File preview errors and other messages

There are multiple reasons why a file may fail to preview on Dropbox. If you've encountered an error message while trying to preview a file, read on to find an explanation behind the message you're seeing. You'll also find a recommended solution.

[file type] files can't be previewed

Problem:

If you're seeing the error message [file type] files can't be previewed, it's because Dropbox doesn't recognize the file type. Dropbox supports an extensive list of file types for previews, but it appears your file is not on this list.

Solution:

If you've encountered this error message, simply open or download the file to view it.

File type can't preview

This file is too big to preview

Problem:

If you're seeing the error message This file is too big to preview, it's because Dropbox sets a limit on the size of files that can preview on dropbox.com. The file you're trying to preview exceeds this limit.

Consider the following size limits for some common file types:

  • Microsoft Word: 160 MB
  • Microsoft PowerPoint: 288 MB
  • Microsoft Excel: 40 MB
  • PDF: 80 MB
  • Photoshop and .tiff: 200 MB
  • Text and code: 4 MB

Solution:

If you've encountered this error message, simply open or download the file to view it.

File too big to preview

This file is password-protected

Problem:

If you're seeing the error message This file is password-protected, it's because of a password conflict between Dropbox and the file application. Many applications (for example, Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop) allow you to set passwords for your files. Dropbox does not support this password, and those files that have it won’t preview.

Solutions:

If you'd like to preview the file on dropbox.com, open the file in its original application and remove the password. If you'd like to password-protect your files, consider setting a password on the Dropbox shared link instead.

If you'd like to keep the password, simply open or download the file to view it.

File password protected
  • Note: With Dropbox Plus or Dropbox Business, you can set passwords and expiration dates for shared links. This is a way to password-protect files without setting a password in the app you used to create it.

Files without extensions cannot be previewed

Problem:

If you're seeing the error message Files without extensions cannot be previewed, it's because the file doesn't have a suffix attached to the file name. File suffixes (or "extensions") indicate the type of file, and help your computer know which application to use to open it. If you remove this extension, the file won't preview.

Examples of file extensions include .xlsx, .mov, and .txt.

Solution:

If you've encountered this error message, add the extension back to the file name and save it again.

No file extension

File is uploading

Problem:

If you're seeing a message that says File is uploading, it's because the file hasn't finished syncing to Dropbox. A file must be fully uploaded and saved (or "synced") to Dropbox before it can be previewed.

This error message often occurs in the following two scenarios:

  • You copy a Dropbox link to a file directly from Finder or Windows Explorer, before sync is complete
  • You attempt to preview a screenshot

Solution:

Wait for the syncing process to complete before trying to preview a file.

This file cannot be previewed

Problem:

If you're seeing the general error message This file cannot be previewed, there may be several possible reasons.

Solutions:

First, verify that your file hasn't been corrupted. To do this, try to open it with some other application on your desktop. If the file doesn't open with another desktop app, then it has likely been corrupted.

Next, verify that the file has the correct extension. If an extension is incorrect, the file won't preview.

Once you've verified that the file isn't corrupted and has a valid extension, simply open or download the file to preview it.

General can't preview error
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