Microsoft is Reworking the Photos App in Windows 10

Posted on October 6, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Music + Videos, Windows 10 with 25 Comments

Microsoft is Reworking the Photos App in Windows 10

Windows 10 users on the Windows Insider Fast ring can take an early peek at a visual reworking of the Photos app which ditches the hamburger menu navigation and offers a cleaner look and feel.

Note: I was tipped off to this change by Windows Central’s Daniel Rubino.

It’s not clear yet whether this change marks a wholesale move away from the hamburger menu, which is unnecessarily controversial in some circles. But I think not: For this app, especially, being able to easily navigate between its limited set of views is in fact better served by the new tab-based design.

To understand the change, here’s what the Photos app currently looks like in Windows 10. As you can see, it sports a dark theme and uses a collapsible hamburger menu on the left for navigation.


But if you’re a Windows Insider on the Fast ring, you can update to a coming updated version of the app that offers two major, obvious changes: There’s new, tab-based navigation, where the three main views—Collection, Albums, and Folders—are always visible and available. And, like most other in-box apps in Windows 10, it now correctly supports the OS theme and lets you manually switch between dark and light modes.


I happen to prefer my media apps in dark mode, and the result is both visually pleasing and—thanks to the simpler new navigation—easier to use.


Note that the update is also available on Windows 10 Mobile. I expect this update to makes it way through the other Windows Insider rings and then out to production in the coming weeks. Looking good.


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Comments (25)

25 responses to “Microsoft is Reworking the Photos App in Windows 10”

  1. 442

    I had a recent "user experience" talk with the Microsoft folks.  The idea of showing things rather than hiding them came out a lot in that discussion.  Seems Microsoft gets it, and is removing the hamburger menus when it really doesn't make sense to have them.  Sure, if there are a dozen options needed, put a menu there.  If it's just a few and some used a lot, show them.  Clean is nice, but not when it hides the options needed to be used a lot.

  2. 5949

    I don't think this version is going to go out to everyone, when you make the window small it just cuts of the upper naviation, it isn't full responsive just yet. Anyway, this is a great improvement. This UI would fit the Store app well too.

  3. 1977

    I am not happy with the sort options (oldest & newest). I have many folders where I name photos in the sort order I prefer.

  4. 639

    Saw the steak in your screenshot and immediately forgot what the article was about.  Stupid meat lust! :-) 

  5. 6203

    When Microsoft will make Windows 10 search smarter ? please use artificial intelligence search to search documents content including PDF

  6. 6197

    Also, after adding some more features to this app port this puppy over to Android and iOS. Take on Google Photos.

  7. 6197

    I feel the Windows Photo App desperately needs features to make a compelling case, not simply a UX change. I dare to say Windows Photo Gallery (last updated in 2012 and expecting an end of support in Jan 2017) sports more features that this app.

    In the Photos App where are the Geotags, Captions and Tags support? A search box? People (Facial Recognition) Tags? Decent file metadata support?

    I am currently testing out third party replacements such as ACDSee as a replacement to WPG in 2017. 

  8. 2354

    Well it couldn't get much worse.

    Why the hell didn't they just 'metro'ize' Windows Live Photo Gallery (and its Live Mail app) instead of pushing these unusabe, feature barren junk-apps to everyone.

  9. 5530

    Microsoft is reworking [insert subject here]. There you go. Evergreen headline.

    Also, this change is long overdue. But whatever - I bet 2 years from now Microsoft will "rework" the app again and end up replacing this with something else because Microsoft.

  10. 5496

    The hamburger menu is fine on mobile. On my desktop, I really don't care for them.

    But at least, you could have hide and unhide them.

    • 6210

      In reply to lordbaal1:


      On mobile it's so tedious constantly going back and forth to the hamburger. So much more intuitive swiping left and right!

      Hamburger has its uses, but not for everyday navigation or dumping everything else into it. Hamburgers should be for functions that aren't used on a regular basis.

  11. 699

    Everytime I hear the words 'hamburger menu' I get the sudden urge to wanna drive through a Whataburger or In-N-Out drive-thru real quick ;P I think the changes look good! But if they're going to change one app, they should just eventually change them all, to avoid confusion and make all of Windows unified. This goes for both Desktop and Mobile.

  12. 663

    Hamburger serves it's purpose for some apps, others try to shoe horn it in to be consistent. This is a welcomed change, well at least until I stop using onedrive.

  13. 5610

    I am fine with the Hamburger, and I think removing it removes consistency. I try to explain to tech un-savvy folks that "all the new apps" have this hamburger where you can open up the left side of any window. Well now Maps, and Photos lack that consistency.

    Honestly I will trade that minor complaint for the fact that they now have "text labels" on the buttons at the top of the Photos App screen. Why did that take so f-ing long?! Text labels should be a right, not a feature. My 84 yr. old mother has all of the sudden began Sharing and editing photos with a vengeance, ever since the text labels appeared on the photos app. Duh?! Please please please Microsoft; more of this for the folks that are less than savvy, will win them over.

    • 5497

      In reply to JimmyFal:

      Speak for yourself, I hate the damn hamburger menus. If you ask me, hamburger menus have no business existing on a desktop operating system. Mobile devices? Yes, obviously due to limited screen room. But as for desktops? Nope, nope, nope. Many of us have huge 17 inch (or even larger) screens... start using that space!

    • 5530

      In reply to JimmyFal:

      Consistency is overrated. They ruined Windows 10's consistency with the re-designed start menu in the AU so might as well carry on from there.

  14. 5394

    The hamburger menu is fine. It's just that the Photo app and other apps are unusually stark and unuseful when you first open it. Many functions are not presented and you have to look and find things. Then you can't find what you need and leave in frustration. The Photo app tries to work as a slimmed down mobile app, which doesn't make sense on a desktop PC.

  15. 5486

    I still think the whole UWP interface/UI design is awful. So much wasted space everywhere you look, and it all just looks so stark and lifeless. The Dark theme is just too contrasty too - everything is either just black or white, which is one of the main reasons Windows 10 Mobile just looks so terrible to me. It's all just flat and boring.

    • 5530

      In reply to ghostrider:

      Modern design is a waste of space, just look at all of Google's apps pre/post Material Design. White space everything! Also, I doubt "too contrasty" is an actual complaint lol, the last thing I want is a lack of contrast like in Office 2013 or the File Explorer ribbon.

    • 5497

      In reply to ghostrider:

      The whole UWP concept was made for the mobile platform where there's limited screen room. Desktops don't have those limitations. Many desktop users have huge screens with tons of space, start using that space!

    • 5234

      In reply to ghostrider:

      Flat colours is fine - if it's done right.  And you need to have some negative space otherwise everything looks crowded.  It takes a good graphic designer to get things right though.

  16. 5400

    The "Photos" app in Widows would have been named "Milk toast" if the name had not already been taken. Anyway the app started out in Windows 8 as with so little functionality (much worse than the one that came from the Windows Live team) and was ignored for so long that it will have then same fate as Windows Media Player. That and the fact that most non-pros use one of the many excellent photo apps on their mobile devices.

  17. 3309

    The change is minor, and alright I guess, but what else is new with the app?

    I see with the latest update that you can now specify the folder pictures are imported into by the day (not just yyyy-mm) so that's a move in the right directon.

    There is so much that can be added to it, but hopefully not at the expense of bloat or slowing the response time (esp. when looking through large albums or huge collections).

    - Imporoved editing

    - online sharing (Facebook, Flickr, Instragram, etc) ... I don't know if it his this feature already and I haven't found to use it, or if it is there.

    - Resize the thumbnails so you can view more on the screen at once, or view more details while looking through pictures

    Overall, though, it isn't a bad app.

  18. 691

    I already have this version on the Release Preview Insider ring on Win10 Mobile. I want to say it has been this way for a little while on Mobile but I could be mistaken.

  19. 6308

    Finally! I suggested a similar layout over a year ago.

    Now they have to deside wich tab header style they want to use. Store (on PC), People app and Photos app have all different styles for the same thing.