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Pictures in Windows Photo Viewer Won’t Rotate (SOLUTION)

Windows Photo Viewer is an old Windows 7 app for viewing photos. By default, the app cannot be used on Windows 10 but a simple registry hack can enable it again.

This app, while technically obsolete, is still one of the best photo viewers you can get on Windows 10. The stock Photos app on Windows 10, while feature-rich, is still slow and doesn’t offer the best photo viewing experience. 

Windows Photo Viewer doesn’t have a lot of features but it does offer some editing features; you can rotate photos by clicking the arrow buttons on the control bar at the bottom.

Can’t rotate picture in Windows Photo Viewer

If you’re trying to rotate pictures using Windows Photo Viewer, and they don’t rotate, check for the following impediments.

1. Check file attributes

If there’s a particular image that you cannot rotate in Windows Photo Viewer, check if the file is read-only. When a file is read-only, edits to it are blocked.

  1. Right-click the file.
  2. Select Properties from the context menu.
  3. Go to the General tab.
  4. At the very bottom, uncheck the Read-only attribute box.
  5. Click Apply.
  6. Try rotating the image.

2. Check file permissions

Another reason you may not be able to rotate a photo is that you don’t have the authority to edit the file. This happens most often when you’ve imported photos from a camera.

  1. Right-click the photo and select Properties from the context menu.
  2. Go to the Security tab.
  3. Select your user name, and click Edit.
  4. Enable all permissions or uncheck all permissions under the ‘Deny’ column.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Try rotating the image now.

3. Add user access

The previous method may not work if your user isn’t listed. In that case, you will have to add it.

  1. Right-click the file and select Properties from the context menu.
  2. Go to the Security tab.
  3. Click the Edit button.
  4. Click Add.
  5. Enter your username in the ‘Enter the object names to select’.
  6. Click ‘Check Names’.
  7. Once added, grant the newly added user full permission to edit the file (see previous solution).

4. Try a different app

While Windows Photo Viewer is a great app, and it continues to work flawlessly in most cases, you can always use a different app to rotate photos. 

  1. Open the photo in the stock Photos app.
  2. At the top, click the rotate button or tap the Ctrl+R key.
  3. Once you’ve rotated the image, click the more options button at the top right.
  4. Select Save as.
  5. Save the new image.

5. Run system file check

File permissions are often what prevent a file from being edited and rotating an image is an edit to the file. If after trying to resolve the permissions, you’re still unable to rotate the image in Windows Photo Viewer, there may be a problem with system files.

  1. Open Command Prompt with admin rights.
  2. Run this command:sfc /scannow
  3. Allow the scan to finish and repair any files it can.
  4. Next, run this command:DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth
  5. Again, let the command finish.
  6. Restart the system.
  7. Try rotating the file.

Save the change

Windows Photo Viewer does not have a save button but when you close the app after rotating an image, you will briefly see the ‘Saving’ message appear on the app. If you’re using a different app to rotate images, e.g. the stock Photos app or IrfanView, make sure you save the file after rotating it.

Conclusion

Windows Photo Viewer normally only runs into problems if there’s a problem with the file you’re viewing. It’s mostly a simple app that works without trouble. The only exception is if the app is unable to read EXIF data which is where information about the file’s orientation is stored. In that case, using an alternative app is a good idea.

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