Microsoft PowerToys have fixed a glaring omission from Outlook, Windows and the Edge browser. PowerToys now lets Outlook preview PDF, Markdown and SVG attachments in the Reading Pane.
For too long, the main way to get an Outlook preview of a PDF email attachment was to install the whole Adobe Acrobat Reader software. The same preview works in Windows Explorer.
A PDF preview extra lets Outlook for Windows and Windows Explorer shows the attachment in the Reading or Preview pane.
PowerToys are a set of free additional tools and tweaks for Windows 10 and Windows 11. They’ve been around in various forms since Windows 95. Download them here.
File Explorer add-ons
Just one of the PowerToys is ‘File Explorer add-ons’ which add file previews for three file types.
- PDF .pdf
- SVG – .svg graphics which are supported in Microsoft Office 365
- Markdown .md is a common markup language
PDF preview support was added to PowerToys 0.47 in early October 2021.
Despite all the mentions of ‘File Explorer’, the same previews are available in Outlook for Windows. That makes sense because the preview tech for Explorer is also used to show previews in Outlook.
All you need to do is:
- Install PowerToys
- Enable the Preview Pane options for File Explorer add-ons, see above.
- Restart Outlook
Then just click on an attachment (click past the security notice, if necessary) to quickly see the file in the Reading Pane.
Why wasn’t PDF preview already possible?
Windows has a limited PDF viewer but that doesn’t include preview support for Explorer or Outlook. It’s a mystery why Microsoft hasn’t bothered to provide that obvious and necessary extra.
In Windows 11, PDF viewing (again limited) is provided inside the Edge browser. It seems the Edge development team is focused on the browser and not the extras needed in Windows or Outlook <sigh>.
But there’s more …
Check out the other PowerToys. We particularly like
Color Picker to match colors in documents and slides.
Power Rename lets you bulk rename files with preview of the changes.
Keyboard Manager create keyboard shortcuts or remap keys.