Previewing Files


To preview an item, click the item's name.  It opens directly within the Box interface. When an individual follows a shared link to a file, by default the file previews within the the Box interface, rather than downloading or displaying within the native application.


This is the preview screen:

Preview screen annotated.png



  1.  File name and parent folder: See the name of the file you are previewing, plus the name of that file's parent folder. Click the name of the parent folder to navigate back to it. 
  2. Primary file actions: From the header, you can do the following  (note that some actions may be limited based on your permission level):  
    • View Recent Activity: View avatars of people who recently edited, commented on, or viewed the the file.
    • Show/Hide sidebar: Click the speech bubble icon to hide or show the sidebar.
    • Open: Click to open the file on your desktop. The native application opens the file.  For example, a Word document opens in Word.  Saving the file in the desktop application automatically uploads a new version to Box, so you don't have to worry about losing your changes.
    • Download: Download the file to your device. 
    • Share: Click to generate a link to this file that you can send to others.
  3. Sidebar: Under the Activity tab, view version history, comments, and tasks associated with the file.  Under the Details tab, view the file description, metadata, and access stats.  More information on metadata in Box.
  4. Comment/Approval box: Leave a comment or assign an approval task by typing it in the box at the bottom of the screen. To tag other users in your organization, type @ before their names. Check Add Approval to assign an approval task.  
  5. File navigation (on hover): To move between files within a folder, use the left/right arrows. Or use the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard.
  6. Preview Controls (on hover): Use this toolbar to zoom out, zoom in, rotate, or view your file in full screen mode. Options may vary based on file type. 

Previewing Video Files


Video preview is available only to Business level Box accounts, and above.  Free or personal users can preview video files owned by these accounts.

When you preview video files, you can use keyboard shortcuts to perform basic actions.  Preview also supports closed captioning in videos, and for accessibility it works with screen reader programs such as Mac's VoiceOver. 

For more information: 





What File Types are Supported?


To learn about the file types supported through Box Platform APIs, please see our developer documentation.

To see a full list of supported file types and fonts, please see our File Types and Fonts Supported in Box Content Preview article.



Is There a File Size Limit for Preview?

Preview is limited to files sized 500MB or smaller.  Video files are the exception; these can be up to 3.5 hours long. Excel file previews are also limited to sheets of fewer than ~100 columns and ~100,000 rows.  More on the Excel online previewer.


What Resolutions does Box Preview Support for Video Previews?

Both 480p and 1080p previews are supported.  When you preview a video, you can use the settings gear to adjust the resolution.


My File Doesn't Display Properly

Preview displays most documents without issue, but we cannot guarantee perfect accuracy. If your file doesn't display properly in preview, use the file's native application to open it.


Known Limitations:

  • Excel preview does not follow time information in the original file. When previewing Excel documents in Box, the time-related functions (for example, TODAY() or TIME()) do not display accurately. This is because Excel date/time functions are dynamic, while the previewed document is static. Box preview obtains and displays the date the file was previewed. A static version of the time/date is displays in the previewed document, based on the time the preview was generated.
  • You must provide the password to preview password-protected files. 
  • You cannot preview password-protected watermarked files.
  • Hyperlinks do not work in PowerPoint files in Box preview on either the Web,, or mobile applications. 
  • Videos embedded in Powerpoint files do not work in Preview.
  • Animations and page transitions in PowerPoint do not work in Preview.
  • Adobe PDF Portfolios are not supported by Box Preview.
  • Small sized file (1-byte) cannot be previewed on