Window 7 Tip: Enable the Preview Pane for Quick File Viewing

Navigating through your personal files can sometimes be a nightmare, and it can often times be easier to open individual documents to find exactly what you’re looking for.  After awhile, you can find yourself with multiple open documents, but none of them were the one you were looking for.

By default, you documents will appear in a list or as icons in the Windows file explorer.  The Preview Pane in Windows 7 makes quickly viewing your documents a breeze.

Enabling The Preview Pane

Enable the Preview Pane by clicking the Preview Pane button in your open explorer window.

You can also navigate to Organize > Layout and click on Preview Pane to enable it.

Clicking on a file will now show a preview.  Note that not all files may not be viewable in the Preview Pane.

Below are a couple of examples of what documents look like in the Preview Pane.

Excel file in Preview Pane
Word document in Preview Pane

You cannot edit files through the Preview Pane, but you can copy the contents of the file.

You can re-size the Preview Pane to increase the preview size by clicking and dragging the vertical line separating the Preview Pane from the file list.

Thanks to Erica Johnson for this tip.  If you have any article ideas or other tips, be sure to send them to






4 responses to “Window 7 Tip: Enable the Preview Pane for Quick File Viewing”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Techerator, pbvinge. pbvinge said: RT @techerator: Window 7 Tip: Enable The Preview Pane For Quick File Viewing […]

  2. Erica A Johnson Avatar

    Good to know that I can help sometimes 🙂

  3. zizi Newton Avatar
    zizi Newton

    I have two desktops and one laptop. Words preview pane always displays on the desktops ( one with windows 7 and one with windows 10). It does not work on the laptop.

  4. Brockney C HouseFM Avatar
    Brockney C HouseFM

    I do various work on the computer every day ranging from social media to music production to web design and I never knew this function was there!

    Very useful!

    I had switched it on by accident and didn’t know how so I wanted to know how to pick and choose when to use it. That is so straightfoward, thank you very much for this article! 🙂

Leave a Reply