Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Many people prefer alternatives to Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. Others prefer it. Here's how to reset it to be the default image viewer.

A very common question most folks have shortly after installing Windows XP is How do I make something other than "Picture and FAX Viewer" the default for viewing pictures?.

The other day I got a couple of variations on the reverse:

What is the file name and extension for Windows picture and fax viewer? I want to use it for an OLE object to view pictures.


How do I change my default image viewer back to the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer?

Turns out it's easier to get rid of than it is to restore. But not impossible.

It took a little spelunking using Process Explorer to determine the command line that is used when Windows Picture and Fax Viewer is invoked. Turns out that it's not a stand-alone exe at all.

The command to run Windows Picture and Fax viewer is:

rundll32.exe C:\WINDOWS\System32\shimgvw.dll,ImageView_Fullscreen path-to-picture

So, to answer the first question: shimgvw.dll probably exposes the objects needed to use Windows Picture and Fax Viewer as an OLE object.

As for the second, restoring Windows Picture and Fax Viewer as the viewer for images:

  • Note what file extension you want to change the default for. That's the ".jpg", ".gif", and so on at the end of the filename. It indicates the type of picture, and more importantly, it's what Windows uses to decide what program to use to display it.
  • Open up Windows Explorer. (The Windows Key + E, on many keyboards.)
  • Find any file with that same extension.
  • Right-click on the filename, and select Open With ....
  • Select Choose Program at the bottom of the list that's displayed.
  • In the resulting dialog box, "Windows Picture and Fax Viewer" should already be listed. Click on it.
  • Check the box labeled "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file".
  • Press OK

If for some reason it's not already in the list, you can force the association by following these steps, still in Windows Explorer:

  • On the Tools menu, click Folder Options...
  • Click on the File Types tab.
  • Scroll down to the extension you care about, for example "JPG".
  • Press the Restore button, if it exists.
  • Press the Advanced button.
  • Click on the Open action.
  • Click on Edit...
  • In the Application used to perform action: enter C:\WINDOWS\system32\rundll32.exe C:\WINDOWS\System32\shimgvw.dll,ImageView_Fullscreen %1. Where "C:\WINDOWS" is the directory containing your Windows installation.
  • Press OK

You'll want to repeat that for every extension (GIF, JPG, JPEG, etc.) for which you want to change the behavior.

Update: Another approach to re-installing Windows Picture and Fax Viewer is to click on Start, Run... and type in:

regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll

and press OK. Then press OK again on the resulting success message. (Thanks to comment poster Leon for this suggestion.)

Article C2336 - April 20, 2005 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

May 27, 2005 12:46 PM

I read your instructions, but in IE the viewer is Apple's Quick Time, I want to change the viewer to use Windows Picture and Fax Viwewer (WPFV)when I open a tif file.

I disabled the tif association in IE and used the file association in tools under folder options, file types to associate tif to WPFV but it would not work correctly in IE. What steps are necessary to reassociate WPFV in Internet Explorer?

Alan Dobkin
June 4, 2005 12:04 PM

This is one of those areas in Windows where it is much easier to use the command-line than the GUI (Explorer). There are two commands that control all file associations, ASSOC and FTYPE. To restore the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer simply type the following command (using JPEG as an example):

ASSOC .jpg=jpegfile

That's it, just a single command! No opening multiple windows and clicking buttons. This is assuming that no other application modified the "jpegfile" file type. To check that, simply issue this command:

FTYPE jpegfile

It should show up like this:

jpegfile=rundll32.exe C:\WINDOWS\System32\shimgvw.dll,ImageView_Fullscreen %1

If it has been modified to run some other application, then you can restore it simply by issuing the command FTYPE with that full line above after it, as in:

FTYPE jpegfile=rundll32.exe C:\WINDOWS\System32\shimgvw.dll,ImageView_Fullscreen %1

For more technical details, use these two commands:



Massey Ferguson
June 22, 2005 7:55 PM


Interesting stuff. However, didn't solve my problem; to wit: getting Windows Picture and Fax Viewer to function in WIN 2K Pro.

search for: shimgvw.dll and found two instances:

What I need is the procedure for enabling the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer....

At the present time, it is not even one of the choices when using 'Open With' ... on a JPG or GIF file ...

WinExplorer - Tools/Folder Options/File Types

-select Registered File Type : JPG
-select Advanced
-select Edit
Entered: C:\WINDOWS\system32\rundll32.exe C:\WINDOWS\System32\shimgvw.dll,ImageView_Fullscreen %1
(as per your post) in the 'Application used to perform action:' textbox ... [Action: Open]

(Use DDE not selected)\

Click Ok and then OK to close Edit File Type..and then click Close to close out the Folder Options form.

Next tried double left-click to open a standard JPG picture. RUNDLL Error msg displayed:

'Error in C:\WINDOWS\System32\shimgvw.dll
Missing entry:ImageView_Fullscreen'

Next tried right click and 'Open With' and selected 'Shell Image View Control'

Got same RUNDLL error msg ... and an error msg related to the JPG picture ...

'Cannot find the file 'C:\My Documents\My Pictures\Cliff in Clouds.jpg' (or one of its components). Make sure the path
and filename are correct and that all required libraries are available.'

So.... we've hit the proverbial Brick Wall ...
All advice appreciated.


July 29, 2005 1:01 AM

Finally...I've been looking for this page forever...(about 6 months).

I want windows picture and fax viewer. but for some reason it stopped working about a year ago...I started using HP Image Zone Express as a stand-in, but it doesn't find the files like I need...

Here's whats happening on my XP Pro machine:
Start - My Pictures: I see the file names and "Icons" but the Icons are not the normal thumbnail pictures, but just a "Picture" Icon (the red sky with the sailboat). some of the older folders of pictures that I had have the file icon with the mini-thumbnails inside, but when I open the file, just picture icons again, no thumbnails. I miss the thumbnails. Double-click a picture, I get an error that the pic (any of them) is not a valid WIN32 application. I right-click and choose to open with Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, and I get nothing. WPFV is listed, but it will not open. I can't even find WPFV on my computer...

so what I need is the WPFV install file...I can find lots of remove files, and things about it...but I can't find the file itself. any help?

btw Leo - I own a small Coffee Shop, if you help me out, I'll buy you a Viente Caramel Macciatto Triple-Shot.

thanks! Sockhatguy (

July 30, 2005 4:42 PM

Well, as outlined in the article WPFV is not an application, and you won't find it on your computer. For reasons unknown it's a hidden function in a DLL. Try following the instructions in the article to reassociate it properly with pictures and see if that doesn't help.

Pat Brown
August 21, 2005 6:35 AM

I have tried your instructions to restore Windows Picture and Fax Viewer and everything works except I do not get to a dialog box that gives me the option to check "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file". It jumps over that step (the critical step) and opens the picture. How do I get this all-important box to appear? (You probably don't need to have this info but---I recently downloaded Photoshop Elements 3.0. and it "hi-jacked" my Windows default and I'm trying to get back to Windows as my default.

Pat Brown
August 21, 2005 8:28 AM

Sorry--me again. Photoshop Elements hijacking my default setting to open my pictures (JPG files). I just discovered Folder Options and it does give me the opportunity to check "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file." But when I select JPG files and select to open it with Windows and to always use this program to open these files, the icon changes from Photoshop Elements...but the actual JPG files still have the Elements icon and still open with Elements. I have even rebooted. The folders options still show JPG files as opening with Windows but the JPG files still open with Elements.

September 20, 2005 11:26 PM

i'm looking for the mini-thumbnails, too, and hate that red sky sailboat crap.

on my system i do get the wpfv to open jpg file with a double click and i can get the edit link to edit with photoshop - it's only those little thumbnails that i miss - more so as i used to dig them plenty when inserting photos onto outlook's notes field. now that my default editor is photoshop i see photoshop icon instead.

i'll much appreciate pointers if there is any...

September 22, 2005 10:03 AM

to change the icon back go to file types select JPG click "advanced" click "Change Icon" and enter in "C:\WINNT\System32\shimgvw.dll" or "C:\WINDOWS\System32\shimgvw.dll" and click ok and the sunset sailboat icon should come up

October 15, 2005 4:34 PM

New to this post, but hoping so many experts out there can help me out. I've a new computer, clean install of Windows XP Media edition & enjoy using the Windows Picture & Fax Viewer. Now, out of the blue, I get a DEP (Data Execution Protection) Fault/Error & windows automatically closes Windows Picture & Fax viewer. Help about DEP errors (which I've never seen before) talk about it trying to stop non-recognized progams from running code in protected Memory locations. Well, I would think that WINDOWS XP should recognize WINDOWS Pic & Fax Viewer... Anyway, I have a similarly configured laptop & it has no troubles. Any ideas (I cannot use the Windows recommended solution to "exclude" a program from DEP checks because as has been pointed out in these posts, it's not really a program, but a DLL. Thanks.

Walter Wego
October 15, 2005 4:39 PM

Sounds like something's hurt. I'd run the system file checker:

October 22, 2005 1:31 PM

how do i re install Windows picture and fax viewer
fault in system32\shimgvw.dll
cant view ant pictures
can you help

October 22, 2005 8:30 PM

I start with the system file checker:

Peter Sands
November 16, 2005 2:28 PM

I installed Scan Soft's OmniPage SE (OCR program) that came with my scanner. After that all my image files, e.g. jpg-files, were captured by this program. I've restored the association of jpg with Windows Picture and Fax Viewer and they now open with that by default.

BUT: the properties displayed by right clicking on the file name in Explorer, and their icon, remain those of OmniPage. How do I fully restore these? The "Restore" button restores the association with OmniPage!


December 21, 2005 1:37 PM

Cool, but I was wondering if you knew where I could download the program from?

Leo A. Notenboom
December 21, 2005 1:43 PM

"the program" - which program? Pix and Fax viewer is a part of windows. See the article.

December 21, 2005 1:45 PM

Sorry, Windows Pic and Fax viewer. I guess it can't be downloaded then?

Leo A. Notenboom
December 21, 2005 2:04 PM

That's correct. If you have WIndows, you already have it.

December 29, 2005 6:05 AM

Does this mean that if shimgvw.dll is NOT my default
image viewer, then I am not vulnerable to the windows exploit report in the Washington Post
December 29th 2005?

December 30, 2005 8:39 PM

NO it does NOT mean that. The code that is exploited is used by many applications in addition to Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. Keep your eyes out for a patch from Microsoft.

December 31, 2005 2:47 PM

If you still have Preview as an option when you right-click. You can make Preview the default option once again through the registry editor.

The following in a .reg file will set jpegfile, giffile, and png file to default to Preview. You can also just find the entry in RegEdit and change the default value for that key yourself.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00




January 1, 2006 6:51 PM

I had the same problem with windows picture and fax viewer being unistalled. To reinstall it just go to start, run and type in(or copy and paste):
regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll
,then press ok and press ok again when window comes up.

peter van noort
January 7, 2006 3:15 PM

Thanks for all the help... I lost WPFV after having trouble with some mallware/spyware etc...

I deleted that using Ad-Aware, Spybot search and destroy and spysweeper and finally Norton Anti virus to get rid of all the shit. (sorry for that word)...

After deleting the spyware i found out that WPFV was no longer working...
I did find this website and also the answer to my problem.

What did i do to change it back to the way it was:

go to start > run > regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll
then press ok and press ok again when window comes up.
So reinstalling shimgvw.dll did the thing for me.

Leo they should give you a medal for this website. THANKS !!!

Pamela Smith
January 9, 2006 10:41 AM

I have tried all the above, when I run regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll I get load library("shimgvw.dll") failed-acess denied

Pamela Smith
January 9, 2006 10:48 AM

When I try to open with windows fax I get error loading C:windows\system32\shimvw.dll access is denied

January 9, 2006 6:46 PM

For those getting access denied: are you logged in as an administrator?

January 12, 2006 6:24 PM

Ok, so I have figured out that Windows Picture and Fax Viewer isn't a stand-alone, but when I try to run (start, run) the path from above rundll32.exe C:\WINDOWS\System32\shimgvw.dll,ImageView_Fullscreen path-to-picture nothing happens? I can successfully open pictures with the application ("open with") but I would like to use the application to create a slide show. I can do this in PowerPoint, but I would like to send it out without having to have people start the show themselves and thought the Viewer would be better for this.

January 17, 2006 1:14 PM

I have tried all of your suggestions and am signed in as the administrator, but get the following message when I try to run, regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll; Load library ("shimgvw.dll")failed-The specified module could not be found. I look forward to any suggestions you may have. Thanks.

January 17, 2006 1:19 PM

I have tried all of your suggestions for fixing, WPFV, but to no avail. When I try to load: regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll, I get the following message: Load library ("shimgvw.dll") failed - The specificed module could not be found. I hope you have some additional suggestions. I'm using XP, SP1 and SP2. Thanks.

January 17, 2006 7:43 PM

Pauhana - I's give the system file checker a shot:

January 19, 2006 8:30 AM

Follow up to your suggestion, ran file checker and did not get any messages. Still get the same message when I try to load: regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll, e.g.: Load library ("shimgvw.dll") failed - The specificed module could not be found.

Perhaps time to just use another package like XnView. Thanks for your suggestions and do appreciate what you're doing.

January 23, 2006 10:28 PM

After installing SP2 for XP Home, Picture and Fax Viewer stopped working. I followed your instructions (much clearer than Microsoft's at but got the error message: "C:\WINDOWS\system32\shimgvw.dll" is not an executable file and no registration helper is registered for this file type.
So, I located the file in C:\WINDOWS\system32\, renamed it "old_shimgvw.dll" (just in case!) and moved it to another folder.
I then downloaded a new copy of the file from (full url - the C:\WINDOWS\system32\ folder.
After that, I ran the command "regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll" as you suggested, and ... SUCCESS!

January 24, 2006 3:47 PM

I had an issue where the WPandFV wouldn't load, wouldn't preview anything... and the solution was clicking on Start, then on run and typing this in.

regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll

then click ok when the box comes up, and it should work.

January 25, 2006 1:52 AM

I wanted to find out how to run the Picture Viewer from the command line so I can autorun it from a DVD containing photos, and you've given me the answer - top hit on Google!

Since the System32 directory is on the Path, it's better not to put "C:\WINDOWS\System32\" on the command line in case it's the wrong location.

Thanks for the tip.

January 25, 2006 2:35 AM

I can open QuickTime from vba code:
str = ("C:\ProgramFiles QuickTime\PictureViewer.exe")
str = str & " "
str = str & strFileName)
Shell str, vbNormalFocus

How do I the same with Windows Picture and Fax Viewer?

January 25, 2006 8:17 AM

Use the rundll command line outlined in the article you just commented on.

January 31, 2006 2:35 PM

I have WPFV on my WinXP machine and love it. Trying to get it enabled on a Win2K machine but have not been successful.

When I Go to Start/Run and type: regsvr32 shimgvw.dll, the RegSvr32 dialog box shows with the message: DllRegisterServer in shimgvw.dll succeeded. I clicked OK.

I then add "rundll32.exe C:\WINDOWS\system32\shimgvw.dll,ImageView_Fullscreen %1" to the File Open properties for JPG.

However, when I try to open a JPG, I get two error messages.

First Error: RUNDLL - Error loading C:\WINDOWS\system32\shimgvw.dll. This is odd since my shimgvw.dll is located in C:\WINNT\system32

Second Error: Cannot find the file ....(location of the file)...(or one of its components). Make sure the path and filename are correct and that all required libraries are available.

When I then try to Go to Start/Run and type: regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll, I get a RegSvr32 message "shimgvw.dll was loaded, but the DllInstall entry point was not found."

Can WPFW work in Windows 2K? Someone else asked this but no one responded. If YES, how can I get it to work?


January 31, 2006 10:32 PM

Well, it looks like you told it one thing (WINDOWS) when it was really somewhere else (WINNT). Make sure that you're specifying the same, and correct, directory in all cases.

February 1, 2006 7:58 AM

Hi Leo,
After I posted my message, I realized that the open command path was different so I did change it to "rundll32.exe C:\WINNT\system32\shimgvw.dll,ImageView_Fullscreen %1". However, when I tried to open a JPG file, this time, I got a RUNDLL error message "Error in C:\WINNT\system32\shimgvw.dll Missing entry:ImageViewer_Fullscreen"

Thinking that my Win2K shimgvw.dll were outdated, I even copied that dll from my WinXP machine. When that didn't work, I even followed the instructions posted by Paul on January 23, 2006 10:28 PM to downloaded a new copy of the file from (full url - and reran the command "regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll" and unlike him, I get the same error registering the dll I reported previously. It seemed successful when I ran the "regsvr32 shimgvw.dll" command but I still get an error opening JPG files.

Any more suggestions on what I can do to get WPFV to work on my Win2K machine?

February 7, 2006 7:21 AM

Hi Leo
I'm interested to know more about windows picture and fax viewer; as, not being a computer specialist, and not having an enormous amount of time, (I've already spent all day on it); I'd like to know why it is that picture and fax viewer (pfv), although being a great tool, is so difficult to understand. I notice that sometimes when I open pictures there are left over pictures from previous visits (which can be compromising!). I'd like to be able to manage this tool, but I can't find it. I've installed pfv on my desktop now, but it doesn't handle like other program,such as paint; in fact I can't find it in my programs, although it's there!
Is there a simple explanation for this.


February 7, 2006 10:39 AM

Simple explanation? No. Personally I find Windows Picture and Fax Viewer more annoying and counter-intuitive than helpful. Hence one of the many things I do when I set up a new computer is to install and use a different program entirely. This article discusses that:

Paul Roberts
February 15, 2006 8:54 PM

I had the same problem as a few previous posts on my Win 2K machine - reloading the shimgvw as suggested did not work.

While investigating, I found that my preview in explorer was not working for .jpg files but did work for .jpeg files.

After some more investigation, I found the answer on the following website:

It seems somewhere along the way my registry for the preview settings has got out of whack.

The website included a .reg file ( that when run fixed up the registry for ShellExt and made my previews work again.

Hope this helps.

March 2, 2006 4:50 PM

Update: Another approach to re-installing Windows Picture and Fax Viewer is to click on Start, Run... and type in:

regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll
and press OK. Then press OK again on the resulting success message. (Thanks to comment poster Leon for this suggestion.)


March 3, 2006 11:16 AM

Hi Leo,

This info is super!
I need to ask you though, where you explain how to "force the association", in point 8, you give to paths to enter, how's that? am I to enter both paths? or only one? I didn't know we could enter 2 paths... I'm clearly confused.
Thanks in advance for enlighten me :)


March 3, 2006 11:18 AM

Correcting myself:

Wrong: "you give to paths to enter"

Good: "you give two paths to enter"


March 3, 2006 11:41 AM

That's one long line

...rundll32.exe ...shimgvw.dll,Image... %1

May 14, 2006 3:41 AM

I need to download windows picture and fax /xp for free

May 14, 2006 9:10 AM

There is no download, it's part of Windows XP.

Daniel Griffin
May 29, 2006 5:31 AM

Windows picture and fax viewer no longer opens image files of any kind. The files open in paint but I want to use the windows program. How do I fix this?

May 29, 2006 7:32 AM

I'm having the same problem Danieal. When I double click a picture file all I get is 'no preview available' in Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. Everything opens fine in photoshop, paint, explorer etc...

In the active title bar for the window, it either shows up blank, or says 00000 as the file name.

May 29, 2006 7:54 AM

first off, sorry I spelled your name wrong.

Do this... Start --> Run, Paste this in..

regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll

Click Okay, then okay again, it should work.

Sir Reginald Poopsquish III
June 18, 2006 11:15 PM

I didn't have time to read all 192 comments, but I thought some of those who posted ones I did read would be helped by this page:,aid,119993,00.asp
["...choose New,Shortcut. In the Create Shortcut wizard, type rundll32.exe %SystemRoot%\system32\shimgvw.dll,ImageView_Fullscreen (don't forget to include the space after "rundll32.exe"..."]

September 12, 2006 7:47 AM

My scanner program can link to a program, but you need to show it a *.exe. I'd like to use Windows Picture and fax viewer, what should I do?

September 14, 2006 8:37 PM

Eric, try pointing it to explorer.exe (or c:\windows\explorer.exe). If the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer is the default for the image type that your scanner is using, it should work.

September 22, 2006 3:23 PM

Most of this article didn't apply to my situation however I noticed one person's comment that did match: How to restore the Preview (not Open) association to Windows Picture and Fax Viewer (for me, Photoshop's Image Ready hijacked this menu item).

In Folder Options - File Types, go to the extension (in my case PNG), the button near the bottom-right probably says "Restore" instead of "Advanced". Click on Restore. It will change to Advance. Then click on Advance. I was able to remove Image Ready references. I restored Preview by changing the program used to...

C:\WINDOWS\system32\rundll32.exe C:\WINDOWS\System32\shimgvw.dll,ImageView_Fullscreen %1

...and change the accelerator key back to "v" by typeing "pre&view" for the name of the action.

Then fix the default program used to open the file (it got changed when first clicking on the Restore button) back to the default (in my case Corel PhotoPaint).

I hope this helps. Trying to explain procedure in the shortest space possible.

October 4, 2006 5:04 PM

No response necessary. Thanks very much.

I just wanted to let you know how your work has benefited some kids. It let me help out some sixth and eighth graders at a school in South Carolina who are taking my Pearls of Perl course and wanted to know how to get their Perl program to display pictures.

(I couldn't find a simple Perl module that they could install to display pictures.)

I had searched through Microsoft Help for some time and tried guessing the process name from the task manager display as well as looking through the Windows directory for the name of an exe.

I know now that it would have taken me a long time going that route.


October 24, 2006 5:12 PM

Hi, I was trying to do the same thing as several other people in this forum, add Windows picture and fax viewer to other OLE type objects as a default action after customising my right-click menus.

One thing I'd like to add is that if you encase the %1 in double quotes ("%1") then for some reason it fails to work. This is a usual habit of mine, since putting " " around %1 is usually good practice to handle spaces in filenames. However here it seems to break it. Not having the " " doesnít seem to be a problem... it handles spaces just fine without it.

Thanks Leo for this forum, it helped me realise what I was doing wrong with the syntax. I knew I was on the right track because it had worked for other people.

March 5, 2007 1:44 PM

Could not get WP&F viewer to default when opening .jpg or .jpeg from Juno email attachment.
Start, Run... and type in: regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll
Did the trick.
Thanks Much - Jed

March 16, 2007 11:41 PM

FABULOUS! A newbie to XP, some program or another hijacked all my graphics file associations early on in my computer setup. Here's what I did - on the "Advanced" tab for the file associations, I created a new "command" (preview), pasted in the above to the Application line, then set "preview" to default. Now, when I double click a graphics file it shows it to me with Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, but I can still right click and have it open with the graphics program of my choice.

Best of all, I changed the BMP extension first, and I think maybe the GIF extension, only to find with great pleasure that all the JPEG and TIFF extension variants automatically changed as well, with the "open" still set to whatever program that hijacked them (fine, as I'm still debating what to use for a graphics editor, and will fix when I've decided) but with my new "preview" command firmly in place using Windows Viewer and set as the default. I was so stunned I almost fell off my chair, this accommodating behaviour is most unlike Windows...

I think I'd better buy Leo a Latte!!!


Zap Coffey-Brittain
March 23, 2007 6:03 PM

Hi Leo

This one has got me stumped. Iíve been right through this article and my Windows Picture & Fax Viewer still isnít working. I can view images in other apps.

1) Viewing images as thumbnails or filmstrip displays nothing
2) Opening files in Windows Picture & Fax Viewer brings up error box:
> RUNDLL: Error loading C:\WINDOWS\System32\shimgvw.dll. The system cannot find the file specified

Iíve tried re-associating by all 3 of the methods listed in this article (via ďAlways open withĒ, via Folder Options & using Command Prompt) but no change.

Iíve tried replacing shimgvw.dll with a new downloaded copy (twice) then re-registering it with [run: regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll], but I get error box:
> RegSvr32: LoadLibrary(ďshimgvw.dllĒ) failed Ė The system cannot find the file specified.

Iíve run a registry fix from, which claimed to fix 1500 or so bad registry keys (failed associations etc), but didnít fix this.

Iíve run System File Checker [run: sfc /scannow] as suggested in the article but it didnít find anything.

Final note, from around the same time my WP&FV failed, Iíve also had ďThe application failed to initialize properly (0xc0000034)ÖĒ errors when trying to open some other applications. So far Iíve seen it on Windows Media Player, My Pictures Screensaver, and my broadband providerís in-house protection package NTL Netguard.

Iím hoping itís not a Trojan, but I canít see any suspicious processes running.


April 1, 2007 8:01 AM

I tried re-installing but when I try to run the command it shows the error the file not found, I tried the other way to but that did not work either, is it possible i have deleted the dll
kindly advise

Zap Coffey-Brittain
April 1, 2007 5:42 PM

To user Aman: You may be having the same problem as me - when trying to access Picture & Fax Viewer or reinstall the dll, I get "system cannot find the file specified", but it's visible in system32 directory as it should be.

Check C:\WINDOWS\system32 for shimgvw.dll. If it's not there, you'll need to get hold of the file again (Google "download shimgvw.dll") & copy it in, then you'll need to re-register the file by doing Start, Run, & it should be OK.

If shimgvw.dll is already in the system32 directory, despite what Windows error messages say, then you have the same problem as me and I'm still looking for the solution.

Leo, do you have any suggestion please why Windows would report file not found when it's clearly visible?

Zap Coffey-Brittain
April 1, 2007 5:49 PM

Sorry, further message because an item I'd put in arrow brackets was skipped. Second paragraph of above was supposed to have read:
Check C:\WINDOWS\system32 for shimgvw.dll. If it's not there, you'll need to get hold of the file again (Google "download shimgvw.dll") & copy it in, then you'll need to re-register the file by doing [Start, Run: regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll] & it should be OK.

April 3, 2007 3:07 PM

To Zap Coffey-Brittain

thanks! that helped solve my problem of a missing Windows Picture and Fax viewer, turns out I was missing the shimgvw.dll in my system32 folder. searched for it, downloaded it and placed it in the folder. lo and behold after start-run-regsvr32 /i shimgvw.dll, it reinstalled and my thumbnails came out. again, thanks!

May 14, 2007 2:30 PM

Create an icon for Windows Picture and Fax Viewer on your desktop or in a folder which appears on the desktop. Do this by creating a "dummy" icon by copying something else. Then change the properties so that the target is: rundll32.exe C:\WINDOWS\System32\shimgvw.dll,ImageView_Fullscreen

In Windows Explorer, go to the folder containing the pictures you want to view. Drag and drop one onto the new Win Pix/Fax Viewer icon. Then you will be able to use all its features on the pictures in the folder you selected.

August 8, 2007 9:04 PM

In vista the name of the program it is not PFV is different is windows photo gallery...

October 23, 2007 10:38 AM

anyone wanting to display gifs on vista... try downloading windows live photo gallery from

worked for me!!

December 27, 2007 3:03 PM

I was very happy with Windows Picture and Fax viewer with Windows XP. Now I have Vista, and it has been replaced with Windows Photo Gallery, which does not have the features I want. Is there any way to get back to the Pictures and Fax Viewer?

Leo A. Notenboom
December 29, 2007 6:46 PM

Hash: SHA1

Not that I'm aware of, it appears to be specific to Windows
XP or whatever version it might be running on.

My recommendation is actually to dump Windows Photo Gallery
(And Windows Picture and Fax Viewer) and get a tool like
IrfanView or FastStone Image


Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


January 11, 2008 12:12 PM

I liked the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer in XP, but now I've switched over to Vista Ultimate. The photo gallery program is not nearly as friendly. Is there a way to download in run the older Windows Picture and Fax Viewer program on Vista?

Leo A. Notenboom
January 13, 2008 11:25 AM

Hash: SHA1

That's this article:


Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


March 7, 2008 11:47 AM start-control panel. folder options. folder options-click file types click NEW. create new extention enter [TIF] infile extention box. then click ADVANCED. associated File Type drop down find TIF Image. OK.
7.find TIF Image in the list. OK
the above worked for me, and still doe's.
All the best Brian
7 Mar 2008

May 10, 2008 8:59 PM

When using the second method to restore the default viewer, you must add the quotations when typing in the program path or you get an error saying.....

"The specified program could not be found. Make sure the path and file name are correct."

In the Application used to perform action: enter
"C:\WINDOWS system32\rundll32.exe" "C:\WINDOWS\System32\shimgvw.dll,ImageView_Fullscreen" "%1"

July 9, 2008 9:29 AM

Download the mozilla add on that will launch an internet explorer tab in a mozilla session...then open the link with picture and fax viewer.

July 13, 2008 5:21 AM

Thanks for the info. You solved my version of the problem. My preferred default was MS Office Document imaging that I use to incorporate scanned images into powerpoint. My default with XP was reset by the widely reviled office 2007 upgrade. I was using right click open/with but was just double clicking to get my preference.
Not only was this an extra couple of steps, but I often forgot and double-clicked and got the wrong progam. MS Office Document Imaging allows you to select a portion of the image and edit/"copy image" to paste into a powerpoint slide. This is very useful in adapting powerpoint to replicate the blackboard / transparency / notes techniques for college classes (I'm an adjunct prof).

eric liu
August 25, 2008 12:17 PM

Importing this registry key will set picture and fax viewer as default for TIF and TIFF files.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00



@="TIF Image"




@="rundll32.exe C:\\WINDOWS\\system32\\shimgvw.dll,ImageView_Fullscreen %1"



@="rundll32.exe C:\\WINDOWS\\system32\\shimgvw.dll,ImageView_PrintTo /pt \"%1\" \"%2\" \"%3\" \"%4\""

Tobie Nortje
September 9, 2008 1:51 AM

Is there any way of getting Windows Picture and Fax Viewer to run on Vista?

Not that I'm aware of, and it's a common request. My recommendation is to switch to something like FastStone Image Viewer.

Alan Ruvelson
October 7, 2008 9:43 AM

Hi, Leo - My problem is different (but I feel related to this thread). Now, when I scan text, when I am getting an uneditable (apparently unconvertible)"photo" image. I want text that I can covert to Word with OCR. That is what happened in the past. I must have done something to change my settings. My operating system is XP and I have Word from Office 2003. Thank you for this help, Alan

Scanning to OCR is usually a two-step process: scan to an image and then run OCR software on that image. Unfortunately since I don't know how you were set up to do this in the first place when it worked for you, I don't know how to restore that functionality.
- Leo

November 3, 2008 11:03 AM
Closing comments here, since we have oodles, and they're mostly thank you's, or people that haven't read the article.
- Leo

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