Fix Windows Picture and Fax Viewer--By Replacing It!
Reader Bruce has a weird, weird problem with his XP-powered Toshiba laptop: If he tries to open any JPEG or PNG image file saved to the Windows Desktop, it appears momentarily in Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, then disappears.
Interestingly, if the pictures are located in any other folder, they open just fine. Likewise, if Bruce right-clicks a picture and chooses Open, they open just fine. It's only double-clicking them on the Desktop that creates this problem.
I've done some research on your behalf, Bruce, and I'm sorry to say I don't have an answer. I do, however, have a workaround: Use a different image viewer.
Though I can see the appeal of using Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, which is quick, compact, and built right into Windows, it's not good for anything other than, well, viewing.
My suggested replacement: IrfanView. This free image viewer/editor has been my go-to for years. It's tiny, it loads in a flash, and it lets me crop, resize, and otherwise tweak images with ease. (When you install it, or any other image viewer, make sure to agree to it becoming the new system default for images, so those double-clicked files will open the new program and not Picture and Fax Viewer.)
The moral of the story is, if a program is giving you trouble and you can't find an easy fix, sometimes the best option is to replace it.