MacOS users have long enjoyed a simple yet useful feature: Quick Look. It lets you select a file and press the spacebar to see a preview of it. It can be used on almost anything, including videos, PDFs, Word docs, and images. Even better, with the file displayed you can press the arrow keys to cycle through the remaining files in the folder. This makes it easy to quickly find a particular file when it’s lost in a sea of icons. This feature first launched on the Mac in 2007, and now 15 years later Microsoft might add it to Windows 10 and 11. Perhaps it was working on its version in beta all this time.
According to Windows Latest, the feature has already been added to PowerToys in internal builds at Microsoft. It’s called Peek and it performs functionally the same as the MacOS version. With a file selected in Explorer you press Shift+Spacebar to see a preview of it. Once the preview pops up, you have options for what to do next. For images you’ll be able to zoom in and out, and edit them in the Photos app. The site says the feature was created at a “hack week” at the company. It was originally designed as a prototype, but was appreciated enough that it made its way to PowerToys. For the uninitiated, PowerToys is a repository of system utilities made my Microsoft. The company has deemed them too hardcore for noobs, so they’re tucked away for people who know what they’re doing.
As you can see above, Windows Peek looks exactly like MacOS Quick Look. It doesn’t give you a full-screen image, just a small preview. It’s enough to understand what is in the file you’re searching for though. Unlike Quick Look, which is baked into the OS, you’ll need to be running PowerToys in the background to get it to function. Windows Latest points out it’s integrated with the Windows Photos app, but it’s not clear if Peek also works with videos, documents, and other types of media like on the Mac. It should be noted you can already preview files in a pane on the side of Explorer currently, but images are usually the size of postage stamps.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of Microsoft cribbing from Apple lately. Just last week it was reported that Microsoft will also bring tabbed browsing to Windows 11. That has been a mainstay on the Mac platform since 2007, which is the same timeline as Quick Look. Microsoft in general is overhauling Explorer to make working with files and folders easier, and we couldn’t be happier about it. It’s always felt a little antiquated as the years have gone by, as it’s received very little attention from Microsoft. That is, aside from making it harder to use. Case in point: in Windows 11 when you right-click a file you often need to scroll down to “show more options” to get the shortcut you’re looking for. Personal beefs aside, we really hope Microsoft adds this feature to Windows. This along with tabbed browsing will make file management meaningfully easier.