Pretty self explanatory title.

I've got a Windows 10 machine with the preview pane turned on, because I often have to sort through PDFs. However, large Excel files hog the computer for 3-10 seconds at a time, when usually what I do with them is just copy-pasting them around (no need for previewing them).

Can I only disable excel previews, but still have PDFs previewing regularly?

  • 1
    You could sort the view by file type and avoid previewing the Excel files.
    – teylyn
    Jul 2, 2017 at 22:18
  • I could, but whenever I click them (to copy them, for example) the explorer hangs for 3-10 seconds.
    – Tom Granot
    Jul 3, 2017 at 16:19
  • Well, then don't use the preview pane with large Excel file. It's that simple.
    – teylyn
    Jul 3, 2017 at 21:56

4 Answers 4


There is a "Preview Handler" associated with every file extension in the registry, that can be disabled.

The known file extensions are under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT as ".xlsx" for example. If the extension has a Preview Handler, then there is a subkey always called "HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.xlsx\ShellEx\{8895b1c6-b41f-4c1c-a562-0d564250836f}". That subkey has a default value that points to the Preview Handler, if you clear that default value or remove the subkey, the preview for that file extension will be disabled. You could store a copy of that key by going right-click -> Export, so that you can restore the preview handler later if need be.

I gathered this from a Microsoft document here, even though they describe an extra "step" in mapping the preview handler, which i found not to be the case on Windows 7, 10 and Server 2016. Maybe someone can explain/correct this.

  • Thank you for this -- Excel 2010 has been crashing because of the File Explorer previewer frequently for me. Now I can remove just that previewer and still use the others I want. Oct 4, 2018 at 19:23

ShellExView is a great utility that allows to do this.

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Windows Explorer: Click one of the following: Tools > Folder Options > View or Organize >Folder and search options. Clear Show preview handlers in preview pane.

  • PS: Can I only disable excel previews, but still have PDFs previewing regularly? the answer is no
    – leung
    Jul 19, 2017 at 6:59
  • @ leung "Can I only disable excel previews, but still have PDFs previewing regularly?" the answer is yes. In Win10 File Explorer, File>Options>View in Advanced Settings disable "Show preview handlers in preview pane" resulted in exactly this behavior. Excel files no longer open in the previewer and I can still see PDF files in the preview pane. If your results are different than I suspect it is differences in the default PDF viewing program. I use Nuance Power PDF. Your solution worked for me. Jul 24, 2019 at 20:10

I needed to disable Excel previewer because of some issues it was causing with Excel display scaling. ShellExView and Windows Explorer approaches didn't work for me but the direct registry edit did.

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