10 Things - Windows Explorer Has a New Preview Pane

Posted by Nick White on Friday, July 13, 2007 4:39 AM 13 Comments

Happy Friday the 13th!

Continuing in the vein of maximizing your Windows Vista experience via little-known pointers:  Although you've probably already noticed Internet Explorer's Quick Tabs and Preview Pane, you may not be aware that Windows Explorer also has its own Preview Pane that extends beyond the live icons you may have noticed when navigating folders in Windows Explorer.  Different than Windows XP's individual menus, toolbars, Navigation Pane and Task Panes, Windows Vista has merged them all into a single interface -- take a look:

The Windows Explorer Preview Pane lets you preview the contents of all media or documents in a file without opening the individual file itself.  The Document Explorer, Music Explorer and Picture Explorer all provide an optional Preview Pane.

If a program supports this feature (such as Office 2007), you'll be able to browse views of various docs or a couple of seconds of media content without even opening the file.  And you can edit those docs without opening the file!  Imagine being able to quickly run through all those PowerPoint presentations you have stored in your Documents folder and determining the exact one you want without opening each file to find out which is which.  Talk about boosting your productivity!


Posted by Chiong

How can we add the support of other file formats such as .ini file and .inf file?


Posted by someone

So many users seem to want back the toolbar customization ability back in Windows Explorer and IE. Please MS, have you considered adding full toolbar customizability (custom buttons and reordering them, reordering toolbar placement/layout, locking and unlocking toolbars?)


Posted by Neil Bayin

I got a question related to VISTA search thing, wonder if anyone can help me, Also, I know this is not QnA place, so, if it's not appropriate, you can delete it.

Here is the problem I have:

I am using Windows VISTA Home Premium on my laptop, want to install PHP on IIS7 recently, so I login as a normal user, installed PHP 5.2.3 under C:\php, copy the php.ini file into C:\Windows and delete any other copy. Start IIS7 and everything look good.

Here is the real problem, when I use Ultraedit to edit the PHP.ini file and save it, restart IIS, nothing seems changed. The PHP still using old configuration. I use instant search, type php.ini, there are actually two php.ini listed, one is under Programs, and the other is listed under Files, I right click on the one listed under Programs, use Notepad to open it, now the wired thing is Notepad shows the old content of php.ini! I change it again and try to save it, notepad prompt me c:\windows\php.ini cannot be created.

So, I did this several times, everytime, Ultraedit shows the new contents and notepad always show the old content.

I finally solved this issue by run ultraedit as Administrator, this time, ultraedit showed the old content, and I can change and save it.

I wonder if anyone can help me figure it out what really happened, thanks!


Posted by The MAZZTer

Neil: Normal users cannot write to C:\Windows.  I believe when you moved PHP.INI there you did so as an elevated Administrator.  But when you edited the file, you did so as a user, and so either:

1) the file was not properly saved and the changes were discarded

2) the file was saved in your Users folder (search for the WINDOWS folder in there) so that the changes would be visible to you, but not to other users including the one IIS7 and PHP were running as.  It's a new Vista "feature" to allow for legacy apps which try to write to now-protected locations.

I'm guessing it was #2.


Posted by mikestre

I don't see any menu option in Windows Explorer which offers a preview.


Posted by BillD

mikestre, it's on the toolbar:

Organize -> Layout



Posted by MaryBranscombe

Turning this on and off is just that bit too hard; it's Organise > Layout ? Preview pane and that's a pain to select. There are some folders I just don't want this on for and Vista doesn't seem to remember the settting on a per folder basis. Please can we have an icon for the toolbar that we can add to turn it on and off - like the panning hand. The preview is also very slow as the system builds the thumbnail for anything other than pictures. An excellent but v1 feature.


Posted by mikestre

Thanks for that. Not very intuitive though !


Posted by newscientist2000

I agree with "someone" Internet Explorer 7 is not customizable enough, so me and my wife are staying with IE6 for now.  Ironically Firefox is so customizable that you can make the latest version look almost identical to Internet Explorer 6 or 7.

IE is still my browser of choice, but it does need to be more cutomizable before I will upgrade.... or a killer app that requires IE7 will have to come out.


Posted by shollomon

I am delighted at the near universal response here that IE7 lacks sufficient customization options.  My $.02 are as follows:

1)  Bring back the ability to put icons on the explorer bar, make the file menu fully customizable etc.

2)  Make the tab bar be just a tab bar and give us the option to have it visible only when multiple tabs are open.

3)  Give us the ability to accept self signed certificates permanently and easily, like Firefox does.

IE is almost as good as Firefox after IEPro addins are installed so that it has things like an ad blocker.  But its lack of configurability and no easy way to accept sefl signed certificates keep me using Firefox.  If I really need IE (seldom) I use the Firefox plugin IE Tab to display a page using the IE engine in the Firefox framework.  Works great.


Posted by modicr


AFAIK it is bot possible to put menu on top of the window in Windows Explorer (OTOH, this is possible in IE7: http://www.dslreports.com/forum/remark,16040352 ). Will it be possible in Vista SP1?

Thanks, Roman


Posted by stephensaw

Still not support animated GIF huh.


Posted by StophVista

Bring back the file types tab under folder options too! The existing file association modifier doesn't allow for customization, only changing the program associated with a file.

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About Nick White

I'm a Product Manager at Microsoft working on the Windows Vista launch team. I also work with key influencers in our user community. This means I get to do cool stuff, play with lots of electronic toys, travel the world, and blog about it at the same time. I know you're jealous ;)
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