In previous versions of windows you could have a file preview pane in file explorer so that you could see the content of a file (Word or Excel etc.) before you opened it.

Is there a way to set the preview pane in Windows 10 - I have not been able to find it. If it isn't there I may need to revert to Windows 8.1 as I use it all the time - because we give our files numeric names in my company so the name gives you no idea what the file is!


5 Answers 5


I'm pretty sure that the OP is asking about how to view the contents of text-based files, such as Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, text files, etc. The preview pane doesn't necessarily show all of these.

I for one would like to know how to enable this so I could quickly preview .js, .php, .pug, or any other "text-based" file.

I found an easy way to do this is to go into your registry editor (run: regedit), then go into HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE -> SOFTWARE -> CLASSES and find the entry for the file extension you want to be able to preview. Right-click on the folder with the entryname and select New -> String Value from the context window. Make sure it has the following properties:

  • Name = PerceivedType
  • Data = text
  • Type = REG_SZ

It's not the most automatice, or elegant solution, but it works.

Credits to @user255627 for that one https://superuser.com/a/647459/638281

  • 1
    My .html folder there in Classes unfortunately already has "Content Type" = "text/html" and "PerceivedType" = "text", but the previews don't work. I just see a Chrome icon.
    – Ryan
    Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 16:51
  • I used this solution and it works to a degree. As soon as I select a file, it shows in the preview pane, and is then immediately replaced with the message "This file can't be previewed because it is in use." If I click to disable and then re-enable the Preview pane, the content appears as it should. It is almost as if the Preview Pane traps itself as having the file in use. Commented Jan 28, 2019 at 17:31
  • For previewing files without extensions, such as files called CHANGELOG or LICENSE, add the folder named . (extension-less extension) and add with Name = PerceivedType (REG_SZ) with Data = "text". Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 2:20

Open This PC.
View Menu [may need to tap alt for the menus to appear]
Top left of the drop-menu

enter image description here

If you see icons instead of Thumbnails in the preview pane, then
from the same menu
View > Options > Change folder & search options...

enter image description here

View tab.
Make sure the top option is unchecked.

enter image description here


There is the "PreviewConfig" freeware that goes way back that does this pretty easily. I use it all time with an old version I got long ago, however it feels dangerous since it is freeware that modifies your registry - a lovely vector for malware.

But that aside it is pretty decent - but the UI is "donkeys old".

Here is a link: http://www.winhelponline.com/blog/previewconfig-tool-registers-file-types-for-the-preview-pane-in-windows-vista/

I wish there was something in the windows store - or best a feature built directly into the Windows Explorer...


Here is a newer version I have not tried yet. Looks like the author is maintaining it (a bit) now. https://chocolatey.org/packages/previewconfig


I think you mean the preview pane, which would appear on the right of the default views. Start as above, but you will see where it says "panes" in the top left. There is the button for "preview pane"

Why they didn't put this useful button exactly where it was, I have no idea. Maybe it's because the programmers do what they are told and somebody in charge of them thinks that grey, grey and grey are good colours and that you would work exactly the way they do, touching a few buttons every once in a while on a tablet, with somebody else to do the actual office work.

  • I bet you would like Classic Start Menu. Commented Feb 7, 2021 at 15:45

Used the ms review-handler-association-editor in order to explicit set the preview when the extensions are associate to a program.

  • The link leads to a post without any code Commented Dec 1, 2023 at 14:58

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