So you can see the preview of your files in Windows 10 and 11

The Windows 10 operating system has certain features and functions that despite being very useful they are a bit hidden and hence 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 a while, not many users know that they have it and how they can use it. However, as you can see, it has some limitations, since there are certain file formats that are not previewed.

Surely it has caught your attention to see how many Apple computers show a Content Preview in your 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 how to solve the problems that we may encounter along the way.

Preview your files in Windows Explorer

To enable this feature so you can see a preview of your files in Windows 10 Explorer, the first thing we need to do is open a file explorer window, and then press the key combination Alt+P. This will not enable an area on the right side of our browser window, which will be where the preview of the files will be displayed. Now, we only have to select a file and check how a preview of its content is displayed in that reserved area of ​​the file browser.

We may need to maximize the browser window to be able to preview your files without having to hover over it with the scroll bars. However, if we select a file with image format, we may be left without seeing the preview, since this Windows 10 utility allows us to see the preview of certain files such as documents, spreadsheets or presentations, while the images do not show them.

On Windows 10

  1. Open Windows File Explorer
  2. Click on the “View” option in the upper area
  3. search option “Preview Pane” and activate

On Windows 11

  1. Open Windows File Explorer
  2. Click on the “View” option at the top
  3. Display the “Show” submenu
  4. Look for the option “Preview Panel” and activate

macOS-style QuickLook tool

To solve these deficiencies, we can use a tool like 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 their files from the Windows 10 explorer. QuickLook allows you to see the preview of images and even videos without any problem.

preview your files

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, indicating 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 what activates QuickLook.

Automatically we are will show a new window with the preview of the selected file. To close it, just press 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 Preview panel of Windows File Explorer with the Preview of the thumbnails of the files. This is basically to display the content of the document, video, etc. 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

Via 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 New DWORD value (32-bit value) with those parameters.

Via advanced system settings

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

Preview does not 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 must remember to remember if we have installed something recently that has “broken” the Preview. If we remember it, 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 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 (Admin) or Windows PowerShell (Admin)
  3. Type the following commands and press 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

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