PDF Preview Handler for Outlook/Vista

If you're running Windows Vista, or Outlook 2007 on either Vista or Windows XP, you're probably wondering just how long you have to wait until you can use the preview capabilities of your new operation system or Outlook client to view PDF documents.

While I still haven't seen an official solution to the problem from Adobe or any of the other typical PDF reader component companies, I have found a few answers online.  There are a couple of different downloads that will solve your problems, depending on the PDF reader you favor.

  • Foxit: Tim Heuer has partnered with Foxit software to create Foxit PDF Preview Handler, which works with Foxit Reader.
  • Acrobat: I've created a similar freeware component that works with Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.x or later.  If you favor using Adobe Acrobat, take a look at my PDF Preview Handler.

If you know of another solution to the problem, add a comment here so other users can find a solution for their PDF previewing problems.

Comments (22)

  1. Thanks Ryan this is great!  I installed the FoxIt version by Tim Heuer on both of my machines and it works great.

  2. A.J. says:

    The one that you created for Acrobat works great! I’ve been looking for something for PDFs which would work with Adobe since I started testing Office and Vista last year.  Thanks!

  3. timheuer says:

    just an FYI, the foxit one doesn’t require *any* reader to be installed — or even if you have adobe reader you can still use the foxit one as well — it is completely isolated from any pdf reader…that’s what i liked about foxit.  with adobe, you only get the control when you install their reader 🙁

  4. I have installed Adobe Acrobat 8 and everything works just fine. I have thumbnails for PDF files and the search works great. Though I am happy to see that there’s an easier and cheaper solution for that

  5. James Hill says:

    The Acrobat version works PERFECTLY with Outlook 2007 + XP Pro.  Just what I needed! Thanks!

  6. James Hill says:

    The Acrobat version works PERFECTLY with Outlook 2007 + XP Pro.  Just what I needed! Thanks!

  7. Quartz says:

    Check Photoshop files(PSD) Preview Handler for Windows Vista here


  8. slide says:

    Are you planning on writing up anything on the development of Preview Handlers? I’ve found some examples for Vista specifically (doesn’t require a local COM server), but nothing good that will work in XP as well.

  9. Leo Johnson says:

    Thank you… I handle a large amont of PDF’s and now that I can use the native OS’s file browser… well you made my life simpler


    (all caps)

  10. Vaibhav says:

    Gil Azar has implemented a bunch of Handlers for Windows XP here: http://www.azarfamily.org/previewhandlersforwindowsxp

  11. pgk says:

    I like the idea, but I have a dual install of Adobe Acrobat Reader V8 and Acrobat Full V6 on my machine. For some reason the PDF preview handler install tells me "you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed before installing the PDF Preview Handler (Yes/No)". Not sure how to get past this. I tried Repairing Acrobat Reader 8, to no avail. Any suggestions, short of uninstalling V6? -pgk

  12. rgregg says:


    The installer is looking for HKEY_CLASSES_ROOTAcroPDF.PDF.  If that key does’t exist, the installer fails.  I’ve heard some other people report this issue as well.  Typically if you fully uninstall the Acrobat Reader, and then install it again, the regkey is fixed up and you can install.  For some reason, the repair doesn’t fix the issue.

  13. pgk says:

    Thanks. Actually it looks like there’s a problem for users who like to view PDFs outside Ineternet Explorer. A full reinstall of Acrobat Reader 8 indeed fixed it, but after going back to my preferred Reader setting  (Edit > Preferences > Ineternet > Do not display PDF in browser) the email PRD preview also stopped working, giving a nice list of error messages in the email window. Updating the Reader preferences to "Display PDF in browser" fixed it again. Can you think of a workaround for this, or is PDF viewing outside IE7 indeed completely incompatible with PDF preview in email? Either way, thanks for developing this. -pgk

  14. pgk says:

    Now if I could fix those typos I would. Legend: PRD=PDF, and Ineternet = Internet. Can/did anyone reproduce this issue? -pgk

  15. Ronin says:


    Thanks for the PDF previewer (Adobe solution). There is a minor glitch though. When I preview PDFs in Windows Explorer, it works great, but as soon as I close the Explorer window, Windows gives a message saying "PDF preview handler has stopped working".

    Is this a bug? or is there any way of getting rid of this message?

    Thanks for this great tool.

  16. rgregg says:

    I’ve been trying to track down the source of that bug, but I can’t get it to repro on any computer I have access to.  Are you using Acrobat Reader, or do you have the full Adobe Acrobat product installed?

  17. pgk says:

    Perhaps I’m one of the unlucky few. I have both Acrobat Full V6 and Reader V8 installed, which may be the problem. I’ll list the error message below, but admittedly this ‘mixed install’ causes issues. For example, in Reader V8 I have ‘display PDF in browser’ checked in the preferences right now, but the PDFs open in a separate Acrobat window when using IE7. That’s clearly not your problem. Just in case you do spot something that’s fixable, in the ‘present state’ I get the following error messages in the Email preview window (see below). Hope this helps/hope you can help! Thanks for checking back, and i won’t be upset if you let this one go. -pgk


    System.IO.FileNotFoundException: The specified module could not be found. (Exception from HRESULT: 0x8007007E)

      at System.Windows.Forms.UnsafeNativeMethods.CoCreateInstance(Guid& clsid, Object punkOuter, Int32 context, Guid& iid)

      at System.Windows.Forms.AxHost.CreateWithoutLicense(Guid clsid)

      at System.Windows.Forms.AxHost.CreateWithLicense(String license, Guid clsid)

      at System.Windows.Forms.AxHost.CreateInstanceCore(Guid clsid)

      at System.Windows.Forms.AxHost.CreateInstance()

      at System.Windows.Forms.AxHost.GetOcxCreate()

      at System.Windows.Forms.AxHost.TransitionUpTo(Int32 state)

      at System.Windows.Forms.AxHost.CreateHandle()

      at System.Windows.Forms.Control.CreateControl(Boolean fIgnoreVisible)

      at System.Windows.Forms.Control.CreateControl(Boolean fIgnoreVisible)

      at System.Windows.Forms.AxHost.EndInit()

      at PdfPreviewHandler.ControlPreviewer.AddPreviewControl()

      at PdfPreviewHandler.ControlPreviewer.LoadFile(String fileName, STGM fileMode)

      at PdfPreviewHandler.FormPreviewSurface.LoadFile(String file, STGM fileMode)

  18. Ronin says:

    Hi Ryan,

    In reply to your question above, I just have the Adobe Reader 8 installed.

    On the other hand, Foxit previewer works fine, but well, there are some problems with it… quality as well as incorrect scaling. I would really like to use the Adobe  version (I was using this one on my XP earlier).

  19. James Miller says:

    FYI – Acrobat Reader 8.1 includes an Outlook Previewer, Windows Search filter, and explorer icon preview extension… finally!

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