Microsoft Windows Explorer allows you to preview a file with the preview pane. This way you get a preview of the contents of the file without actually opening it. Explorer provides a preview of images, text, PDF files, videos and documents related to Microsoft Office. However, some Windows 10 users cannot preview their files in Explorer. For them, the preview pane option is grayed out or does not show a preview for specific files.
If the Preview pane is not working in Explorer on your Windows PC, try the solutions below. Let’s get started.
1. Activate the preview pane
You may have accidentally turned off the Preview pane in File Explorer. You need to check it and activate it. To do this, open File Explorer using the keyboard shortcut Windows key + E and maximize it to take full screen.
Click the View tab at the top. Check to see if the Preview Pane option is highlighted to make sure it is enabled. In case it is not, click on the Preview Pane option to activate it. As soon as you enable it, you should see the Preview pane on the right side of File Explorer.
To make sure the preview pane is working properly or not, use Windows Explorer in maximized mode or make sure it is wide enough to see the options in the View ribbon at the top.
2. Activate Show preview managers
In the Folder Options, you must enable the setting “Show preview handlers in preview pane” for the preview pane to work properly. To do this, follow these steps:
Step 1: Open File Explorer and click on the View tab. Click on Options.
2nd step: The Folder Options window opens. Go to the View tab.
Step 3: Under Advanced settings, check the box next to “Show preview handlers in preview pane”.
Step 4: Click on Apply then on Ok.
Step 5: Relaunch File Explorer. The Preview pane should show you a preview of the relevant files.
3. Disable the Always show icons setting.
In the Folder Options you will find the setting “Always show icons, never thumbnails”. If this is enabled, the Preview pane will show nothing. You must turn it off for the Preview pane to display the content. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Open File Explorer. Click the View tab at the top, then click the Options icon at the end of the ribbon. You can also search for File Explorer options in Windows Search.
2nd step: When the folder options open, click the View tab.
Step 3: Uncheck the “Always show icons, never thumbnails” checkbox.
Step 4: Click Apply to save the changes. Relaunch File Explorer.
The problem should be solved now.
4. Change the startup mode of the file explorer
One solution offered by Microsoft Forum suggests opening File Explorer on this PC instead of Quick Access to fix preview pane issues.
To do this, open the File Explorer Options window either from File Explorer or by using the search as we did above. When the Folder Options window opens, click the drop-down list next to “Open File Explorer To” on the General tab.
Select this PC. Click Apply to save the changes.
5. Change performance mode
Another solution that has helped users is to change the Performance mode from “Let Windows choose what’s best for my computer” to “Adjust for better appearance”. Here are the steps to achieve this:
Step 1: Open Windows Search on your PC. You can use the Windows Key + S keyboard shortcut to open Search.
2nd step: Type See the advanced system settings. Click on it.
Advice: You can open advanced system settings from Settings> System> About. Under Related Settings, click Advanced System Settings.
Step 3: Under the Advanced tab, click Settings next to Performance.
Step 4: Choose “Adjust for better appearance”.
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6. Run the SFC scan
Sometimes problems in Windows 10 can arise if the system files get corrupted. You can easily correct them by running an SFC scan. Here are the steps for the same:
Step 1: Open the command prompt on your computer. To do this, type CMD or Command Prompt in Windows search. Right click on the Command Prompt icon and select Run as administrator.
2nd step: Type sfc / scannow in the Command Prompt window and press the Enter key. Windows will now scan your computer and repair any corrupt files.
To note: The scan can take at least 15 minutes. Please be patient and do not close the window.
Step 3: Restart the computer after the scan is complete.
7. Reset File Explorer
If nothing seems to help you, you should try resetting File Explorer to factory defaults. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Open File Explorer options as shown above.
2nd step: Click the Restore Defaults button on the General tab.
Step 3: Go to the View tab and click on Restore Default Settings.
Step 4: Press Apply to save the changes.
Advice: Resetting File Explorer is also useful if File Explorer is loading slowly.
8. Use a third-party application
If resetting File Explorer doesn’t come to the rescue either, you can use the QuickLook app for the same purpose. It is a third-party application that shows the preview of the file when you press the space bar. Interestingly, it supports more file formats than Windows 10’s Preview feature.
Insights can be useful
Some files take a little longer to appear in the preview pane. You should wait a few seconds before choosing holes in the preview pane, especially if you are using an old PC.
Last updated on March 30, 2021
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