With the right tools, you don’t need to open a file or its application to view it.
You may work with a lot of different files in Windows — Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, OneNote notebooks, PDF files, graphic files, video files, audio files, and more. Sometimes you need to check out one file after another. That can be time-consuming since it means you need to launch each file’s native application to view it.
Well, not necessarily. There are ways you can view a file without having to launch its application. Here are the five options we’ll be looking at:
- Windows itself offers a preview pane in File Explorer through which you can view a variety of file types.
- A free program called File Viewer Lite can display more than 150 different file types.
- If you need even more options and don’t mind spending some money, File Viewer Plus can display more than 300 different file types at a cost of $39.95.
- Free File Viewer is a simple and free program that can display more than 200 file types.
- Quick View Plus is a robust file viewer, one that can display more than 300 file types. The only downside is the cost: it carries a price tag of $99 a year.
Let’s first check out File Explorer in Windows 10 and 8.1, or Windows Explorer in Windows 7.
- In File Explorer, select a file you wish to view, such as a Microsoft Word document.
- Click on the View Ribbon if it’s not already open.
- Then click on the icon for Preview Pane.
- In Windows Explorer, select the file. Click on the icon on the menu bar to Show the Preview Pane.
- Scroll down the document to read it in full. You’ll see any graphics or other inserted objects, colors, attributes, and special formatting just as if you were viewing the document in Word.
- Preview other types of files, such as Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, PDF files, and graphic files.
- If you want more space to view the file, move your mouse cursor to the separator bar between the file list and Preview Pane and drag it to the left.
- Next, use the Preview Pane to listen to certain types of audio files, such as MP3s. And you can play specific types of video files, such as MP4s.