Windows Vista has a new technology inbuilt called Windows Preview. Using this you can preview any file right there in the Explorer preview pane as long as you have a compatible plug-in installed.
However if you are like me, then you don’t have the preview pane turned on because it takes some desktop real estate. Now, we still have live preview of Images right there in Explorer but they are small. What if we want to preview them without opening any application which is associated with it like Windows Photo Gallery?
I present you Windows Viewer for Windows Vista. It does what it is supposed to do, just shows a preview of the file in a new window which you can exit out using escape key or just click outside anywhere or use the close button. You can set this preview to be full screen or any size you want by dragging from any side.
To activate Windows Viewer, just click on a file & press Spacebar, it will open it instantly. By default various image, audio & video formats are supported out of the box & if you have Adobe Reader 8.1 installed you can also preview PDF Files right there in Viewer.
Suppose you are in a folder with many files of different type, you can simply activate Viewer then use the toolbar arrows to navigate to any file in Viewer or just press keyboard left or right to go to next file or previous file. This is how a normal Image preview looks like in Viewer. You can navigate back or forward & zoom it or zoom out. You can also make it full screen by maximizing it.
Same goes with Document View, here I have opened a multipage PDF but it doesn’t matter what document you open be it Word Document, Excel Spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation, it will show the page thumbnails in the sidebar using which you can navigate to any page you want. You can zoom in & zoom out too, also just click on the page thumbnails to navigate to that page. To go to any other file in that folder which can be seen in Viewer just use the toolbar arrows. This how document preview looks like.
When it comes to previewing Audio Files, well..just select & press spacebar. It will pop open a Audio preview of that single file at one time only. Either press escape or close the window or leave the Viewer & it will continue playing the audio file unless you start to see preview of some other file or close it manually.
When you try to preview a video, the viewer gives u the same tool as before. usign the keyboard left right arrows or the toolbar arrows you can switch the viewer to show a preview of another file in the same folder. This is handy if you have a folder with multiple Videos or Images, just one of them then click on the arrows or use keyboard arrow to switch to the next image.
If you try to preview an Archive file such as RAR or Zip, well…although the size & extension etc is different but inside they all look same. You simply get the toolbar arrow for navigating to the next file in the folder where u activated the preview & an extract button which when clicked, extracts the files in the same folder where the archive is, making a new folder which has the same name as the archive.