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How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

Benj Edwards
How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10Benj Edwards
Associate Editor

Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast. Read more.

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

It’s easy to preview files without opening them in Windows 10 thanks to the Preview Pane feature in File Explorer. You can see thumbnails of most images, videos, audio files, and some text-based documents. Here’s how to turn it on.

(You may have heard about a security flaw involving the preview pane, but that was fixed on Windows 10 with an update released on April 14, 2020. If you have the latest updates, it’s safe to use.)

First, open File Explorer. To do so quickly, press Windows+E, or click the folder icon in your taskbar if File Explorer is pinned there. You’ll also find File Explorer in your Start menu.

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

In the menu bar at the top of the File Explorer window, click “View.”

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

Find “Preview pane” in the upper-left region of the toolbar and click on it.

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

The Preview pane is now activated. Navigate File Explorer to a folder that has documents you’d like to preview. When you select a file, you will see its preview thumbnail in the right side of the window.

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

File Explorer also has a related feature called Details Pane. To turn it on, click “View” in the Explorer menu bar, then click “Details pane” in the toolbar (it’s right next to the Preview pane option).

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

When you highlight a file with Details pane turned on, you will see a tiny thumbnail (for applicable file times) and some details about the file, such as its size or the date created, in the right portion of the window.

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

A Keyboard Shortcut for Viewing the Preview and Details Panes

It’s also possible to quickly toggle the Preview and Details panes using keyboard shortcuts. Here’s how.

  • To open or close the preview pane, press Alt+P.
  • To open or close the details pane, press Alt+Shift+P.

Microsoft’s free PowerToys for Windows 10 can add support for additional file types to the Preview Pane, including SVG images and text documents formatted with Markdown.

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How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10 Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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Windows File Explorer offers a preview pane, where, when a file is selected, a preview of the file content is displayed for some of the files. Text, PDF, Images are some of them that support this.

However, if, for some reason, the Preview Pane doesn’t display anything, and displays the “No preview available” message when you select a file, then this post is going to show how to fix it. It is possible that it is not restricting with certain file types, but with all or few media file types. One of the users reported that images work, but not the media files such as audio and video.

Preview Pane not working in Explorer

  1. Enable Preview Pane
  2. Run System File Checker
  3. Add More File Types to Preview Pane

Preview Pane is extremely helpful when you have many text and media files and want to preview without opening them. It can be a little tricky when there is a custom file type, but it will work if the software supports it.

1] Enable Preview Pane

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Switch to the View section.
  3. Select Folder/File Options button.
  4. In the Folder Options section, switch to the View tab,
  5. Select the checkbox against —Show Preview Handlers in Preview Pane.

2] Run System File Checker

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

SFC or System File Checker is a utility from Microsoft which can scan and restore corrupt Windows System Files. There may be corruption in the files related to previewing handlers, and this tool can help you fix it.

3] Add More File Types to Preview Pane

Use the PreviewConfig Utility to add more file types to Preview Pane. The tool helps you fix if Preview Type is set to another, i.e., if the text file is set to Media file instead of Plaint-text.

If you have a custom file type ; and wish to register a plain text or a multimedia preview handler, you can do so using this utility for this custom file type.

I hope the post was useful, easy to understand, and one of these tips helped you to preview files as expected.

File Explorer shows files in multiple layouts; details, tiles, content, and various icon sizes. When you opt for one of the icon size layouts e.g., large icons or extra-large icons, the file’s thumbnail basically gives you a preview of the file. This preview is reserved for common image files e.g., PNGs and JPGs. For other file types, a similar preview-thumbnail is not shown.

If you’d like to preview other types of files in File Explorer, you can enable the preview pane.

Preview Pane in File Explorer

In order to enable the Preview Pane in File Explorer, follow the steps below;

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Go to the View tab on the ribbon.
  3. Along the left, you will see a button called Preview Pane. Click it.
  4. The Preview Pane will appear on the right side inside File Explorer.
  5. Select a file and a preview for it will appear in the Preview Pane.

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

The Preview Pane in File Explorer supports more than just image files. You can, for example, select a text file, or a Word document and get a preview for it, but that still doesn’t mean it has universal support. You will not get a preview for a lot of file types, including movies.

You can toggle the Preview Pane in File Explorer with the Alt+P keyboard shortcut.

Preview Pane alternative

If you’d like a quick method to view details about a file, but you know it isn’t supported by the Preview pane, you can try using a free app called QuickLook.

QuickLook mimics the quick preview feature that macOS has. On macOS, users can select a file and tap the spacebar to get a preview of the file.

To use QuickLook;

  1. Install the app from the Microsoft Store.
  2. Once installed, open File Explorer and navigate to a folder that has a file you’d like to preview.
  3. Select the file, and tap the Spacebar.
  4. A new window will, and it will show you a preview of the selected file.

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

QuickLook supports more formats than the preview pane, including video files. It’s also much more efficient. The Preview Pane is a stock Windows 10 feature, but when you use it in a folder that has lots of files, e.g., lots of image files, it can take a few seconds to show the preview. QuickLook is much quicker on the draw.

The app also lets you quickly open the file in its default app with the click of a button.

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How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

File Explorer is a Windows built-in tool and it has a preview pane. Is the Windows 10 preview pane not working? This post from MiniTool tells you how to get rid of the “Windows 10 preview pane not working” issue. Now, keep on your reading.

Windows Explorer has a preview pane on the right side of each window. It provides you with a preview that provides information about the file without actually opening it. This function applies to images, text, PDF files, videos, and Microsoft documents. The user needs to click on these files, and the preview pane on the right will display the content.

Sometimes, you may encounter the “Windows 10 preview pane not working” issue. Now, let’s see how to get rid of the issue.

1. Enable Preview Pane

You may have accidentally closed the preview pane in File Explorer. You need to check and enable it. Here are how to enable it.

Step 1: Press the Windows + E keys at the same time to open File Explorer.

Step 2: Go to the View tab and check the Preview pane option.

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

2. Run SFC

SFC (System File Checker) is a Windows built-in tool used for replacing damaged, lost, or changed system files with good system files. Running this tool can fix some system errors. To do that, you just need to open Command Prompt and then type sfc/scannow and press the Enter key. Then, you can check if the “Windows 10 Explorer preview pane not working” error has been fixed.

3. Enable Show Preview Handlers

You can also enable the “Show preview handlers in preview pane” setting to fix the “Windows 10 preview pane not working for images” issue. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Open File Explorer and go to the View tab. Then, click Options.

Step 2: Next, click Change folders and search options.

Step 3: Go to the View tab and check the Show preview handlers in preview pane option. Then, click Apply and OK.

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

4. Change File Explorer Startup Mode

Opening the File Explorer application to this computer is quick access to fix the “Windows 10 preview pane not working” issue. Follow the steps below:

Step 1: Open File Explorer and go to the View tab. Then, click Options.

Step 2: Next to the Open File Explorer to option, change Quick access to This PC.

Step 3: Click Apply and OK to save the changes.

5. Reset Folder Options

The last method is to reset folder options to get rid of the “Windows 10 preview pane not working” issue. Here are the details.

Step 1: Open File Explorer and go to the View tab. Then, click Options.

Step 2: The Folder options Window will show up. Here, click the General tab. Then, click the Restore Defaults option down below.

Step 3: Then click the View tab. Again, click the Restore Defaults option.

Step 4: Click Apply and then click OK. Restart your computer.

Final Words

To sum up, this post has shown 5 ways to fix the “Windows 10 preview pane not working” error. If you come across the same error, try these solutions. If you have any better solution, you can share it in the comment zone.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Position: Columnist

She was graduated from the major in English. She has been the MiniTool editor since she was graduated from university. She specializes in writing articles about backing up data & systems, cloning disks, and syncing files, etc. She is also good at writing articles about computer knowledge and computer issues. In daily life, she likes running and going to the amusement park with friends to play some exciting items.

Learn how to add an Image Preview command to File Explorer to quickly view any image.

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

For anyone who often works with images in Windows, the ability to quickly preview an image without having to launch a full image editor can be a handy time-saver. Windows 7 and 8.1 offered the built-in Photo Viewer through which you could easily preview an image in File Explorer. In Windows 10, the Photo Viewer still exists but it’s no longer set up to preview files in File Explorer. How can you fix that?

You can create an Image Preview command in Windows 10 File Explorer through a Registry tweak available online. After that, just right-click on the image you wish to view and select Image Preview. With Photo Viewer now open, you can view the full image, zoom in and out, and move from one image to another.

First, open File Explorer in Windows 10 and right-click on any image—JPG, PNG, TIF, GIF, etc. Notice that there’s no option in the popup menu to preview the file without having to open it or edit it in an image viewer, such as Photos or Paint 3D. You can always change the view to show large thumbnails, but that doesn’t display the image full screen (Figure A).

Figure A

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

The Registry tweak to correct this issue comes courtesy of a user named Nexus, who several years ago posted the necessary keys and values on the TenForums website. Launch your browser and go to the discussion thread for this item. The thread offers you two options:

  1. You can copy and paste the Registry content into a text file and then save it as a reg file.
  2. Alternatively, you can download the right reg file already created.

We’ll choose the second option as that’s easier and less prone to error.

At the top of the first message in the thread, click the link for Restore Windows Photo Viewer In Windows 10 (Figure B).

Figure B

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

Scroll down the next page and click the Download button under Restore_Windows_Photo_Viewer_ALL_USERS.reg. You should also download the file for the Undo_Restore_Windows_Photo_Viewer_CURRENT_USER.reg in case you ever want to undo the changes (Figure C).

Figure C

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

Double-click the reg file you downloaded and click Yes to the prompts for User Account Control and adding information to the Registry.

Return to File Explorer. Right-click on an image file and you should now see an Image Preview command in the popup menu. Click that command to view the image in Windows Photo Viewer (Figure D).

Figure D

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

Photo Viewer instantly pops up. Click the magnifying glass icon and move the slider to zoom in or out of the image. Click the Fit To Window icon to display the full image. Click one of the rotate arrows to rotate the image clockwise or counterclockwise. Click the right arrow key to display the next image in that folder, or the left arrow key to display the previous image. Finally, click the middle slide show icon to play a slide show of all the images in the folder (Figure E).

Figure E

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

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I n this tutorial, we are going to see how to preview a file without opening it in Windows 10. Usually, to access the content of a text or other document, you have to double-click on it to open it in its original program (Word, Excel, PDF reader, etc.). Now, imagine that you are looking for information, but you don’t know in which document it is located. In this case, you have to open all your documents one by one until you find what you are looking for… You have to admit that this process can quickly become long and tiring.

Fortunately, Microsoft has been thinking about its customers and has introduced a new option within the Windows 10 File Explorer. Let’s find out without further how to preview a file without opening it in Windows 10.

How to Preview a File Without Opening it in Windows 10

With Windows 10, you can now view the contents of your files without opening them, and even copy the data they contain.

Indeed, Microsoft has introduced the preview pane within the File Explorer. This allows you to directly display the contents of your files in a preview area on the right side of the window. This allows you to browse the document, flip through the pages, and in some cases even copy the data contained in it to paste it wherever you want.

For images or photos, the preview pane allows you to have a much larger preview than the small thumbnail displayed in the Explorer.

To enable this famous option, open File Explorer and select the View ribbon at the top of the window. Then click on Preview Pane on the left side of the ribbon. You should see the Preview Pane on the right side of the Explorer window.

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

You can of course adjust the size of the pane by placing the mouse pointer on its left border, then press the button and drag.

I have installed Acrobat Reader and stored lots of PDF files on my Surface Pro 3 tablet. After the recent Windows 10 updates, the preview pane become unreadable and is too small to view. It only happens with PDF and other formatted files are still large enough to display. I try it on the extended monitor screen and get the same thing. How can I resolve the problem?

The PDF preview pane is zoomed in completely without scroll bars. I notice that only the upper left corner is visible in File Explorer. Then I tried some tips, such as restarting the Windows Explorer process through Task Manager, configuring the default app for .pdf in Settings app, reinstalling Adobe reader software, but it is not working.

How to fix PDF preview pane small and unreadable issue in Windows 10 file explorer
* Within the File Explorer, click on the View tab on the ribbon panel, and select preview pane option.
* Open the Acrobat Reader, tap or click on the Edit menu, and select Preferences option. Under General tab of the Preferences dialog box, check the Enable PDF thumbnail previews box, and click on OK button.
* Finally restart the system to take effect. The thumbnail previews should be appeared normally in File Explorer.

Another workaround
* Within the File Explorer, navigate to the location where your PDF files store.
* Scroll down through a number of files to load the previews cache fullly. Perhaps you need to rename them to the text title of the document.

If you are using multiple monitors in Windows 10, the preview function is fine with smaller monitor like your tablet or laptop. The larger monitor always resizes the pdf preview and zooms it in. It happens with my standard brand 4K monitor and seems to lacks of the special drivers for that. To get rid of that, you’d better move the file explorer window to the small display.

Have you ever wondered how to preview SVG files in Windows 10 with File Explorer like this?

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

Unfortunately it is not a built-in feature, as it is with the MAC operating system. To enable the ability to view SVG thumbnails in Windows 10 File Explorer, there is an extension you can install called the SVG Explorer Extension. For those with a lot of SVGs, this makes it way easier to browse and preview their SVG files in Windows. In the video, I also demonstrate Adobe Bridge, which is a free tool to preview SVG files and other image files. You can watch video that explains everything you need to know below.

Here are the basics, as explained in the video.

    to download the SVG Explorer Extension, renamed to SVGSee. Note where you saved it.
  1. Close all applications and run the install. If Windows Defender attempts to block the install, just click on “More info” to install. This is shown in the video.
  2. Once installed, reboot your computer and you should now be able to view SVG thumbnail previews in File Explorer.

Troubleshooting (Things to try if it does not work)

How to show file explorer’s preview pane on windows 10

  1. Check File Explorer options. Under the View tab, make sure “Always show icons, never thumbnails” option is UNCHECKED.
  2. If you installed an application associated with an SVG file, you may have to re-associate the SVG file format to Internet Explorer. I have seen this happen to a few people. Both this and the previous issue is explained in the video.
  3. If steps 1 & 2 do not work, it is recommended to reach out to the developers on the download page to see if they can assist.

I hope a few found this helpful. If you did, I would appreciate a LIKE on my video! Now that you know how to do it, Click here to shop for few new SVG files to your collection!

Previewing files in Windows is definitely a useful feature. It allows you to see a file’s content without opening it. But not many users know about how to preview files, images, and Videos in File Explorer on Windows 11/10.

If the same goes for you, too, then don’t worry I am here to guide you with all the steps. However, there is already the thumbnail preview, but that doesn’t perform as well as the File Explorer preview.

So let me just go ahead and tell you the steps you have to follow.

How to Preview Files, Images, and Videos in File Explorer on Windows 11/10?

To preview files, videos, or images, and other supported files types in the folder, you will first need to enable the preview pane in Windows. 11 and Windows 10 To do so, you can follow the below steps:

  • At first, go to Windows File Explorer.
  • Click on View from the top menu bar.
  • Now on the top select Preview Pane if you are on Windows 10. For Windows 11, go to show and then select preview pane.
  • Now a new pane will appear on the right side in the File Explorer. So whenever you select a file, it will show a preview in this pane.

How to preview photos and videos thumbnails in File Explorer?

There is also another method that lets you preview media files in File Explorer. For this, you have to enable thumbnail viewing and change the view mode to larger icons. Such as large icons or extra-large icons mode.

However, this feature is only limited to a specific folder or directory. This means, if you set it up for one folder, it will not show in another folder. So you have to make the settings for each folder in which you want to see a right-side preview.

To change the view mode of a folder in file explorer, you need to follow the below steps:

  • At first, go to a Folder.
  • Click on the View tab from the top menu.
  • Then select a view mode you want for previewing files.
  • The thumbnails files are viewable in only Extra large icons, large icons, and medium icons mode
  • You can also drag, and increase the view size of the preview pane to get the best of both worlds.

Apart from these, the other modes will only display the icon of the app used to open the file type.

Also, the extra-large icons mode is the largest view mode. And you can only set for thumbnails in Windows File Explorer.

File Explorer shows app icons instead of thumbnails for images and videos

In certain cases, File explorer may end up showing app icons instead of thumbnails for images and videos.

However, fixing this issue is not as complicated as it might seem. And here are all the steps that you have to follow:

  • From File Explorer, click on the triple dotted icon on the menu bar.
  • Select options.
  • Then from the Folder Options Window, click on the view tab. Under the advanced settings, uncheck the checkbox for the Always show icons, never thumbnails option.
  • Finally, click on Apply, then OK to save the changes.

How To Fix Preview Pane Missing in File Explorer?

If the preview pane is missing in File explorer, then it is probably disabled on your computer. To enable it, go to File Explorer > View > Select Folder/File options > Switch to View tab > Place a check next to Show preview handlers in the preview pane.

So that was all for how to preview files, images, and videos in File Explorer on Windows 10/11. Now go ahead and try the steps out and see if they are of any use to you or not. Also, for any other questions, do comment below.