Viewing Raw Files in Windows Explorer

If you shoot raw files with your digital camera and you are using Windows 7 or Vista, you have probably noticed that you can't see previews of your pictures in Windows Explorer. Windows just shows you a generic picture file icon (sometimes an orange flower). But there's a solution available. Microsoft has just released a free program called the Camera Codec Pack that you can download and install. It enables Windows Explorer to show you previews of raw files from many digital cameras (including DNG format) as if they were JPEGs.

Windows 7 Explorer showing Canon raw file previews

Download the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack here.

Note that there are two versions of this program, one for 64-bit systems and one for 32-bit systems. Be sure to download the correct version for your computer.

You can even double click on an image thumbnail and see a larger, full-screen preview in a separate window.

Large preview of Canon raw file in Windows 7 Explorer

Because new models of digital cameras are constantly being released, if you have a very new camera, this program may not be able to display its raw files yet. Microsoft lists the supported camera brands and models on the web page, so be sure to check for your specific camera before downloading. Hopefully, Microsoft will provide updates along the way to add new cameras to the supported list.