Windows 11 experimental feature lets you preview all kinds of files without opening them

Polycount

Posts: 3,011   +589
Staff member
Something to look forward to: Microsoft and Apple might be bitter rivals in most respects, but that doesn't mean they aren't each willing to accept that the other might have some good ideas now and again. Take Microsoft's upcoming PowerToys feature called Peek, for example. Reports claim that it's essentially a Windows version of macOS "Quick Look" that lets you preview files in a snap by hitting the spacebar.

If you don't use an Apple machine, Quick Look allows macOS fans to swiftly preview files by pressing the spacebar when one is highlighted and selected. This is tremendously useful for sorting through large groups of similarly-named text documents, but it can be used for media files as well.

Quick Look also allows users to zoom in and out on a file, resize its preview window, rotate it, mark it up (with basic drawing and editing tools), view multiple selected items in a grid, and even share the file directly from your machine.

Quick Look has been part of macOS for years now, with the first iteration arriving way back in 2007 as part of the macOS X 10.5 Leopard release. With that in mind, it's a bit of a surprise that it has taken Microsoft so long to design something similar. After all, Quick Look is optional and can be ignored if users prefer not to take advantage of it.

Regardless, Peek will work almost exactly the same as older versions of Quick Look: you press shift + spacebar with a file selected to preview it. However, more powerful functionality like editing, grid viewing, and file-sharing will reportedly not be available with Peek's first PowerToys release.

Microsoft PowerToys is a suite of useful but experimental Windows features that don't ship with the OS' normal public builds. Peek, in particular, will apparently be exclusive to Windows 11 versions of PowerToys, but we don't know exactly when it will release.

Notably, this isn't the first time PowerToys has borrowed ideas from macOS. The experimental "PowerToys Run" tool was inspired by macOS unique Spotlight feature, though the exact functionality differs (with the latter being more powerful overall).

Image credit: Windows Latest

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Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 694   +1,089
Hummm....what's wrong with just doubling clicking and actually opening the file?
If it’s anything like the Mac feature, previewing is more useful when looking for a file, ie. scrolling through a whole list of files to see what’s inside instead of only looking at the name. For example PDF’s, PowerPoint, or Word documents
 

BadThad

Posts: 1,033   +1,186
I can
If done well (as it's on the Mac today), previewing a photo/PDF/word document/etc. takes less than 1 second. You hit the spacebar to open/close and it's super handy.
OK, so I can open the file in 1.5 seconds on a modern PC. Enjoy your extra half second! :)
 

BadThad

Posts: 1,033   +1,186
If it’s anything like the Mac feature, previewing is more useful when looking for a file, ie. scrolling through a whole list of files to see what’s inside instead of only looking at the name. For example PDF’s, PowerPoint, or Word documents
I name my files - no need to preview, I know what they are just by the name. :)
 

quadibloc

Posts: 357   +239
Obviously, to show a preview of a file, the content of the file must be accessed.
So the file is not being previewed without being opened for reading.
It is previewed without launching an application to open the file, but the operating system still opens the file.
 

ferrellsl

Posts: 68   +64
Windows 95 had something similar called Quick View.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quick_View
Yeah, but the Apple fanatic who wrote this story had to give MacOS undue credit as being first. Apple fanatics just can't help themselves. It's literally a compulsive mental illness. I know a few of them who still claim that the Mac had the first GUI in spite of the fact that Xerox was doing a GUI in the 1970's.
 

trgz

Posts: 392   +151
Jeez, having a preview pane is such an old Windows feature that I'd forgotten about it (it was in 95 IIRC). My Windows 10 still seems to do it but maybe its a feature of Classic Start Menu (?) as I cannot comment on a vanilla W10.
 

Aaron Fox

Posts: 153   +90
Hummm....what's wrong with just doubling clicking and actually opening the file?
It's extremely inefficient for some important use cases.

For instance, if you're trying to find a particular photo but don't know the name of the file it's vastly faster to put the Mac Finder into gallery mode than it is to find the file by scrolling through in a more traditional mode like list, icon, and even column. It's even more superior versus having to manually open files, which one has to do with list and icon modes.

The amount of time, energy, and manual labor required is drastically smaller via gallery mode for that particular use case.

For examining individual photos to decide which one to choose (such as when choosing between many candidates of various files in a folder with many different selection sets needing choices) the column view is optimal. That also often entails not having to manually open the files. The color labeling function comes in well, preventing the person from even having to manually move the chosen files to a new location much of the time — which is a more cumbersome operation as compared to selecting a color label.
 
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