These days, most DSLR cameras produce images not as jpegs, but in the RAW file format. However, though this gives more flexibility in the editing suite, it can lead to issues when trying to open RAW files in Windows 10.

By default, the Windows 10 photo viewer does not always have the chops to handle these files. Though it can open some proprietary formats by default, you may need Microsoft’s Windows 10 RAW codec to access yours. Microsoft’s Raw Image Extension ensures the OS will play nicely with your camera, whether its Canon, Nikon, Sony, or any other major brand.

Installing codec makes the handles of raw images much simpler. You can quickly look through photos without having to import them into a third-party software like Adobe Lightroom and should be able to see their thumbnails for easy browsing. The process is simple, so let’s jump right into how to install the Windows 10 RAW codec:

How to Open RAW Files in Windows 10 with the Raw Image Extension

The Windows 10 RAW codec contains support for hundreds of camera models so that you can view their images in Windows Explorer. It’s as simple as running an installer.

  1. Download and Install the Raw Image Extension for Windows 10

    You can grab the latest version of the Windows 10 RAW codec here. After the download completes, it should automatically install. This requires the May 2019 update or higher.

    Windows 10 - Microsoft Store - RAW Image Extension

  2. See thumbnail previews for RAW images in File Explorer

    Windows 10 should automatically show the thumbnails of your RAW files after the codec has finished installing.

  3. Activate RAW image meta data in “Details” view

    In order to display the image information readout of the RAW files directly in the File Explorer, click on “View”, then on “Details”, then on “Add Columns” and finally on “Choose columns”.

    Windows 10 - RAW Images - Show Details in Columns

  4. Select RAW image meta data you wish to display

    In the dialog box that opens, you can select the image data that is important for you, such as exposure time, camera manufacturer, camera model, focal length, bit depth, bit rate and aperture, depending on your requirements.

    Windows 10 - RAW Images - Add Columns

  5. Manage RAW images based on meta data in “Details” view

    After clicking OK you will see the corresponding information in individual columns for each RAW image file in Windows 10.

    Windows 10 - RAW Images - Details in File Explorer

  6. Activate larger File Explorer preview pane for larger view

    In order to have the pictures displayed larger, you can activate the option “Preview pane” under “View”.

    Windows 10 - File Explorer - RAW Images - Preview pane

  7. Open Windows 10 RAW files in Photos app or Snip & Sketch app

    Alternatively, you can right-click on individual RAW files to open and edit them with the Windows 10 Photos app or the “Snip and Sketch” app.

    Windows 10 - File Explorer - RAW Images - open with Photos App