Windows 11 File Explorer

Your File Explorer is home to your photos, videos, documents, spreadsheets, and more. On both Windows 10 and Windows 11, we can view some of those files quickly and easily without having to open their linked apps. This is possible with File Explorer’s preview panel which appears on the right side of the screen.

For those unaware, you can try the preview pane in the Windows File Explorer by clicking on the “View” tab. When you’re in the View tab, you need to select the Preview pane and then click on a file you wish to view. If the file format is supported, you will be able to view the preview of the file within the Explorer itself.

With PowerToys, Microsoft has been testing add-ons for File Explorer to extend the default capabilities of the preview pane. The existing PowerToys extension adds the ability to preview SVG and markdown files, which is particularly handy for programmers and web developers.

Microsoft is now planning to take the File Explorer preview experience to the next level with a new extension.

Right now, File Explorer has limited support for text file formats. There are many text files that cannot be previewed in the Preview pane and this particularly affects the files used by developers.

File Explorer preview panel

As you can see in the above screenshot, Microsoft is planning to integrate Monaco editor’s file preview capability into the File Explorer’s preview pane. For those unaware, Monaco is a popular code editor for VS code and PowerToys will be using it to easily apply the text preview to a large number of file types.

Explorer preview pane

Thanks to the collaboration between independent developer Aaron Junker and Microsoft, this feature is already under development. This would allow you to preview nearly all popular text-related file formats in the File Explorer of Windows 11 or Windows 10.

Additionally, Microsoft is planning to add right-click menu item “Use text preview for files of this type” to Windows. For developers, Microsoft says it will use VS Code for previewing service to allow for syntax highlighting.

Beyond helping you preview your own files, this new PowerToys module could pave way for advanced Preview panel integrations. At one point, you will be able to view unknown files, which is particularly helpful when you don’t know which Windows apps include support for such a file.

In addition to the new File Explorer extension, Microsoft PowerToys recently received support for a utility that lets you easily mute and unmute your mic/camera with a keyboard shortcut.

Microsoft is also experimenting with Windows 11-like design for different areas of PowerToys. Tools like Power Rename and PowerToys settings have already received the makeover, and additional design improvements are expected in the next major release.