Windows 10 Photos App Blurry Display Problem

Background

The upgrade to Windows 10 brought with it a big change to a seemingly small and basic app. The Windows Photo Viewer was switched out in favor of the Photos app. Actually the Photos app was introduced with Windows 8 and fit right in with its heavy emphasis on touch-friendly interface. Like the older Photo Viewer, people have used these photo viewers to open up their photos (or any other images) with a simple double-click. The image displayed fit to the window for best viewing. Basic functions allowed you to page forward and back through all the photos in a folder, start a slideshow, zoom in and out, and rotate. It’s really a great way to look at your pictures and you don’t have to bother with any photo management software. In my experience, it beats the way things work on Mac as well.

Thankfully, the replacement Photos app allows you to do most of the same things. Back when I updated to Windows 10, I read that people were able to go back to using the older Windows Photo Viewer with a registry change. But I figured I’d stick with the new one. That was despite a few minor problems and inconveniences I found. From what I’ve read, many issues have been fixed, but a several nagging ones are still around. Lots of people still prefer the older program. Discussion of some Photos App issues are here on Reddit.

The “Blurry Problem”

To get to the point finally – I didn’t notice it at first, but I think I had an inkling in the back of my mind that something wasn’t right viewing my photos. Well, recently I finally had it hit me. I was looking at photos of a past hiking trip to pick one for printing as an 8×10. I looked at one that I remembered as being pretty good, but when I looked with a careful eye, it turned out to be kind of blurry. At that point I actually opened the photo in a web browser to compare, and that’s when I noticed it did indeed appear much more blurry in the Photos app.

Someone might say that’s just how the Photos App chooses to render and display resized/zoomed-out versions of images. It’s lower quality, so what? Maybe it’s faster that way. But there is a problem with that. Yes, I learned it’s blurry enough to affect print decisions and give a poorer viewing experience. But also, the app actually does render a better quality image; it just doesn’t show that version when you first open an image. The displayed image after zooming in and back out is sharper/clearer than the one originally displayed. That occurs when the Photos app is using your entire screen or not, or if you used the full-screen button.

I can go further than that. On some occasions, when first opening an image, I’ve seen the Photos app display a better quality version for a split second. Then it softens or blurs into the worse quality version. It happens quite quickly so I didn’t notice it at first, but I can repeat this.

Examples, Test it Yourself

I made a bunch of PNG screenshots of this phenomenon and put them up on OneDrive as demonstration. The screenshots after initial opening are a bit blurry and have smaller file size than the screenshots after zooming in and out (smaller file size = lower quality). The originals are there too so you can try it if you like. These are photos with several different dimensions, which shows it doesn’t just occur in some specific sized images.

Help Get This Fixed

Now this may not be occurring for everyone, but there are plenty of people that have noticed it. A Microsoft Community thread “Photos app often displays sharp images as somewhat blurry (includes example)” has posts from many. I’ve been posting there lately as I worked to help identify the problem. If you notice this also, please post your experience, and vote up the issue in the Feedback Hub once that is available. UPDATE: This topic is now a feedback entry in Feedback Hub for Windows users. Please click to view the topic and vote it up!

I hope that Microsoft can correct this since it really bugs me.

10 thoughts on “Windows 10 Photos App Blurry Display Problem

  1. Bluecatfish says:

    After deleting hundreds of photos because I thought it was my fault in causing the blurry photos, I now learned that it was the fault of the Windows Photos app. I am very disappointed in Windows for not caring enough to recognize this prior to putting it out, and not trying to fix the issue. I don’t know if I can go back to Windows 7 or 8 to fix this or just download a different app. Any help here would be great.
    Thanks
    Bluecatfish

  2. Colin Dufton says:

    I have an issue with still images. When I bring up a photo in the Windows viewer it is slightly blurred, but after several seconds (sometimes as long as 20 seconds) it becomes sharp, and this is really frustating when editing and trying to compare images. My computer is new with Windows 10, an ASRock A2+ motherboard, AMD A10 7890 quad core processor with Radeon R7 graphics and 8 gig. ram. Does anyone know how to sort this problem?

    • Colin, thanks for commenting. Sorry for the late reply, but I can only take a shot in the dark. Generally when opening a photo and it starts blurred but gets sharper, that is because it takes that long to process and display the image. A blurry version is displayed initially as a preview since it doesn’t require the same processing. Your computer should be plenty fast. It could be more of a storage issue. Possibly the image file size is quite large and/or your storage drive isn’t fast enough. Where do you have these photo stored? You could test by comparing opening of a much smaller image. Try scaling down one of your photos in an image editor to only 25% or something like that.

    • I have the same problem. A photo will open clear for an instant, then it gets blurry for several seconds, then clear again. Annoying. How can it be initially clear, then get blurry with some sort of processing apparently going on…

  3. I appreciate your post. After the last Windows update, my photo viewer defaulted back to the Photos app. Easy enough to switch back to the old Photos Viewer but it got me thinking again about this absurd issue with photos appearing blurry. After editing my images in Photoshop, it’s ridiculous to not be able to simply view them with their actual sharpness in the default photo viewer. While browsing the Microsoft forum regarding this issue (which I’ve done for 10 years now) this time, I came across a suggestion to try the freeware FastStone Image Viewer. That solved my viewing problem and gave me more features than I ever expected in a photo viewer.

    • Hi Mari, thanks for reading and posting your experience. I may have to check out that photo viewer. Actually I have noticed that the Photos app seems to show my photos sharper than before. I’ve gone through my test images and they look much better compared to my screenshots from before. Some people in the Microsoft forum say they still have the problem though. It definitely still shows images smaller than the window size as blurry, but my main issue with it has been improved thankfully.

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