David Szpunar: Lead Engineer, PC Help Services

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April 1st, 2007 at 12:10 pm Print This Post Print This Post

Outlook 2007 PDF Preview

(For current known solutions to this problem, see the Updates below! Thanks for visiting and making this my most popular post ever, even over a year later!)

If you’re running Outlook 2007, you’ve likely noticed that you can’t preview PDF files sent to you as attachments, while you can preview most images and Office documents. Fortunately, Ryan Gregg, someone who works on the Outlook team at Microsoft, has released an add-in on his blog to let you preview those PDFs! It uses Adobe’s Reader ActiveX control, so it’s genuine Adobe doing the previewing. I’ve installed this and it seems to work well; I get quotes from our primary supplier as PDF attachments all the time and this will come in very handy indeed. I installed the add-in while Outlook 2007 was still running and was able to preview a PDF attachment as soon as the install completed, no restarts. YMMV.

Update in August 2007: Adobe Reader 8.1 has PDF Previewing built-in, so Ryan Gregg has pulled the add-in down off his site.

Update in April 2008: This post is still very popular, so here’s an update: If you don’t want to install Adobe Reader 8.1 to get Outlook 2007 PDF Preview support, there is also the free Foxit PDF Preview Handler which uses the very lightweight and fast Foxit Reader software to preview PDFs in Outlook 2007. The original version is for Office on Windows Vista only, but last month the author wrote a Foxit Preview version for Windows XP as well! I use the Foxit Previewer myself as well as the full Foxit Reader for reading PDF files, and I am able to keep Adobe Reader from being installed on my two main computers! Foxit opens much faster than Adobe Reader in my experience, and has caused much fewer browser crashes as well! Thanks to Jason Powell for his excellent writeup and pointer to the Foxit Previewer, I may have gotten my original link to it from him (not sure right now).