What are Ways to Preview PDFs in Outlook with Single Click

July 31, 2023 4.7K views

Usually, if you receive an email message with a PDF attachment in Microsoft Outlook, you can simply click it once to preview it in the Reading Pane without downloading it. That’s because File Preview is typically on by default in Microsoft Outlook and all other Office applications.

If you’re using Outlook 2013 or later, you can simply click on the attachment to preview the PDF.

Method to Preview PDF in Outlook

However, if you’re using an older version of Outlook, you’ll need to install a third-party previewer like Foxit. Foxit is a free PDF editor that makes it easy to preview PDFs right in Outlook. Simply download and install Foxit, then open the PDF attachment in Outlook.

Foxit will automatically launch and display the PDF preview.

Below are the step-by-steps to get this done:

You may find yourself in a situation, however, in which that normal operation is no longer working. Instead, when you single-click on a PDF attachment in Microsoft Outlook, nothing happens.

And you can’t preview the PDF attachment in the Reading Pane. Instead, you’ll be required to download a PDF attachment in Outlook to view it.

If that’s not the workflow you want, here are the most likely ways to fix it.

Solution #1: disable the “Turn off Attachment Preview” feature in Microsoft Outlook

When you have this error occurring, it may be caused by the “Turn off Attachment Preview” being enabled in the Trust Center in Microsoft Outlook.

The Trust Center is where you can find security and privacy settings for Microsoft Office programs. With the consistent appearance of the ribbon in Office programs, steps to find the Trust Center are the same for each program. Even with Microsoft Outlook. The following is an example in Microsoft Word:

Step 1: In Microsoft Outlook, click on File > Options > Trust Center > Trust Center Settings, and then select Attachment Handling.

Step 2: In Outlook 2007, select Tools > Trust Center > Attachment Handling.

Step 3: Uncheck the checkbox for Turn off Attachment Preview, and then click OK.

Solution #2: if the Reading Pane isn’t showing at all, make sure it’s enabled

While you can’t turn off file preview as it’s on by default, if you don’t see the Reading Pane, it may have been hidden accidentally. In order to fix this, do the following:

Step 1: To turn on the Reading Pane:  On the View tab, in the Layout group, select Reading Pane, and then select Right or Bottom for where you want the Reading Pane to show.

Step 2: If neither of these solutions is getting you the results you want, you’ll probably need to contact Microsoft Office support to get to the bottom of the issue.

Preview a PDF Attachment in Microsoft Outlook

When installed on Microsoft Windows Vista or later, Nitro Pro automatically integrates into Microsoft Outlook (version 2007 onwards) to enable a visual preview of a PDF file contained in an email as an attachment.

To Preview a PDF File Attachment in Outlook:

Step 1: In Outlook, open some email that contains a PDF attachment

Step 2: Click once on the PDF attachment to select it, and observe a Preview file button appear in the message body

Step 3: Click Preview file to see a preview of the PDF attachment. Use the page view options to adjust the view:

Preview a PDF File in Windows Explorer

Just as we previewed a PDF attachment in an email, it is possible to preview the content of a PDF document in Windows Explorer when Nitro Pro is installed on Windows Vista or later.

Icons associated with PDF files in the main pane of Windows Explorer show a preview of the PDF file, which is based on the first page of the PDF document.

This icon preview also applies to the icon in the summary pane at the bottom of the Windows Explorer window.


Q1: How do I automatically preview a PDF in Outlook?

Ans: You can turn on/off the feature to preview files in Outlook. To do so, go to Outlook>File>Options>Trust Center>Trust Center Settings>Attachment Handling. To turn off attachment previewers, simply tap Turn off Attachment Preview.

Q2: How do I use Preview in Outlook?

Ans: Display a message preview in the message list. To quickly scan your Inbox, try Message Preview, where you can choose to display between one and three lines of each message in the message list, along with the sender's name and the subject line. On the View tab, select Message Preview, and then choose an option.

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15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.