- A Raw photo is a type of uncompressed image file format that's more like a digital negative.
- If you want to open Raw images on your Windows PC, but don't necessarily wish to install extra codecs or drivers, simply download Adobe Lightroom.
- Check out more alternatives for photo viewing and editing from our Photo Editors page.
- Get the best solutions to open any type of file extensions from our File Openers Hub.
A Raw photo is a type of uncompressed image file format that’s more like a digital negative. Raws are comparable to the negatives photographers can capture with film cameras, which aren’t directly usable images.
However, Raw images can still be processed into a viewable format on your laptop or desktop.
By default, digital cameras save images as JPEG. This is most likely because the JPEG file size is smaller than Raw. A single Raw image might take up 20 megabytes storage.
On the other hand, Raw photos are also much more detailed than JPEGs; and many digital cameras now enable users to save photographs in the Raw format.
Each camera model has its own Raw file format, such as ARI, CRW, PXN, RAF, RWZ, SRF, DNG, RWL, RW2 and KDC.
Consequently, you’ll need a codec or a driver that supports your camera to open Raw images in Windows or a specialized software that required no additional tools.
Want to know more about the constant improvement that Microsoft brings to Windows to help users view raw photos easily? Or perhaps you want to go all in with a photo editing tool? Check out this article and you’ll find out everything you need to know.
How can I view Raw files in my Windows 10 PC?
1. Download Adobe Lightroom
Edit, view, store, organize and share your photos including Raw format pics across any device with Adobe Lightroom.
Thanks to the Adobe Camera Raw plug-in seamlessly integrating with Lightroom’s architecture you can view and edit raw images from different cameras such as Nikon, Casio, Epson, Fujifilm, GoPro, Kodak, Konica Minolta, LG, and many others.
Lightroom supports editing for various raw image filename extensions such as CR3, DNG, NEF, CR2, CRW, and more.
Let’s quickly look at its key features:
- Manage any number of photos
- In-app, interactive tutorials available on both desktop and mobile
- Extensive photos library for inspiration
- Panorama fill edges
- Cloud storage starting at 1TB or more
2. Download Adobe Bridge
Adobe Bridge is a complex asset manager that lets you preview, manage, edit, and publish multiple assets including raw format images.
You can view and process JPEG, PSD, TIFF, and camera raw images in Adobe Bridge thanks to the aforementioned Adobe Camera Raw plug-in.
To open and view raw images in Adobe Bridge, all you need to do is specify this option in the Camera Raw preferences from the Edit menu. Then, in the General tab, go to the Behavior area and click the Camera Raw Settings.
Needless to say, you will enjoy a wide range of additional features that will definitely come in handy like organization tools, filters, and search options.
Let’s quickly look at its key features:
- Option to import photos and videos from your mobile devices
- Transparency support for PSD
- Batch export to JPEG
- Edit photo capture time
- Native PDF Output Module
- Quick organization and stacking of panoramic and HDR images
- Drag-and-drop file flexibility
3. Use the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack
Microsoft introduced the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack to enable photographers to view Raw photos in Windows 7 and 8. That pack supports various Canon, Epson, Casio, Kodak, Sony, Nikon, Samsung, and Panasonic camera models among others.
Click Details on this page to expand the full list of supported cameras.
However, Windows 10 has built-in support for the codecs in Camera Codec Pack. Thus, you might find you can open Raw images in Windows 10 without installing any additional codec if it already has out-of-the-box support for your camera.
Nevertheless, there are still plenty of proprietary camera formats that Windows doesn’t support.
You have your camera and your photos. Now you need a good photo editing tool and we’ve prepared a list of the best ones available right now to help you choose the right one for you.
4. Add the Latest Raw Codec to Windows 10
If you can’t already open Raw images in Windows 10, you’ll need to install a Raw image codec that supports your camera model. For example, this Sony Raw Driver enables you to open Raw photos captured with supported Sony cameras.
The best place to look for a codec is usually the manufacturer’s website. However, you might also find the codec required at Codecs.com.
Enter the keyword ‘Raw codecs‘ in the site’s search box to search for codecs that open Raw photos.
5. Set up a Default Viewing app for the Raw File Format
When you’ve installed a Raw codec, you can open the images in Windows Photo Viewer. However, the Photos app in Windows 10‘s default image viewer doesn’t support Raw.
You’ll need to configure the Raw file format to always open with Photo Viewer as follows:
- First, open File Explorer and the folder that includes your Raw images.
- Next, you should right-click a Raw image to open the context menu; and select Open with > Choose another app to open the app selection dialog below.
- Then select Windows Photo Viewer as the default software for the Raw file.
- Select the Always use this app to open … files option so that Windows Photo Viewer always opens the Raw photos.
- Press the OK button to close the app selection dialog. Now Windows Photo Viewer will display the Raw photographs when you open them.
If you encounter any problems in the Photos app, we’ve got an extensive guide on how to solve pretty much everything that could go wrong.
6. Download other third-party tools
You can open Raw photos with numerous third-party image viewers. We suggest one that will save you the trouble with many other formats as well.
FileViewer Plus is a universal file viewer for Windows that can open and display over 300 different file types, view and edit camera raws from over 600 different camera models.
You can download it for free from the official website or buy it at an affordable price.
Now you can open more detailed Raw photos in Windows.
Although you can’t edit them with the Windows Photo Viewer, you can add effects to Raw photographs with software such as Adobe Lightroom, Corel’s PaintShop, Lightzone, Photoshop, RawTherapee, DxO Optics Pro 9 and Capture One.
If you have any questions about Raw photos and how to deal with them on Windows 10, feel free to drop them in the comments section below.
FAQ: Learn more about Raw images
- What is raw image file?
Raw files do not use any compression techniques which allows them to render higher quality images as captured by your digital camera’s sensors.
- How do I open a RAW image file?
In order to open a raw image on a Windows device, you need specific codecs and drivers. A more optimal solution are third-party apps that can serve as image viewers such as Adobe Lightroom.
- Can Lightroom convert RAW to JPEG?
Yes, Adobe Lightroom can convert a raw image into a JPEG format file (and other formats as well). All you need to do is export the file you want to convert and select the JPEG option from the drop-down menu of the file settings’ section.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2016 and has been since revamped and updated in April 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.