TIF/TIFF Associations and MODI

The TIF (and TIFF) is a popular format for scanned images that, for some reason, refuses to fade away. All personal prejudices against the file format aside, one very real corporate issue with the TIF file is the tendency for the association in the registry to break whenever Microsoft Office is updated.

Microsoft has admitted that this is an issue, and that a hotfix available:

After you install Microsoft Office 2003 Service Pack 3 (SP3) or certain post-SP3 security bulletins, the TIF, TIFF, and MDI files are no longer associated with Microsoft Office Document Imaging (MODI).

This problem is resolved in the Word 2003 hotfix package that was released on February 24, 2009.

However, the hotfix does not always solve the problem, and has affected environments that also use Office 2007.

Associating using Group Policy Preferences

After installing the Word 2003 hotfix, more may be required in order to ensure that all workstations are truly associating the TIF extension properly. Using a scheduled task that is pushed via Group Policy Preferences (GPP) is one solid method for managing this issue.

Step 1 – Create the registry information

In order to easily manipulate the registry on multiple machines, create a registry file with the following information and either save it to a server share or push it out to the workstations. Additionally, all of the following can be entered directly into a GPP Registry setting collection.

“Content Type”=”image/tiff”





“Content Type”=”image/tiff”










@=”rundll32.exe C:\WINDOWS\system32\shimgvw.dll,ImageView_Fullscreen %1”



@=”rundll32.exe C:\WINDOWS\system32\shimgvw.dll,ImageView_PrintTo /pt “%1” “%2” “%3” “%4″”

Step 2 – Assign a Computer Scheduled Task via GPP

Create a GPP and assign it to the computers that you want to update with the correct TIF registry information. Use the following command:

regedit /s “\servershareregistryfile.reg”

This will silently update the registry with the information contained in the registry file.

Note: Make sure that your parent GPOs do not disable this ability, or else it will fail. You can disable the registry tool for users, but still provide the silent install feature for policies.

Step 3 (Optional) – Repeat the Scheduled Task

In situations where the TIF association breaks outside of updates, it may be necessary to repeat the scheduled task above on set intervals. I have set it to as fast as once per minute with no adverse affects. In the one minute situation, I made sure that the registry file was locally copied to the workstations to avoid any unwanted network traffic.

Step 4 – Using the ASSOC Command

Another handy command is the ASSOC (Associate) command. When executed, it will display or modify the file extension associations. Adding these lines to a startup script or scheduled task will make certain that the Microsoft Office Document Image viewer is the default selection for TIF and TIFF:

assoc .tif=MSPaper.Document
assoc .tiff=MSPaper.Document

Microsoft Office 2010

Unfortunately, MODI does not exist in Office 2010, which is actually quite a let down – this tool is very efficient at displaying all of the things that most users want from a TIF (page count, thumbnail views, quick scrolling, etc.). While there are alternatives out there, such as IfranView, these products are generally not free for corporate use.

This link outlines some of your alternatives built into Microsoft.