How to Show the Preview Pane for File Explorer in Windows 11/10

Having loads of files such as images, documents, and more and looking for a particular file could become a lot difficult to open each file individually and check for it. Instead, if there’s a preview pane or window, the task could become much easier. While Windows does ship with the Preview Pane enabled by default, in case that has been hidden for you, In this post, I will guide you on How to Show the Preview Pane for the File Explorer in Windows 11/10.

How to Show the Preview Pane for File Explorer in Windows 11/10

How to Show the Preview Pane for File Explorer in Windows 11/10

While Windows offers a built-in option to preview files in Windows 11/10, there are quite a few third-party applications that could also be used to preview the files.

  1. Using the View Panel
  2. Using Keyboard Shortcuts
  3. Open Files using Third Party Applications

1] Show Preview Pane using the View Panel

Show Preview Pane View Panel

The option to turn on Preview Pane is hidden under the View panel in the File Explorer. Here’s how you can find it and turn it on.

  • Open the File Explorer. To do so, quickly click on the File Explorer logo in your taskbar or press the Win + E button on your keyboard.
  • In the menu present right at the top of the Explorer window, click and navigate to the View panel.
  • Here, find the Preview Pane button and click on it.
  • Additionally, instead of viewing a preview of the file, Windows also offers an option named Details Pane, which would show up the details of the file such as size, date modified, and more. This option is found right below the Preview Pane button.

With that, go ahead and locate a file. Instead of opening it directly, select it once, and you should have a preview window working.

2] Show Preview Pane using Keyboard Shortcuts

Show Preview Pane Keyboard

Additionally, just if you enable and disable the preview or details pane often, Here’s a simple keyboard shortcut to help you toggle it.

  • To Open or Close the Preview Pane in File Explorer: Press ALT + P
  • To Open or Close the Details Pane in File Explorer: Press ALT + SHIFT + P

3] Preview/Open Files using Third Party Applications

Cool File Viewer:

Cool File Viewer is a free application for Windows which allows users to view any file on the PC by simply selecting any file via the program window without first having to decide which application to use to open the file.

The application supports many common audio and video formats and can display many images, web pages, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Pages layout file types. Additionally, It can be used for watching movies, listening to music, including file formats like MKV, MP4, and more.

Download from Microsoft Store


QuickLook is free software for Windows and works just like macOS’s Quick Look feature. Users can press enter to open the default app or choose a different app to open the file or preview it.

While there are not many options to customize the app, it does support CTRL + Mouse Wheel to zoom in on documents and PDFs, and you can always quickly close the preview by pressing escape or move to the next document by pressing up / down. It works well for most file types you’d want to preview, but GIFs might take an extra few seconds to load.

Download from Microsoft Store

File Viewer Plus:

File Viewer Plus allows users to open over 150 different file types with one simple app. With this simple application, users can open documents, spreadsheets, presentations, images, audio files, video files, archives, and much more.

One can save time by previewing files with File Viewer Plus. Additionally, it also offers a paid option to extend the variety of formats and features supported, such as over 300 supported file formats – Save, edit, convert, and print files, Batch convert multiple files at once, and more.

Download from Microsoft Store

With that said, How often do you prefer to preview files than to open them? Do let us know by dropping a comment down below.

Yash Jain
A long-standing Windows fan, Photographer, and Tech Enthusiast who loves to write about Smartphones and Technology.


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