Way back in May 2008, I noted an annoying, longstanding bug that surfaces when you install Adobe Reader on Windows Vista x64. The preview function, both in Windows Explorer and in Outlook 2007, is broken. The only fix I could find at the time was to replace the broken previewer with a third-party alternative such as FoxIt PDF Preview Handler.
Now, 16 months later, there’s a new 64-bit operating system, Windows 7, and a new version of Acrobat Reader (9.1). And the bug is still there. Here’s what you see if you try to preview a PDF file in Windows Explorer under Windows 7 x64:
But yesterday, Leo Davidson pinged me via e-mail with news that he had discovered the cause and, more importantly, had a fix for it. As Leo notes, the problem is caused because Adobe registers the wrong preview handler, even though Microsoft explicitly documents the correct settings, The fix involves replacing the incorrect registry value with the proper one.
If you are running a 64-bit Windows version and you’ve experienced this issue, you can edit the registry by hand, using Leo’s step-by-step instructions. An easier fix is to create a Registration Entries file (.reg extension) that makes the changes automatically when you double-click it. You’ll find a downloadable version of this fix-it file at Leo’s site as well, just above the instructions for manually editing the registry. Download and unzip the adobe_pdf_x64_fix.reg file and follow the prompts.
As I discovered during my tests, this fix requires one extra step if you’ve previously installed the FoxIt Preview Handler. Open Control Panel, double-click the entry in Programs and Features for Adobe Reader, and run a Repair installation. After you complete that preliminary step, the fix should work just fine. Here’s what the preview pane looks like when it’s working properly:
As Leo notes, it would be nice if Adobe would fix this bug. (Actually, he’s a bit more forceful than that, and he’s right. Hey, Adobe, fix it!) It would be trivially easy to do so, and they could win some friends by getting it right with the next release of Reader.