Here's a right little collection of links for you. I should really put them on my list of Programs What I Run.
Anyway. Vista's got this nice preview pane that allows you to see, well, a preview of a selected file. Handy. Naturally enough, not all of your favourite file types are going to be supported out of the box, so here's a list of shell extensions to add that special magic.
Right. I feel a bullet list coming on.
But first things first. There is an MSDN article that showed how to build these extensions in managed code (which is allowed, because they run out of process. Don't run .net shell extensions in-process.) It adds a whole heap of previewers, but since it comes from a developer centric article, it's not exactly user friendly in terms of either installing or documentation. So, download the file, double click to extract it, go into the Installer directory and read the README.txt.
Now, you should have a previewer for:
- .bin and .dat files, treated as binary files
- .csv files displayed in a DataGridView
- .isf files, which appear to be ink files from table pc's
- .msi installer files displaying a list of all the files that might be installed
- .resources files (used to hold strings and images during .net compilation)
- .resx files (an xml based file that becomes a .resources file)
- .snk and .keys files, again used by .net compilation to provide a strong name to an assembly.
- .zip and .gadget. A rather lovely idea - displays a tree view of all the files in a zip based file. Gadget files are also zip files, so are also handled. You could take this further and register it as the previewer for .xpi (Firefox extensions), .jar files, and even .docx (although you might want to keep that one for the proper Word preview handler)
- .pdf, via the Adobe Acrobat ActiveX control
- Finally, there's an Internet Explorer preview handler. This is rather nifty and just displays the file in an IE control. It's registered for xml files (via the "xmlfile" registry key, not .xml. This means it gets anything that identifies itself as a .xml file, such as .rels). It's also registered for .config and an unknown .psq file type (which this link identifies as a "Product Studio Query File" and this link identifies "Product Studio" as a bug tracker within Microsoft). It also handles .xps files, because IE is the default xps viewer.
Now, a bunch of those preview handlers could handle other file types. The IE handler could display, oh, I don't know, html files? The MSDN article does have a sidebar on how to register other file types with existing extensions, but if that's too much of a drag, you can try this association editor.
And that's all from the same guy. What can anyone else add?
- XPS. Microsoft release this competitor to PDF (with much cleaner font rendering, but don't get me started) in Vista, but don't provide a preview handler. This is the official one. Remember to install it after the code from the MSDN article - last install wins!
- If you use Foxit's PDF reader (some swear by it. I swear *at* it less that I do at Adobe), then here's a semi-official but unsupported .pdf previewer.
- Here's one for .psd Photoshop files, not that I'll ever use them, what with not having an artistic bone in my body.
- And a source-code only .dll previewer for .net assemblies. Alternatively, you can have a not-terribly-attractive view of the output of dumpbin.
- .swf files anyone?
- Tim Heuer has created some source code previewers, including .cs, .js, .vb and .sql. Unfortunately no .cpp, .h or .idl. Exercise for the reader, then.
Oh, and these all work in Office 2007 on Vista, too. But not XP. Fortunately, someone has done all the dirty work of back-porting support for Office 2007 on XP. This package also includes most of the preview handlers already mentioned, but with a few more file types registered, such as .html, .htm, etc.