How to see file preview in Windows 10 and 11 explorer

The Windows 10 operating system has certain features and functions that, despite being very useful, are a bit hidden and that is why many users do not use them. One of them is the one that allows you to see a preview of your files from the Windows 10 explorer. Although it is a utility that has been in the Microsoft operating system for some time, not many users know that they have it and how they can use it. However, as you can see, it has some limitations, as there are certain file formats that are not previewed.

Surely it has caught your attention to see how many Apple computers show a Preview of the content in their file explorer. This, which many think does not exist in Windows or that it is necessary to install third-party programs, is available natively in the operating system. In the following tutorial we explain how we can activate this function in both Windows 10 and Windows 11, the difference with the preview of the thumbnails and the way to solve the problems that we may encounter along the way.

see file preview in Windows 10 and 11 explorer

Preview your files in Windows Explorer

To activate this function and thus be able to see a preview of your files in Windows 10 explorer, the first thing we have to do is open a file explorer window and then press the Alt + P key combination . This will not enable an area on the right hand side of our explorer window, which will be where the files are previewed. Now, we only have to select a file and see how a preview of its content is displayed in that reserved area of the file explorer.

It is possible that we have to maximize the browser window to be able to see the preview of your files without having to move over it with the scroll bars. However, if we select a file with an image format, we may not see the preview, since this Windows 10 utility allows us to see the preview of certain files such as documents, spreadsheets or presentations, while the pictures does not show them.

In Windows 10

  1. Open Windows file explorer
  2. Click on the option “View” in the upper area
  3. Find the option “Preview Panel” and activate

In Windows 11

  1. Open Windows file explorer
  2. Click on the “View” option in the upper area
  3. Display the submenu “Show”
  4. Find the option “Preview Panel” and activate

MacOS-style QuickLook tool

To solve these deficiencies, we can use a tool such as QuickLook, a free software that we can download from the Windows store itself and that has been developed to offer users the possibility of seeing the preview of your files from the browser of Windows 10. QuickLook allows you to preview images and even videos without any problem.

To start using QuickLook, the first thing we have to do is install the application from this link to the Microsoft Store and once installed we start it. We can see that an icon appears in the system tray, which indicates that we can now use the tool. Therefore, we can now open a Windows explorer, select the file we want to see a preview of and press the space key on our keyboard, which is the one that activates QuickLook.

A new window will automatically be shown to us with the preview of the selected file. To close it, just click again on the space or on the cross that appears in the upper right part of the preview window.

Thumbnail preview

We should not confuse that Windows File Explorer Preview panel with the Preview of file thumbnails. This is, basically, that the content of the document, video, etc. is displayed. on the icon instead of the default icon . Although they are activated in the system by default, we can do it in these ways:

Via folder options

  1. Open Windows file explorer
  2. Click on the Options tab
  3. Find “Always show icons, never thumbnails” and uncheck

Through the registry editor

  1. Open the Windows registry by pressing Windows + R and typing Regedit
  2. Find the key:
    1. HKEY_CURRENT_USER_SOFTWARENMicrosoftWindowsNCurrent VersionNPoliciesN-Explorer
  3. Double click on Disable thumbnails or DisableThumbnails and set the value to 0
  4. Restart your computer

In case it does not exist, we will create a New DWORD value (32-bit value) with those parameters.

Through advanced system settings

  1. Right button on My Computer
  2. Open Properties
  3. Click on Advanced System Settings
  4. In the “Advanced” tab, enter Performance Settings
  5. Check the box “Show thumbnails instead of icons”
  6. Restart your computer

Preview doesn’t work: what to do?

In certain situations it is possible that the operating system stops showing us the Preview of a specific type of file or of all files in general. If that happens, the first thing we should try is to restart the system in case a blocked process has ended up affecting this feature.

If this does not work, we will have to do memory to remember if we have installed something recently that has “broken” the Preview. If we remember, a solution may be to uninstall it. Sometimes some programs cause conflicts with Windows functions and we have no choice but to delete them from the system, opting for an alternative.

Finally, from the Microsoft support forum they explain to us that sometimes we may lack a Preview due to corruption in the system . To solve it, we will follow these steps:

  1. Press the Windows + X keys
  2. Select Command Prompt (Administrator) or Windows PowerShell (Administrator)
  3. Type the following commands and hit enter after each line:
    1. exe / Online / Cleanup-image / Scanhealth
    2. exe / Online / Cleanup-image / Restorehealth
    3. exe / Online / Cleanup-image / Startcomponentcleanup
    4. sfc / scannow
  4. Restart the computer

After each command is “launched”, it may take some time. Don’t worry, just wait a bit for the system to complete the task we have assigned it. If this doesn’t work, Microsoft suggests creating a new user profile.