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Open and View RAW Files in Windows 7

Friday, August 19th, 2011 by | Filed Under: Digital Photography

If you own a DSLR, or an advanced compact camera, you will likely have the option to shoot your images in the RAW file format. This format offers photographers the highest quality you can get from your digital camera, but it is not the easiest format to work with because it often requires third party programs to open or edit these files.

If you have RAW files stored on your computer, you can’t see a thumbnail image of the photo in a Windows Explorer window. All you see is a generic icon that lets you know it is an image file. If you double click these files and try to preview them without the aid of something like Photoshop or Lightroom, you get a message saying that this file format is not supported. So, just how do you view RAW files in Windows 7?

How to View RAW Files in Windows 7 (Icons)

With the release of its Camera Codec Pack, Microsoft is looking to change how you work with RAW files. It offers photographers the ability to view thumbnails of RAW images in Windows Explorer, and the option to open JPEG copies of them for editing in the Windows Live Photo Gallery. Simply download and install the Codec Pack, and you will instantly see the difference with how Windows handles your RAW camera files.

How to View RAW Files in Windows 7 (Thumbnails)

The Camera Codec Pack can be used on Windows 7 or Vista with Service Pack 2, and it is offered as a 32 or 64-bit download depending on what version of Windows you currently run. It’s compatible with almost all digital cameras that have ever had the ability to shoot RAW images, and is available for free from Microsoft.

Nobody would consider the Camera Codec Pack as a replacement for dedicated RAW image editors, but the convenience of being able to view and open RAW files without the need for a resource-hog like Photoshop, is hard to beat.

~Jonathan Wylie

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11 Responses to “Open and View RAW Files in Windows 7”

  1. Greg Martin says:

    Thank you!

  2. Alice Sanders says:

    Thank You Thank you Thank you!!!

  3. Patrick says:

    Downloaded and installed the Camera Codec Pack and all went well. I then rebooted system and went directly to my pictures. The flower designs were still there and not the actual photograph. Do I need to do something else? Please help because I really hate this red floral design.
    Thank you,


    can the camera codec pack be used with windows XP?

  5. Carrie George says:

    Same thing as Patrick…I am still showing that Flower design. Has anyone else figured it out as I cannot view my RAW photos yet and have to keep importing every photo to Lightroom just to see it….

  6. Julian Maytum says:

    I discovered that you have to right click on the item and choose preview. Then once in Gallery you click on Edit, organize or share. Once there it should start building the previews in explorer but if not just open and save one of the images. The problem I have is it only does it for that particular folder and, if you quit the program before the previews are generated it obviously stops. It is very slow as well. I’m off looking for alternative solutions in the meantime.

  7. romeo says:

    i tried to download program as indicated takes less than 5min got up to 73% and it stalled for more than 5min. i canceled the download cause it took time and waisted my money. so overall not a vey good thing to download or even try.

  8. mk says:

    Hi i have downloaded and installed Microsoft camera codec and it works great, but my windows is asking for genuine now how to resolve the problem.

  9. Sathish says:

    Thank u :)

  10. Sathish says:

    Hi mk, there is file for making the windows genuine popup go away,, you can simply copy paste the windows genuine file to ur drive,, u can easily find it in google;)

  11. Seriozny says:

    What about Windows 10?

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