How To / Software

How To Enable SVG Preview in File Explorer Using PowerToys In Windows

  • PowerToys is a Microsoft utility that can quickly enable SVG file previews in File Explorer.
  • The SVG vectorial format is quickly spreading all over the web.
  • Not all image viewers and operating systems natively support SVG files.

Vectorial images are nothing new, they’ve been around for a while now. They’re mainly used for illustrations and have the advantage of scaling perfectly with resolution while keeping a very small file size.

SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) is one of the most popular vector formats for the web and is currently supported by all important browsers.

Microsoft Windows doesn’t support SVG natively in File Explorer, probably the most used file manager by those who don’t need anything fancy to move files around. I’m a Total Commander fan and it’s one of the most important free system utilities from my point of view, but it’s not for everyone.

Wondering how to open SVG files without installing another dedicated program? You can double-click an SVG file in File Explorer, but it will open in a browser tab in your favorite browser. Most other image formats can be previewed in File Explorer, as you can see below, but not files with the SVG extension.

file explorer no svg preview

There’s even a preview panel that can show a preview for other document formats that can’t be previewed normally if you select to display a folder’s contents as icons for example.

windows file explorer folder layout

Fortunately, some utilities can help with the missing SVG preview support. The one I’m using is called PowerToys (here’s my review), and it’s made by Microsoft. It’s a free download and offers quite a few nifty utilities (you can even remap keyboard keys). A File Explorer extension that acts as an SVG viewer for these vectorial files is one of them.

How to Enable SVG Previews in PowerToys

1. Open PowerToys.

2. Select File Explorer add-ons in the left side menu.

3. Enable the two SVG-related options: for File Explorer Preview Pane and for normal folder view.

microsoft powertoys enable svg previews file explorer

A reboot is required to see SVG file contents in File Explorer. One surprise I had was that upon reboot only the preview pane was showing SVG contents when selected, but not the folder view.

Fix: PowerToys SVG Previews Aren’t Working in Folder View

All you have to do is clear the thumbnail cache. This can be done with another system utility included with Windows: Disk Cleanup.

  1. Open the Start menu.
  2. Type Disk cleanup and press Enter.
  3. Select the C:/ drive and click OK.
  4. Scroll in the Files to delete list and make sure Thumbnails is selected.
  5. Press OK and wait for the cleanup to finish.
windows disk cleanup clear thumbnails

Now open File Explorer again and go to a folder where you have some SVG files. Both the preview panel and the folder area should show SVG file contents instead of a generic icon (your default browser icons usually).

file explorer enable preview pane

That’s it. You can now preview SVG files directly in File Explorer without opening them. In a future article, I’ll show you what PowerToys can do, because it’s pretty capable and can prove handy for a lot of repetitive tasks.

Avatar for Ionuț-Alexandru Popa
I'm a writer and Editor-in-Chief at BinaryFork. I am passionate about technology, science, space exploration, and movies. I started writing about tech more than 20 years ago, after graduating in Computer Science.
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