Windows Server 2016 has a lot of things disabled out of the box as to improve responsiveness and reliability. One of those things is Windows Photo Viewer. In this quick tutorial, I'll show you how to enable it. Now as you read through this, you might be wondering if there is a way to enable the Photo Viewer with Windows add / remove features or some built-in utility like that, but as much as I searched, I could not find a way to do it from within Windows Server 2016. So this method uses a donor OS. And please, if anyone has a different way of doing this, kindly share your knowledge in a comment below.
1. Copy the Windows Photo Viewer from another PC
First copy the Windows Photo Viewer from a Windows 10 PC. I heard that it won't work if you copy it from a different OS, but I haven't tried it myself. So just to be safe, hop on a Windows 10 PC and copy both of these folders:
C:\Program Files\Windows Photo Viewer\
C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Photo Viewer\
After that, place them in the exact same directories on the Server 2016 PC. I've also had it happen that I found these folders already in a fresh install of Server 2016. So if you find these folders already there, just proceed to the next step.
2. Download the Registry Entries
Download and open the .reg files below. This will add the needed registry entries to your system's registry.
3. Enable thumbnail view
One last thing that you may want to do is enable thumbnails. All that is required to do that is, open Windows Explorer, go to File > Options > View and uncheck "Always show icons, never thumbnails" then hit OK.
That's it! Let me know if you had any problems in the comments below.
I was annoyed by not being able to open PNGs due to the extension not being specified in the registry entries, so I fixed it... All I had to do was open the PhotoViewer.jpeg.reg file with Notepad++ and find "jpeg" then replace it with "png". I think there were 34 instances of this, but then I saved it as PhotoViewer.png.reg and extracted it to the registry. Then I uploaded it here for all of you! I'm assuming the find and replace method will work for just about any image file type.