How to preview PDFs in Outlook with single click

preview PDFs in Outlook

How to ensure you can preview PDFs in Microsoft Outlook with single click on a PDF attachment

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 PDF 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. 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:

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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:

  • In Microsoft Outlook, click on File > Options > Trust Center Trust Center Settings, and then select Attachment Handling.
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Note: In Outlook 2007, select Tools > Trust Center > Attachment Handling.

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

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.

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.

2 thoughts on “How to preview PDFs in Outlook with single click

  1. MarkMark

    Foxit PDf preview did work in Outlook, then I took the free trial of Foxit PDF Editor. I subsequently uninstalled the Foxit Editor but the preview did not return to Foxit PDF, there is no option shown in Trust Centre that I can re-assigned a PDF previewer.
    Do you have any ideas to restore Foxit PDF viewer as a default?


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