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turning off the photo viewer in facebookNew features on popular sites like Facebook can be met with as much excitement as rejection. It’s hard to think of any one change that Facebook has made that hasn’t been criticised in one way or another.

The latest of these changes that hasn’t gone down very well is the new Facebook photo viewer, in which photos are displayed in a somewhat clunky lightbox. There’s no way any change made to a site like Facebook is going to please every single one of its millions of members, and most of the time, there’s an add-on to get things back exactly the way they were.


While the concept of a lightbox isn’t a terrible idea, Facebook’s execution certainly leaves something to be desired. If you want to get rid of the lightbox and revert to the more simple display, there are two ways to do this – you can manually refresh the page, or install an add-on. While doing it manually is tedious, when installing an add-on, you have to grant access to your Facebook profile – so both solutions do come at a price.

The Manual Solution

If you would rather not install anything at all, and grant an extension access to your Facebook profile, there are two ways to manually remove the lightbox. First, refreshing the page will display the image the good old fashioned way minus the annoying lightbox. The second way is to remove ‘&theatre’ at the end of any URL of an image on Facebook. Removing that text will remove the lightbox.

turning off the photo viewer in facebook

The disadvantage to either of these methods is that you have to do it manually for every single album you open, which can become a bit tedious.

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Revert Facebook Photo Viewer (Chrome)

Chrome users can install the extension, Revert Facebook Photo Viewer which will automatically display images without the lightbox. The extension runs silently in the background and doesn’t need to be set up. Simply install and refresh.

disable photo viewer on facebook

Of course, installing this extension will grant it access to your Facebook data.

Facebook Photo Fix (Chrome)

Another option for Chrome users is Facebook Photo Fix which alters the appearance of the lightbox rather than remove it. Facebook Photo Fix moves the image down 40 pixels, and changes the background color from black to grey.

disable photo viewer on facebook

If you’re not averse the idea of a lightbox, this extension definitely makes it a lot more visually appealing, and of course, installing this extension will grant it access to your Facebook data.

Facebook Lightbox Killer (Chrome, Firefox & Greasemonkey)

Chrome, Firefox and Greasemonkey users can use the add-on Facebook Lightbox Killer to disable the lightbox preview. After installing the add-on, there’s nothing to configure. Just refresh Facebook and the changes will take effect.

disable photo viewer on facebook

The way that Facebook Lightbox Killer works is that it automatically refreshes the page the minute you load a picture, so it isn’t the smoothest way to deal with the issue, but is at least an automated alternative to manually refreshing the page.

Better Facebook (Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome & Greasemonkey)

Better Facebook is an add-on which does more than just remove the annoying lightbox. In fact, some might argue that it does far too much.

Better Facebook adds themes, tabs, allows you to mark items in your news feed as read, mute notifications from follow up comments, remove recent activity displayed in your profile, and much much more. When you first install the add-on, it will take you through a setup wizard determining and introducing you to some of the more prominent features.

how to disable photo viewer on facebook

You can always access the complete settings at any time from the options button on your Facebook page, which is where you can toggle the lightbox feature on and off.

turning off the photo viewer in facebook

Facebook Lightbox Killer is actually derived from Better Facebook, so like the previous add-on, it works in the same way, automatically refreshing the page once you open an image.

What do you think of the Facebook’s new photo viewer? Do you like it? Is it annoying enough to have to install an add-on to get rid of it? Let us know in the comments.

  1. Shanakamm
    April 23, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    just right click and select open link in new tab in firefox

  2. mel
    March 23, 2011 at 11:40 am

    The lightbox sucks. As does the new profile layout.

  3. Stic
    March 8, 2011 at 7:38 am

    Also try out FFixer, a Userscript for Greasemonky. It makes Facebook even better and the latest beta also disables the nasty theater mode.

  4. Randy Addison
    March 8, 2011 at 2:29 am

    Oh the Facebook photoviewer is just perfect. I really like it honestly. I just don't know why people just won't be contented on what is serve on the dinner table.

    • nm
      March 8, 2011 at 8:34 am

      When you have millions of people using a service - there's no way you're going to be able to please every single user - which is why it's great that there are other developers out there that are willing to offer tweaks that people want to use. And I certainly don't agree that we should just accept whatever is dished out to us.

  5. Ray Martin
    March 8, 2011 at 12:38 am

    Better Facebook is absolutely awesome! Thanks

  6. Bryan J. Bell
    March 7, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    You can just open the image in a tab (click mouse wheel) and it opens the old interface page.

    • R. Keuken
      March 9, 2011 at 11:48 am

      I like that, easy solution when needed.

  7. Chris
    March 7, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    Of course, installing this extension will grant it access to your Facebook data.

    What exactly does this imply?

    • nm
      March 8, 2011 at 7:10 am

      When you use any third party application on Facebook, you're granting them access to certain parts of your profile. When you install an app, you're asked if you want to allow it access to certain parts of your profile. What this means is the developer behind the app now has access to that part of your profile - usually this incudes at the very least your name, picture and friends list. When you use any third party app you have to trust the developers behind it. If you find an app has a lot of users, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. But it is important to be aware of what information you are sharing.

  8. Tom Hackett
    March 7, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Hitting the F5 key disables the lightbox temporarily.

    • Aibek
      March 8, 2011 at 5:14 am

      thanks for the tip

  9. Chris
    March 7, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Of course, installing this extension will grant it access to your Facebook data.

    What exactly does this imply?

  10. Silverknight
    March 7, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    What about middle clicking photos in facebook to disable the theatre mode?

    • Chris
      March 7, 2011 at 9:34 pm

      That doesn't work?

      • app
        March 8, 2011 at 12:54 am

        Actually, it works quite well.

      • Will Radie
        March 8, 2011 at 8:11 am

        it certainly does.. provided you have your middle mouse button set to open a link ion a new tab (and really, why wouldnt you? lol)

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