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

Last Updated on November 29, 2021 by Peter Wood


Before viewing RAW files on Windows, you can look at the following two questions to know more about the RAW format.

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 the 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.

Now you can get the detailed steps to open and view camera RAW image files on your computer.

How to View RAW Files on Windows

Part 1: The Best Way to View RAW Photos on Windows 11/10/8/7

To view the RAW file on Windows, WidsMob Viewer Pro is a versatile RAW image viewer for Windows. It enables you to browse the photos in the thumbnail mode to check all the photos within a folder, full-screen mode to browse photos in detail, EXIF mode to check the shooting parameters for RAW images, and slideshow mode for playback RAW files and photos automatically.

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

Step 1: Download and install the RAW viewer for Windows, launch the program on your Mac. If you need to view RAW from an SD card, insert it into your computer beforehand. Just drag and drop one RAW image into the program. You can view all RAW files on Windows within the same folder.

Selected Photos Viewer Pro

Step 2: When you import the RAW into the program, you can view RAW files on your computer within various modes. Just learn more details about the viewing modes as below.

Thumbnail Mode

Once you click the album on the left side, you will enter the thumbnail mode and view thumbnails of RAW files on the right side. The slider at the bottom allows you to modify the thumbnail size.

View Media by Folder Viewer Pro

Full Screen Mode

If you want to view the detail of your RAW files, click the View menu on the top ribbon, and select the Enter Full Screen option. Then you can view RAW on Mac with all details.

Slideshow Mode

Another useful RAW viewing mode in the program is slideshow mode. It can release your hands while viewing RAW files on Windows. Click the View > Slideshow to start playing your images one by one automatically.

View Slideshow Mode Viewer Pro

HEIC Mode

As mentioned previously, the RAW viewer for Windows can keep all information of your photos. To view the photo information, you can click View -> Show Info on the top menu bar to display it.

Step 3: Viewing RAW files on Windows, you can use image editing tools to help you change your RAW files directly.

Crop RAW Image

To remove unwanted areas on a RAW image, select it and click Edit > Crop to get the cropping tool. Now, adjust the border to cover the subject you want to keep and remove other areas.

Photo Crop on Viewer

Batch Convert RAW Image

If a RAW file was captured in an incorrect orientation, open it and select Rotate Left or Rotate Right option in the Edit menu to correct it. Moreover, you can also rename, resize or convert the RAW files in a batch process.

Step 4: Finally, you can save or share your photos after viewing RAW on Windows. Click on the File > Save as to open the profile dialog. Set the output format, quality and click the Save button to export the RAW files.

Share Photo on Viewer Win Download Mac Download

Part 2: How to View RAW Files on Windows 7/8/10

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. If you want to open photos in the RAW extension on Windows, you can follow the steps below. It is the complete tutorial to view RAW files with Windows File Explorer on Windows.

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

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

Part 3: What to Do When You Unable to View RAW Images on Windows 11/10

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.

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

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

All in all, you can view RAW files on Windows 11/10/8/7 and earlier versions successfully here. 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. Just read and choose the one you like. If you have any other questions about RAW viewing, you can feel free to contact us.

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