAW image files without third-party software.

Microsoft Camera Codec Pack Win Download Mac Download

Part 3: How to Fix RAW Images Not Opening on Windows 10/11

The Windows 10 RAW image extension in Microsoft Store is with 3.0 only. There are 34% of users who have previewing RAW images and thumbnails problems on Windows 10. You can see all kinds of failures of the Microsoft RAW image extension.

For instance, there will be a purple hue while opening RAW on Windows 10. Many RAW image cameras are not fully compatible, including Canon EOS 77D, Nikon D850, etc.

What can you do to fix the RAW image extension not working? Here’re some tips.

  • Update to the latest version of Windows 10, which is version 1903.
  • Download and install the RAW codec software from the camera manufacturer’s website.
  • Use Windows Photo Viewer to open and view RAW files on Windows.
  • View camera RAW files with third-party RAW viewer software.

You may still fail to open some RAW files on Windows after installing the Microsoft Windows RAW image extension, such as NEF, ORF as Microsoft has stopped updating the codec pack. To view all RAW files on Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP, you need to install free RAW codecs from other sites or install RAW viewer software on Windows.

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Part 4: Top 3 RAW Viewers to Open RAW Image Files on Windows

If you want to try something new, you can get the best way to preview RAW files from the following recommendations. You can get many RAW images previewing, editing, and organizing tools.

Top 1: FastRawViewer

FastRawViewer is what you see is what you get image viewer. You can open and render RAW files on Windows. The RAW image viewing software can cull RAW images. You can see the original RAW photos instead of previewing the JPEG.

FastRawViewer

Top 2: Faststone Image Viewer

Faststone image Viewer allows users to open not only graphic images but also camera RAW files. You can use FastStone Image Viewer to get RAW image viewing, management, comparison, and customization. The RAW image viewer freeware was updated on March 10th, 2020. So you can view RAW image files on Windows 10/8.x/7/Vista/XP freely.

Faststone Image Viewer Win Download Mac Download

Top 3: XnView

You can view and edit camera RAW images on Windows with XnView free image viewer. XnView offers both desktop and mobile versions. Thus, you can get the uncompressed image data of CR2 and RAW files captured by digital cameras on your phone or computer. If you use it for private, educational, and non-profit use only, XnView can be your RAW image viewer freeware.

XnView

Conclusion

When you need to view different RAW files on Windows 11/10/8/7, here is the ultimate guide you can follow. No matter which camera RAW format you want to view, you can get the perfect solution. There is no fixed way to open .raw files on your Windows computer. WidsMob Viewer Pro is the ultimate toolkit to browse photos in different file formats, including videos, photos, and PDFs.

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