If you convert RAW files to DNG as a part of your workflow in Lightroom like I do, you probably get frustrated with the fact that Windows does not display DNG image thumbnails or let you view files in Windows Photo Viewer. Windows by default does now know how to read DNG files and the only operating system today that has some support from Adobe, is Windows Vista. Adobe officially released a 32-bit DNG codec for Windows Vista, but it does not work with the 64-bit version of Windows Vista, Windows XP or Windows 7, making it pretty worthless. Gladly, there are a couple of workarounds to get all Windows operating systems to display DNG thumbnails and open them in Windows Photo Viewer and I will show you how to do that in this quick article.
DNG support in Windows XP
Interestingly, Windows XP (32-bit) comes with full DNG support, but it needs to be activated from the Windows registry. If you are running Windows XP, here is what you need to do:
- Download this registry file and save it on your desktop
- Double-click the file, which will ask you to confirm if you want to add entries to your registry. Click “Yes”, which then will modify the registry as needed.
- Reboot the computer.
- Go to a folder with DNG files and switch to thumbnail view. Verify that you can see the thumbnails, as you can see with JPEG files.
- Delete the downloaded registry file from your desktop.
DNG support in Windows Vista and Windows 7
If you are running the 32-bit version of Windows Vista, you can certainly try the 32-bit version of Adobe DNG codec, which can be downloaded from Adobe Labs. However, I personally recommend using the third party FastPictureViewer WIC RAW Codec Pack, which is 100% free (as of 06/17/2010, the product is no longer free, as explained here. The codec pack is now $9.99. If you want to get the older version that is still free, either Google for “Fastpictureviewer codec 1.70” or download the file from CNET – not sure how long CNET will keep the file), includes full DNG support for both 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows Vista/Windows 7 and covers over 20 RAW image formats from 300 different camera models (all current Nikon cameras, including D3s are supported). Once you download and install the codec, the program will ask you to reboot your PC.
After the machine is rebooted, go to a folder with DNG files in it and you will see that the image thumbnails are now visible:
You can also open the DNG files in Windows Photo Viewer:
Now you don’t need to open each DNG file in Lightroom or Photoshop just to see its contents, thanks to the FastPictureViewer codec pack!