Skip to main content

Windows 11 Photos app update — these are the 3 biggest changes

Microsoft's Photos app gets a new look in Windows 11
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Windows 11 is coming, with a launch date set for October 5. And as part of that overhaul to Microsoft's operating system, the Photos app included with Windows is getting its own update, too.

While some of the changes in Microsoft's Photos app would qualify as cosmetic — Microsoft wants the Windows 11 apps to mirror the overall look of the upcoming software update — there are some new features detailed by Microsoft in a Windows 11 blog post that introduce new tools to the app.

Here are the top changes coming to the redesigned Photos app in Windows 11, and what they'll mean for Microsoft's photo organization software. We're also expecting to see more of Windows 11 at Microsoft's Surface event Wednesday, September 22nd.

A new multi-view look for images in Windows 11 Photos

In Windows 11, you'll be able to stack photos side by side to compare them. This can come in particularly handy if you're trying to figure out which photos to use in a specific project or if you're just paring down your photo library by only keeping your very best shots.

Microsoft's Photos app gets a new look in Windows 11

(Image credit: Microsoft)

You'll be able to activate the new multi-view look in Photos by selecting images from a filmstrip of all your photos that appears at the bottom of the app's screen. That filmstrip feature is part of the interface overhaul Photos gets in Windows 11, which we'll examine further in just a bit.

Multi-viewing is part of an overall change to how photos are displayed in Windows 11. The Photos app now offers edge-to-edge views of images that also give you access to photo-editing capabilities via an updated toolbar. Speaking of which...

There's a new editing toolbar in Windows 11 Photos

Microsoft says it updated Photo's toolbar to provide quick access to editing capabilities like cropping, rotating and touching up your images. You can also use the toolbar to view metadata for a particular photo, designate favorites by selecting a heart or marking them up by using a mouse or a pen. (That latter feature works on supported Windows 11 devices.)

Microsoft's Photos app gets a new look in Windows 11

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The toolbar is also where you'll be able to quickly jump to third-party photo apps if they can offer something you can't get in Windows 11's Photos offering. Microsoft specifically calls out apps such as Adobe Photoshop Elements, Affinity Photo, Corel PaintShop Pro and Picsart in its blog on the changes coming via Windows 11.

A new look for Photos in Windows 11

Given the interface overhaul going on in the rest of Windows 11, it's a no-brainer that the Photos app will follow suit. Expect the rounded corners and Mica design language you'll find throughout Windows 11 to land in this photo organization app.

Microsoft's Photos app gets a new look in Windows 11

(Image credit: Microsoft)

But there are some other changes too, and we're not just talking about the updated typography styles and theme-specific color palettes that Microsoft says it's including. There's also that aforementioned filmstrip containing thumbnails of all your photos at the bottom of the screen. Use that strip to select images for either edge-to-edge viewing or the multi-view look described above. When you want a full look at the photos, you be able to dismiss both the filmstrip and the toolbar.

Photos in Windows 11 Outlook

As with the rest of Windows 11, the updated Photos is now available to Windows Insider Program participants as part of the Windows 11 beta. The rest of us will have to wait until the full version of the software arrives Oct. 5. Microsoft is holding an event this Wednesday (September 22) where it will likely focus on Windows hardware, though you'd expect more Windows 11 details to be a part of that showcase, too.

Philip Michaels
Philip Michaels is a senior editor at Tom's Guide. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics and old movies. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.