How to use the Preview Pane add-on for File Explorer in Windows 10 PowerToys

The Preview Pane add-on offers a way to view more types of files without having to open them. Learn how to use this helpful tool.


Image: Microsoft

The Windows 10 File Explorer offers a handy tool called Preview Pane. Though this feature, you can preview many different types of files without having to open them in their associated applications. Though Preview Pane already supports a healthy array of file types, Microsoft has added two more courtesy of the latest version of PowerToys. You can now preview Scalable Vector Graphics (.svg) and Markdown (.md) files, with more types of files on the way. Let's see how this works.

SEE: Cheat sheet: Windows 10 PowerToys (free PDF) (TechRepublic) 

Employed by developers, Scalable Vector Graphics image files use a text-based graphics language based on XML to describe images with vector and mixed vector/raster graphics. Markdown files use specific syntax to stylize text with certain attributes and formatting and often show up as readme files for web-based projects.

First, make sure you're using the latest version of Windows 10 PowerToys. If you've already installed it, open the app from the System Tray or Start menu. Scroll down the General Settings screen and click the button to Check For Updates. You're taken to the PowerToys GitHub page pointing to the latest update. If you don't have PowerToys, then just go directly to the GitHub releases page. Download and install the MSI file for the latest version. Open the PowerToys program and make sure the switch is turned on for File Explorer (Figure A).

Figure A


Open File Explorer. Select a common type of file, such as PDF or image. Click the View tab and select Preview Pane. The file is displayed in the Preview Pane (Figure B).

Figure B


Now, download or otherwise obtain an SVG file. Select the file and open the Preview Pane. The file is displayed in the pane (Figure C).

Figure C


Finally, obtain a Markdown file with an .md extension. Select it and open the Preview Pane to display the file (Figure D).

Figure D


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