Outlook PDF Preview error: Root cause PowerToys or Adobe Reader

[German]Microsoft has published information in a support document about problems with the preview of PDF files in Outlook. The PDF preview can fail because of a missing Adobe Reader or because of installed PowerToys, because the associated assignments have been overwritten.


To enable PDF preview in Microsoft Outlook 2016 or other versions, a registered PDF viewer is required. By default, this registration is done when a PDF reader is installed. However, there are always cases where other software overwrites and destroys these mappings in the Windows registry.

The PowerToys are causing trouble

As early as 5 November 2021, there was this GitHub post complaining about conflicts with the feature included in the PowerToys to enable a PDF preview in File Explorer. The statement was that there were problems with the PDF preview under Outlook 2016 because the PDF-XChange PDF preview mode no longer worked. One user wrote:

I found that after disabling the PDF features in PowerToys and uninstalling/reinstalling the PDF viewer software, the PDF preview in Outlook is restored. As soon as I activate the PDF preview in PowerToys, Outlook shows the same error message again.

If Adobe Acrobat DC is used for viewing, one could try repairing the package. However, according to a user report, this does not repair the mappings.

Adobe uninstallation kills PDF previews

There is also a GitHub post dated 13 January 2022 that indicates that PowerToys no longer preview PDF files in Outlook after uninstalling Adobe Acrobat Reader. The affected person gives a detailed description of what happens. The problem also occurs under Office 365.

A support article on the problem

Aaron-Junker then posted a link in the thread to the support article Outlook PDF preview error: This file cannot be previewed because there is no previewer installed for it from 18 March 2022. There Microsoft explains the problem with Outlook. When trying to display a PDF attachment in an email under Outlook, the affected person receives an error message:


This file cannot be previewed because no previewer installed for it.

Outlook PDF Preview Error

According to the statements in the Microsoft support document, the error message occurs in two constellations.

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader is not installed in the same bit width as the Outlook desktop application (i.e. 32- and 64-bit are mixed). This occurs easily because Adobe now installs the 64-bit version of the Reader DC. The remedy is to ensure that the 32- or 64-bit version of Microsoft Outlook and Adobe Acrobat Reader are used respectively.
  • The second source of error is probably the PDF preview module in the PowerToys. If the Microsoft PowerToys are installed, they have overridden the PDF preview setting. The suggested solution is to start the PowerToys and then select the File Explorer Add-ons option and then deactivate the Enable PDF Preview (.pdf) option..

Microsoft gives specific instructions on how to proceed in the support article Outlook PDF preview error: This file cannot be previewed because there is no previewer installed for it. In case of doubt, you can read there what to do. (via)

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