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How to enable the Preview Pane in File Explorer on Windows 10

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.

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.

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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