Fix: File Explorer Preview Pane Not Working on Windows 11

Check out how our experts fixed things in no time

by Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
Matthew is a freelancer who has produced a variety of articles on various topics related to technology. His main focus is the Windows OS and all the things... read more
Reviewed by Alex Serban
Alex Serban
Alex Serban
Windows Server & Networking Expert
After moving away from the corporate work-style, Alex has found rewards in a lifestyle of constant analysis, team coordination and pestering his colleagues. Holding an MCSA Windows Server... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • The File Explorer preview pane not working in Windows 11 can be due to corrupted system files or misconfigured Explorer settings.
  • Your primary approach should be to eliminate or replace the corrupt system files to fix things.
  • Many users got things up and running by restoring defaults, so try that as well.

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File Explorer’s preview pane usually displays expanded thumbnail previews of selected files in a sidebar. However, many users reported that the Preview Pane in File Explorer is not working on Windows 11.

If the File Explorer preview pane is not working, it shows a No preview available or File not found message. So let’s find out how you can fix things in no time.

How can I enable the File Explorer preview pane?

  1. Open File Explorer from the taskbar.
    File Explorer button file explorer preview pane not working windows 11
  2. Click View on the command bar, and select the Show submenu.
    Show submenu file explorer preview pane not working windows 11
  3. Make sure that Preview pane is enabled here.
    Preview pane option file explorer preview pane not working windows 11

If you don’t see the preview pane when a file is selected, then it might not be enabled. So, first, check that before you proceed with the troubleshooting.

However, users need to fix the preview pane when it’s not displaying any previews for common document and image formats. If your preview pane isn’t showing previews, apply these resolutions.

How can I fix File Explorer’s preview pane not working in Windows 11?

Before we start making changes to solve the problem, try these quick fixes:

If these didn’t work, the solutions listed next would.

1. Make sure preview handlers are enabled

  1. Press Windows + E to open File Explorer, and click the See more button.
    See more menu file explorer preview pane not working windows 11
  2. Select Options to view a File Explorer Options window.
  3. Click View to access Advanced settings, and check the Show preview handlers option.
    Show preview handlers file explorer preview pane not working windows 11
  4. Next, uncheck the Always show icons, never thumbnails setting there.
  5. Once done, click Apply and then OK to save the new settings.
    Apply and OK options file explorer preview pane not working windows 11

Check if the preview pane in File Explorer on Windows 11 now starts working. In case the problem persists, head to the next solution.

2. Restart the Windows Explorer process

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open the Task Manager.
  2. Scroll down, locate the Windows Explorer process, and select it.
    Windows Explorer process file explorer preview pane not working windows 11
  3. Finally, click the Restart option near the bottom-right.
    The Restart button file explorer preview pane not working windows 11

3. Restore default File Explorer settings

  1. Press Windows + E to open File Explorer, click on the ellipsis, and choose Options from the flyout menu.folder options
  2. Click Restore Defaults on the General tab.
    The Restore Defaults button file explorer preview pane not working windows 11
  3. Then switch to the View tab, and click the Restore Defaults option there.
    The Restore Defaults buttonfile explorer preview pane not working windows 11
  4. Select Apply to save changed settings, and click OK to exit.

Once done, verify whether the Preview Pane in File Explorer is still not working in Windows 11. Though that should not be the case for most, if it is, move to the last solution.

4. Remove # symbols from file names

Note icon
NOTE
This resolution is more specifically confirmed to fix the preview pane not showing PDF file previews. In that case, the preview pane shows a File not found message for selected PDFs.
  1. Open the folder that contains any files with the hash (#) symbol in their names.
  2. Right-click on such files and select Rename.
    The Rename option file explorer preview pane not working windows 11
  3. Delete all # symbols from the file’s names.
  4. Similarly, remove # from every file’s name here.

File Explorer’s preview pane probably isn’t its most essential feature. However, it’s still a convenient feature that shows you what files look like when it works right.

Once you have managed to fix things, do not forget to check the best ways to make Windows 11 faster.

Tell us which fix worked, and share any queries in the comments below.

Still experiencing issues?

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If the above suggestions have not solved your problem, your computer may experience more severe Windows troubles. We suggest choosing an all-in-one solution like Fortect to fix problems efficiently. After installation, just click the View&Fix button and then press Start Repair.

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