.CR2, .CRW, or Just Plain Annoying

Cannon Digital Camera

So you just bought a fancy $500 digital camera. After gleefully taking enough pictures to fill up your memory card, you upload them to your computer. Now, of course, you want to take a look at your photographs. But guess what? You computer won’t open the files! They’re all .CR2’s – whatever that means.

The Problem

.CR2’s – also known as CRW’s or RAW’s – are the file type created when you take a manual picture with a Canon camera. Nikon cameras also use a similar file type. They are really high resolution, and excellent for photo editing – but can be a pain in the butt to work with.

If you have a Canon camera, you already know that pretty much the only way to open one of these files is through Photoshop. Windows won’t open them and won’t show you a thumbnail, making it nearly impossible to find the one you want without opening every single one. This can become incredibly frustrating when you want to find a specific image and have to load every single one in Photoshop.

If you’re feeling ready to pull your hair out, don’t. If you’ve already started, go ahead and shave the rest off to match; you won’t be needing to pull out any more, because there is a way to fix this. Read on, and we’ll explain how.

The Solution

There are multiple programs you can download which will help you open RAW files – and they’re free! (After paying $500 for a camera, they darn well better be free.)


This program allows you to view images and even do a little editing. It supports a huge range of file types, although for .CR2’s you’ll have to download an additional plug-in.

Microsoft RAW Image and Thumbnail Viewer

After getting complaints from Windows users about not being able to open their files, Microsoft released a downloadable program to fix this. The thumbnails come back after you download it!

Canon RAW Codec

I’ve got to say, kudos to this manufacturer for coming up with a solution to the program they created. According to the download page, this program “enables the import and display of Canon RAW image files.” Which basically means that it lets you use the camera you paid all that money for. However, it’s only compatible with Windows operating systems.

So, look these programs over and take your pick. After the cost of the camera plus the hair you pulled out, it should be a relief to finally be able to open your pictures. Have fun!

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