3 Ways to View RAW Images and Thumbnails on Windows 10

Many digital camera users find that they cannot preview RAW image files on Windows computer, which makes it inconvenient to browse or edit RAW files. Saving captures in JPEG + RAW format is a workaround, but it will increase the burden of memory card space. What’s the perfect solution for viewing RAW images on Windows 10? In this tutorial, we are going to learn how to view RAW thumbnails with camera codecs and open RAW pictures with RAW viewer on Windows 10.

Tip: In case you lose precious RAW pictures by accident, try a photo recovery software to get them back as soon as possible.

View RAW Images and Thumbnails on Windows 10

Way 1. View RAW Files with Microsoft Camera Codec Pack on Windows 10

You may have found that Windows 10 allows users to preview thumbnails of some RAW images, like ARW, DNG and CR2, and open these RAW pictures with Photos app. As a matter of fact, Windows 10 is built-in with Microsoft camera codec pack, which automatically recognizes those device-specific file formats and allows users to preview RAW files in Windows Explorer without third-party apps.

View RAW Files with Microsoft Camera Codec Pack on Windows 10

With thumbnail preview, it would be super convenient to find or edit RAW image files with professional editing tools. Nevertheless, since Microsoft has stopped updating the codec pack, there are still plenty of RAW formats that Windows 10 doesn’t support, like NEF and ORF.

Tip: If you want to view RAW files on Windows 7 or Windows 8, please download Microsoft camera codec pack manually.

Way 2. View RAW Images on Windows 10 with Codec for Specific Camera

If Windows 10 doesn’t support the RAW image format of your camera, then it will only show the default image icons instead of thumbnails of your images. In this case, you need to install a specific codec for the RAW format or camera model, which will work like Microsoft camera codec pack and display thumbnails of the specific RAW file type.

Normally, you should be able to find the codec on manufacturer’s website, but there are also several useful third-party codec websites. Here we’re going to show how to install Nikon NEF codec to Windows 10 from such a codec site.

Now, your Windows 10 computer should show thumbnails of NEF images. In the meantime, you should be able to open NEF photos with Photos app. Just search for more codecs if you have another kind of RAW pictures that Windows 10 doesn’t support. Camera model info might help you find codec quickly. Please include it into searching keywords.

Way 3. Open RAW Photos with RAW Image Viewer on Windows 10

If installing various of codecs hassles you, you can use RAW image viewer which usually support most RAW formats. For example, ACDSee is one of the most famous RAW image viewer software.

Open RAW Photos with RAW Image Viewer on Windows 10

Premium RAW image viewers may charge you for using advanced functions, but usually less expensive than Lightroom. Another drawback is that there is no thumbnail of the device-specific RAW images in Windows Explorer, which means quick preview is not available. Instead, users need to open the RAW viewer to check all RAW images in the same folder and manage them as you like. Overall, it is still a great choice if you don’t need another professional editor program.



If you’re stick with the digital camera of one brand, it is a good choice to use the official image viewer and editor from the manufacturer, which usually supports RAW viewing, editing and even conversion to other formats.

Final Words

There are many more ways to view and open RAW images, but the above three methods should work in most cases in a Windows 10 computer. If you have more and better choices, don’t hesitate to share them with us in the comment so that more people will benefit from it.

By Jihosoft
Last updated on

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