It’s easy to preview files without opening them in Windows 10 thanks to the Preview Pane feature in File Explorer. You can see thumbnails of most images, videos, audio files, and some text-based documents. Here’s how to turn it on.
(You may have heard about a security flaw involving the preview pane, but that was fixed on Windows 10 with an update released on April 14, 2020. If you have the latest updates, it’s safe to use.)
First, open File Explorer. To do so quickly, press Windows+E, or click the folder icon in your taskbar if File Explorer is pinned there. You’ll also find File Explorer in your Start menu.
In the menu bar at the top of the File Explorer window, click “View.”
Find “Preview pane” in the upper-left region of the toolbar and click on it.
The Preview pane is now activated. Navigate File Explorer to a folder that has documents you’d like to preview. When you select a file, you will see its preview thumbnail in the right side of the window.
File Explorer also has a related feature called Details Pane. To turn it on, click “View” in the Explorer menu bar, then click “Details pane” in the toolbar (it’s right next to the Preview pane option).
When you highlight a file with Details pane turned on, you will see a tiny thumbnail (for applicable file times) and some details about the file, such as its size or the date created, in the right portion of the window.
A Keyboard Shortcut for Viewing the Preview and Details Panes
It’s also possible to quickly toggle the Preview and Details panes using keyboard shortcuts. Here’s how.
- To open or close the preview pane, press Alt+P.
- To open or close the details pane, press Alt+Shift+P.