How to disable Preview pane in File Explorer

To let the add-in work correctly, prevent Excel from crashing, & avoid other issues

The Preview pane in Windows Explorer is a headache for a lot of Excel users, but most of them don't even know about it. Excel may just quietly crash or warn that some workbooks are already open in another application, or work slowly, or refuse to run any add-ins. In general, nothing says that the cause of the problem is this pane.

One can find plenty of discussion on the Web about the troubles this pane causes starting from Office 2007. A bunch of bug reports has been sent to Microsoft, but the problem has not been solved. Thus, we recommend turning the Preview Pane off to avoid unpleasant surprises it may bring you.

Open File Explorer

Note. If you have numerous File Explorers opened, close all of them except for one.

There are several ways to open File Explorer:

  • Press Win + E on your keyboard.
  • Click the File Explorer icon on the taskbar (normally, it is in the bottom left corner near the Start button):
    The File Explorer shortcut on the taskbar.
  • If you like it more complicated or the previous ways didn't work for any reasons, you can use Windows Search. Click the Start button in the bottom left corner and type in File Explorer:
    Open File Explorer.

Turn Preview Pane off

In File Explorer, click on the View tab. In the Panes group, you will see the Preview pane icon. In the screenshot below, the Preview Pane in enabled, as seen by the blue background it has and the field on the right:
Go to the View tab.
To disable the Preview Pane, simply click it once. Also, you can use the Alt + P shortcut.

Note. If you use Windows 7, find the Organize group, open the Layout context menu, and click Preview Pane. Find a more detailed instruction for Windows 7 here.

Now the Preview Pane is disabled and you can proceed to work with Ablebits tools:
Preview Pane is disabled.


Dear Ablebits
every time I am this Preview Pane is enabled ., followed your instructions but still error pop up all time ., please help me to solve this permanently


Dear Imran,
Thank you for contacting us.

Our support team specialist has just replied to you via email. Please provide us with the requested details.
We'll do our best to help you.



I am having constant message poping up "preview panel is enabled". Can you please help solve this problem.


Hello Sonal,
Thank you for contacting us.

We have just replied to you in an email, please check your Spam/Junk/Trash email folders if you still don’t see our email in your Inbox.


I tried to compare two worksheets. However, each time, it does not let me do it. There is a pop-up window stated : " Sorry, the add-in cannot be run because the Preview pane is enabled in your windows explorer and is currently showing an Excel workbook.
Please disable the Preview pane by following the instruction that will open in a moment.

Then it linked me to your website :

But my screen doesn't show like what instructed on the website.
Please help me to resolve the problem. Otherwise I can use the function.


Katerina Bespalaya says:
June 21, 2019 at 11:06 am

Hello Lina,

Sorry to hear that you are having difficulties of this kind. Can you please send us a screenshot of your File (Windows) Explorer window to Thank you.

Francisco Leyva says:
July 4, 2019 at 11:21 am

I have exactly the same problems as Mary. Followed your instructions and the error message still appears. Help!

Katerina Bespalaya says:
July 5, 2019 at 10:55 am

Hello Francisco,

For us to be able to help you better, please tell us what Ablebits tool you use and describe in detail the steps you follow before the error message appears. Please also send us a screenshot of the message you're getting and a screenshot of your File (Windows) Explorer window to Our technical specialists will provide you with further instructions. Thank you.


Preview Pane disabled yet an alert saying that it is enabled is popping up. Please help.


Hello Mai,
Thank you for contacting us.

We have just replied to you via an email. Please provide us with the requested information and we’ll do our best to help. Thank you.

Subrajyoti Sukla Baidya says:
November 14, 2019 at 4:21 am

Thank you soo much _/\_

Anu A Varghese says:
December 15, 2019 at 4:51 am

I have disabled preview pane still getting error msg.

Katerina Bespalaya says:
December 16, 2019 at 11:40 am

Hello Anu,

Please send us a screenshot of the error message you're getting to We'll help you further. Thank you.


disabling the preview pane by pressing Alt-P does not get rid of the preview pane, it only prevents FILES from being SHOWN in the preview pane. The pane is still there, just empty, taking up an obnoxious wide amount of the window space....



Thank you for your comment. The Alt+P shortcut works great for disabling the Preview Pane in File Explorer. If it doesn't work for you, please tell us what version of Windows do you have and send us the screenshots of your File Explorer before and after you hit Alt+P to so that we could see how it works for you. Thank you.

Baban Eulaiwi says:
June 9, 2020 at 12:59 pm

I have disabled preview pane still getting error msg.



Could you please send us a screenshot of the error message you're getting to We'll do our best to help you.


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