PDF previews under Vista x64

I use Outlook 2007 and love it. I use Windows Vista x64 and love it. But the combination has one annoying, longstanding bug: The Adobe PDF previewer is broken.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work: If you have installed Acrobat Reader 8.1 (or any edition of  the full Acrobat product line), the installer adds a PDF previewer. If you use Outlook 2007 to open an e-mail message that contains an attachment in PDF format, you should be able to preview it directly in the e-mail message window without having to open an external program. Here’s an example:


(By the way, that button is a safety feature. In this day and age, you don’t want to automatically preview a random PDF file that arrives in your e-mail inbox. It helps that Outlook runs in low-integrity mode by default, rendering scripts and plug-ins unusable. But still … don’t change that setting!)

For months, I haven’t been able to get that feature to work on my x64 system, even though I have 8.1 versions of both Acrobat Reader and Acrobat Standard installed.

The fix, it turns out, is to install Tim Heuer’s free Foxit PDF Preview Handler, a little gem of an add-in that I’ve encountered before and had forgotten. An XP version is available as well.

After you click the Preview button, here’s what it should look like:


Download links are in Tim’s blog post introducing the add-in. I encourage you to read his post before you install or use this product.

4 thoughts on “PDF previews under Vista x64

  1. It’s very annoying that Adobe still have not released 64-bit versions of Adobe Reader and their Flash player. I don’t know if there’s a technical reason behind it or not. In my experience it’s very easy to recompile code to make 64-bit versions, but perhaps they have problems with 3rd party libraries which they use, or something.

    I wrote a plugin for a file manager which allows its viewer pane to use Adobe Reader, Flash, Fox It and various other ActiveX controls. When the file manager gained a 64-bit version I had to update my plugin and to make PDF files viewable again I had to to a hell of a lot of extra work (proxying everything through a 32-bit COM process/window, much as the viewer you mention in your article does). It probably took me, an independent developer doing stuff in my spare time, longer to work around this issue than it would have for Adobe to make 64-bit versions of their apps. 😦

    The viewer I wrote is here if you are interested: http://www.pretentiousname.com/activex/ — Views all Preview Handlers and most ActiveX controls (inc. FoxIt, Flash and Adobe Reader), proxying to 32-bit code if neccessary. This also means that it allows video playback using 32-bit codecs within a 64-bit process. (Well, within the windows of the process via a 32-bit proxy.)

  2. Talk about good timing on your post! I just upgraded to Outlook 2007 and was getting very annoyed by that “feature”.

  3. ED, should I install Windows Vista Ultimate 64 bit retail in HP Pavilion tx1410us Notebook PC? Will it improve the computer performance? The HP Tx1410us came with preloaded Windows Vista premium 32 bit

    2.2 GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 Dual-Core Mobile Technology TL-64
    512KB+512KB L2 Cache
    2GB memory
    250GB Hard drive
    NVIDIA GeForce Go 6150

  4. Hi Ed,

    I didn’t realise that Acrobat 8.1 had a previewer for Outlook 2007, was that new in version 8.1?

    We’ve been using Acrobat Reader 8.0 in our organisation and now I’m keen to upgrade 8.1 to get the previewer.


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