Is it possible to register a normal exe file which displays a window as Windows File Explorer preview shell extension?

More specified: If you have an exe, can you just register that exe as Preview Pane in the File Explorer or is this only possible if the exe is built for doing previews?

If it is possible, how?

  • Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking.
    – Community Bot
    Sep 15, 2021 at 8:39
  • Yes it's possible. Microsoft has already provided documentation and tools in their Dev Kit (freely available online) for doing this, I'd guess. What research have you done? The application will need to be in the form and support the functions required by Microsoft in order to function in this role. Sep 29, 2021 at 16:01
  • @music2myear Which dev kit? Sep 30, 2021 at 7:29
  • The Windows Dev kit. I'm sorry but I thought that would be apparent from the context. Web searches are your friend. Oct 1, 2021 at 21:02

2 Answers 2


Negative answer: A preview handler is specially programmed to do its job. A "normal" executable does not implement the required interfaces.

From the Microsoft article Preview Handlers and Shell Preview Host:

Preview Handler Architecture

A preview handler is a hosted application. Hosts include the Windows Explorer in Windows Vista or Microsoft Outlook 2007. Hosts implement IPreviewHandlerFrame as a method of communication between the preview handler and the host.

The preview handler itself implements these interfaces:

  • IInitializeWithStream
  • IObjectWithSite
  • IOleWindow
  • IPreviewHandler
  • IPreviewHandlerVisuals (Optional)
  • I already thought that, I just had the hope that it works with just a exe Sep 15, 2021 at 17:50

It sounds like what you want is to add something to the Context Menu like this https://stackoverflow.com/questions/20449316/how-add-context-menu-item-to-windows-explorer-for-folders or https://lifehacker.com/add-any-application-to-the-windows-context-menu-1627589106

Hopefully that is enough to get you pointed in the right direction. If not, I am not sure what you are asking.

  • Link only answer is useless. Can you elaborate on this a litle more?
    – Toto
    Sep 15, 2021 at 12:55
  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Sep 15, 2021 at 15:46
  • Context menus are not the same thing as the preview pane. Sep 29, 2021 at 16:02

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .