How to View Pictures on Your PC or Mac

Open images on the web or your desktop

Chinese photographers working in studio

Lane Oatey / Blue Jean Images / Getty Images

There are multiple ways to view images from the web on your desktop or in a browser. All Windows and Mac computers have built-in image viewers, but it's possible to open image files in a program other than the default.

Instructions in this article apply broadly to all computers and web browsers.

How to View Pictures You've Downloaded From the Web

Every file type is associated with a specific program on your computer, so double clicking an image file will open it in your computer's default image viewer.

Double click an image file to open it in your computer's default image viewer.

If a file type is not supported, then you will be asked to choose a program to open it with. Microsoft Photos and Preview for Mac support all image formats including GIF and JPEG images, so if they cannot open the file, then you need another type program. For example, you can only open .PSD files in photo editing software like Photoshop.

If the file type is not supported by your image viewer, then you must select another program to open it with.

There are many alternative freeware and shareware image viewers that you can download from the web. Some offer additional features for basic image editing and converting file formats. When you install the image viewer, it should automatically set the file associations to open the most common image files.

It's possible to change file associations if you want a particular type of image file to open in a different program.

How to Open Pictures in Your Web Browser

If you want to take a closer look at a picture on a website, right click the image and select Open in new tab.

Right click a web image and select Open in new tab to view it up close in your browser

You can also drag an image file on your computer into your browser window to open it.

You can drag an image file on your computer into your browser window to open it.

Pictures on the web may have copyrights attached to them. Always check with the owner of a site before using images that don't belong to you.

How to Open an Image With a Different Program

If you don't want to use the default image viewer for Windows or Mac, right click the image file and select Open with. Choose one of the alternate programs listed, or select Choose another app.

Right click the image file and select Open with, then choose one of the alternate programs listed, or select Choose another app.

When you choose a different program to open the image, select the box beside Always use this app to open files of the same type with the chosen program in the future.

Select the box beside Always use this app to open files of the same type with the chosen program in the future.

Open Images With Photo Editing Software

Using an image viewer is usually faster when you just want to look at a picture, but if you plan to make modifications to the images, you'll need an image editor. There are free image editors like Gimp and Paint.NET that support color correcting, cropping, and adding text, and there are also premium photo editors that include more features.