All computer users would like to become as productive as possible in their use of technology. This series of articles covers new features of modern platforms and describes how you can become more efficient in using it. The first article in the series is about Windows 7 and how you can become more effective managing your files.
There is an extremely helpful feature that was introduced in Windows 7 by Microsoft: the Preview Pane helps you quickly preview different type of documents in Windows Explorer. It will help to save you time when browsing and previewing files of the various types. To initiate this feature open up Windows Explorer and navigate to any folder of your choice, where different documents are located. Once inside the folder the preview can be initiated by the simple keyboard shortcut ALT+P. Preview supports a large number of file extensions for preview – a much bigger list than previous versions of Windows.
Another way to get to the preview mode is to use the menu in Windows Explorer and enable it via Organize->Layout->Preview pane. But for faster access, just hit ALT+P on the keyboard to show or hide the pane.
The big advantage of the Preview Pane compared to the traditional windows mechanisms for Preview is its ability to preview multiple file types located in the same folder.
You can preview email messages, images, documents, pdf files, rich text format files, xml files and even video files without opening them in the program. The preview pane can be resized for a more detailed view as shown in the image below. This is very handy for images and videos, since the previews are much larger than the thumbnail views. You can zoom in the pictures and play the videos as part of your preview process. You can also play audio files from within the preview pane. If the document contains multiple pages you can use the scroll bar on the right to preview the documents by scrolling.
You can click on the document specific menu in the upper left corner of the screen to select the additional actions you can do with the file. For example, for images you can open them with MSPaint, Picture Viewer Photo Editor and Adobe Photoshop (see menu choices below).
To enable preview for some file types you have to have the program installed (e.g., Microsoft Office, Microsoft Excel or Acrobat Reader), and some files also just don’t preview even if it is installed (e.g., Microsoft Office OneNote)
Once enabled, Preview Pane stays open and you can browse multiple different files in your folder. To disable the Preview pane you can use the menu in Windows explorer or click ALT+P again.