Directory Opus 9 Logo

ActiveX + Preview + Office + Web

Plugin for Directory Opus

This plugin for Directory Opus allows you to view various document types within the Opus viewer pane.

Directory Opus is a file manager for Windows. Read my guide, Getting to know Directory Opus, for an introduction.

The plugin will hook other programs and viewers into Opus, depending on which compatible software you have installed.

It is designed to work with the following:

  • Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.)
  • The standalone MS Office Viewers (free)
  • Open Office (see below)
  • Internet Explorer (for HTML, MHT, XML, etc.)
  • Adobe Reader (PDF)
  • Fox-It Reader (PDF)
  • Shockwave Flash (SWF) (only if the Flash player for IE is still installed)
  • Vista and Office (2007 and later) Preview Handlers (E-mails, Contacts, Fonts, etc.)
  • Microsoft XPS documents
  • Windows Media Player (but the Opus Movie plugin is better for movie playback)
  • Zip file contents
  • AutoCAD (DWG, DWF, etc.) (see below)
  • DjVu (see below)
  • SVG (see below)
  • Quick View Plus 11 (see below) (views hundreds of formats)
  • And more...

(Related: Autodesk Inventor thumbnails in Opus.)

The plugin includes the ability for 64-bit versions of Opus to use both 32-bit and 64-bit ActiveX viewers. For example, this enables 64-bit users to view PDF and Flash files within the Opus viewer pane, even though Adobe have not produced 64-bit versions of their components.

The ActiveX plugin is packaged as part of Directory Opus itself but you may sometimes find a newer version here.

  • Directory Opus 8 and above:

    You should already have the latest version of the ActiveX plugin for your version of Directory Opus, as it is included in the installer now.

  • Directory Opus 6:

    There is no version of the ActiveX plugin for Directory Opus 6.

(Note that Microsoft Office 2007 can view most Open Office documents now; if you use Office 2007 you may not need to do anything. Follow this guide if you wish to use Open Office to view the Open Office and/or Microsoft Office file formats.)

(You may also wish to consider using Quick View Plus to view Open Office formats within Opus.)

When installing Open Office you must include the Open Office ActiveX Control, which is not part of the default install:

Open Office installer with ActiveX Control included

The Open Office file extensions should then work automatically (unless you are using an old version Opus).

If you wish to use Open Office to view Microsoft Office documents then you should add the Microsoft Office file extensions to the Internet Explorer line in the plugin's configuration:

In Directory Opus, open the ActiveX plugin's configuration via Settings -> Preferences / Plugins / Viewers, selecting the plugin and clicking Configure.

In the plugin's configuration, select Internet Explorer 32-bit (or just Internet Explorer if you are using 32-bit Windows), then type DOC into the box on the right and click Add. Do the same for the other extensions you care about (XLS, PPT, etc.). Finally, click OK.

Configuring the ActiveX plugin to use Internet Explorer for a particular file extension

Note: The screenshot above shows the DWG extension being added. Substitute the file extension(s) you are interested in. e.g. Type DOC instead of DWG to add Word documents.

AutoCAD .DWG file displayed within Directory Opus

  1. Download and install the free DWG viewer made by Autodesk themselves or the Free DWG Viewer (Powered by Brava!). (I am told the Autodesk viewer supports more file formats/versions. That said, as of 27/Jan/2011 AutoCAD's viewer no longer seems to work for me, at least on Windows 7 64-bit, so I personally recommend the Brava viewer.)

  2. If you chose the Autodesk viewer, skip to step 3.

    If you chose the Brava viewer then you have to configure it before it will work in Opus. Launch it via the Free DWG Viewer icon its installer placed on your desktop, then select Options -> Set as Default Viewer from its menu.

    Setting Free DWG Viewer as the default DWG viewer (part 1)

    An Associate File Types... window will open. Click on the Internet Explorer tab at the top, then select .dwg (and any other wanted formats) from the tree in the middle, then click OK and close the viewer.

    Setting Free DWG Viewer as the default DWG viewer (part 2)

  3. Now switch to Directory Opus and open the ActiveX plugin's configuration via Settings -> Preferences / Plugins / Viewers, selecting the plugin and clicking Configure.

    In the plugin's configuration, select Internet Explorer 32-bit (or just Internet Explorer if you are using 32-bit Windows), then type DWG into the box on the right and click Add. (Do the same for any other extensions you care about such as DWF.) Finally, click OK.

    Configuring the ActiveX plugin to use Internet Explorer for a particular file extension

(Thanks to Inkslinger at the Opus forums for posting the original instructions and to Konrad Klar for posting information on the Autodesk viewer.)

SVG file being displayed in the Opus viewer panel via Internet Explorer 9

Provided you have Internet Explorer 9 or above, you can view .SVG files in the Opus viewer panel. From Opus onwards, .SVG is automatically assigned to the ActiveX plugin's "Internet Explorer" line. With earlier versions you had to assign it manually:

Configure the plugin to show SVG files via IE9

DjVu file displayed within Directory Opus

There are two options for displaying DjVu files within Directory Opus:

  1. The easiest way is to install Caminova's DjVu Shell Extension Pack which includes a preview handler (shown above) that Opus will use automatically once installed.

  2. Alternatively, Caminova's DjVu Browser Plug-in will also work in Opus. Unlike the preview handler, if you use the browser plug-in you will need to configure Opus to use it by adding .djvu to the Generic ActiveX (32-bit) line in the ActiveX plugin's config. See the OpenOffice or AutoCAD guides above for help with that part.

The first option seems a bit nicer as you don't have to tell Opus to use it and it scrolls documents in a better way. That said, the second option has some features that the preview handler doesn't, e.g. a ruler to measure distances, options to rotate pages...

(Thanks to Nosh and Flutable at the Opus forums for posting the original instructions.)

Word Perfect .WPD file displayed within Directory Opus 64-bit using Quick View Plus
Word Perfect .WPD document displayed within Directory Opus 64-bit using Quick View Plus.

Quick View Plus (QVP) is a product, made by Avantstar, which can view hundreds of file formats without the need for any additional software. For example, it can display Microsoft Word or Corel Word Perfect documents without having either program installed.

Quick View Plus 11 includes a preview handler that works within Directory Opus (and newer versions of Windows Explorer and Outlook).

Simply installing Quick View Plus 11 Standard (or above) will add its viewing abilities to Directory Opus if you are on Windows Vista, Windows 7 or above. (Windows XP users can still benefit, with an extra step. See below.)

Notes & Caveats (updated September 2011):

  • Windows XP: Quick View Plus 11 does not install its preview handler on Windows XP; however, the DLLs it installs seem to work with the Opus MultiView plugin.
  • 32-bit: Avantstar support Quick View Plus on 32-bit editions of all current versions of Windows.
  • 64-bit: Avantstar support Quick View Plus on 64-bit editions of Windows 7. (I found it worked okay on 64-bit Vista as well, but it's not officially supported.)
  • QVP editions: Quick View Plus 11 comes in two editions: Standard and Professional. The Standard edition is all you need if you just wish to view files within Directory Opus.
  • QVP trial version: In the past, QVP trial versions did not install the preview handler, but Avantstar have since corrected this.

(Thanks to Michael Kenward, Jon Potter, Plunder and Avantstar themselves for their help discovering the info above. Thanks also to Ron Hirsch whose quest for a way to view Word Perfect files in 64-bit Opus led us here.)

Many of these issues seem to be bugs or deficiencies in the components mentioned, rather than in the ActiveX plugin itself. I've tried everything I can think of to work around the problems and have given up for now. In the case of the Media Player and QuickTime issues, the Opus Movie plugin does a far better job than the ActiveX plugin, provided you have the required splitters/codecs, so it doesn't seem worth spending more time on them.

  • Internet Explorer:
    • If you use Dragon NaturallySpeaking you may need to turn off its option called "Enable commands in HTML windows", else it could cause Opus to lock-up when viewing HTML files. (We only have one report of this problem so it may not be a problem for you.)
    • HTML pages flicker like crazy when you resize them.
    • If you are using IE6 or below you cannot zoom in and out. Before IE7, IE only supported changing the font size and not proper zooming, and changing the font size results in a mess in the registry. Because of this, and the fact that zooming web pages isn't that important, added to the fact that IE6 needs terminating with extreme prejudice due to not supporting PNG alpha channels, there are no plans to support zooming on IE6. :-)
    • If you're on 64-bit Windows, using an IE version older than IE8, and the plugin is configured to use 32-bit IE (the default), using Ctrl-F to find text will usually result in an error message. Switching the HTML, MHT, etc. extensions to the 64-bit version of IE will resolve this if it bothers you. Or upgrade to IE8 where the problem is gone.
  • Windows Media Player:
    • WMP Resizing oddities. On XP videos do not maintain their aspect when resized. On Vista videos do maintain their aspect but the zoom level resets to 100% sometimes.
    • WMP's volume slider only repositions itself if the window is resized vertically (or diagonally) when it obviously should reposition itself on horizontal (or diagonal) moves.
    • WMP flickers like crazy when you resize it.
    • WMP on XP may not work in USB mode since it requires a registry setting to enable the viewer to load the right version of WMP. This does not seem to affect Windows 2000 or Vista.
  • QuickTime:
    • The QuickTime control does not set the mouse cursor when the mouse is over it.
    • The QuickTime control will sometimes display an error message as the viewer closes.

Newer versions (2012-2021+):

  • Changes to this plugin listed in the Opus release notes rather than here these days.

Version (10th January 2012):

  • Included with Directory Opus
  • Fix for not being able to delete/rename PDF files open in the viewer with some PDF software installed. It wasn't our fault but we can work around it. (The ActiveX plugin now forces all .PDF preview handlers to open temporary copies, after discovering that Adobe's preview handler wasn't the only one which incorrectly locks files while displaying them.)

Version (23rd November 2011):

  • Included with Directory Opus
  • Assigns SVG files to Internet Explorer by default. (IE9 or above is required to display SVG files.)
  • Sets Windows Media Player to 100% volume, instead of its default 50%.
  • Sets Windows Media Player and Quicktime (and possibly others) to only play the selected file once, instead of in a loop.

Version (30th April 2011):

  • Included with Directory Opus
  • Avoids trying MS Office itself if an Office preview handler was tried first but failed.

Version (21st May 2010):

  • Included with Directory Opus
  • Prevents the Syntax-Colored Source preview handler from handling .url files by default. If that handler is installed the plugin will still send .url files to a web browser unless explicitly configured not to.

Version (20th November 2009):

  • Included with Directory Opus
  • Fix for IE-based viewers taking the focus on opening, which was due to changes in to help with mousewheel scrolling when unfocused.

Version (21th September 2009):

  • Included with Directory Opus
  • Added workaround for Microsoft preview handlers that have identical names. It's now clear which is which.
  • Added a hardcoded list of default preview handler associations to use as a fallback when no association exists in the registry. (Example 1: Uninstalling the FoxIt preview handler does not re-assign .PDF to the Adobe preview handler. Example 2: On a vanilla Windows 7 install there is no .EML filetype but there is an Email preview handler which works fine if the plugin knows to use it.)
  • Plugin configuration dialog now opens a bit faster on Windows 7 x64.
  • Fixed using Microsoft Office itself (not the preview handlers) to view documents on Windows 7 x64.
  • The Open Office file types are now viewed via an embedded Internet Explorer, by default, as this works better with OpenOffice 3.
  • The default configuration now recognises Open Office documents (.ODT), spreadsheets (.ODS), graphics (.ODG) and presentations (.ODP).
  • Internet Explorer and the Windows Email preview handlers can now be scrolled with the mouse wheel without first clicking on them. (Unfortunately, this has to be done by giving them the focus when you scroll.)
  • Adobe PDF preview handler no longer takes the focus when scrolling with the mouse wheel.
  • Added workaround for Adobe PDF preview handler on Vista x64. (Different to the previous workaround for Windows 7 x64.)
  • Added workaround for Adobe PDF preview handler locking files when they are viewed.
  • Added workaround for Adobe PDF preview handler not responding to the keyboard after scrolling with the mouse wheel.
  • Added workaround for Adobe PDF preview handler not allowing you to tab-cycle to or from it.
  • Added workaround for Adobe PDF preview handler not drawing pages if you scrolled rapidly using the keyboard.

Version (8th September 2009):

  • Included with Directory Opus
  • Added workaround for "Adobe PDF for Vista" preview handler not working under x64 due to Adobe registering it incorrectly.
  • Added workaround for "Adobe PDF for Vista" preview handler rendering blank pages sometimes when scrolled with the mousewheel.
  • "Adobe PDF for Vista" preview handler is now enabled by default, if installed, as it's the only Adobe PDF viewer applet that works properly on Windows 7 x64 and it doesn't depend on the "Display PDF in browser" setting of Adobe Reader. People who preferred Adobe Reader can still configure the plugin to use it instead of the Adobe PDF preview handler if they want to.
  • Added .MP4 to default Generic ActiveX extensions.

Version (1st June 2009):

  • Included with Directory Opus
  • Fixed viewing files inside of Zip files, FTP sites, File Collections, etc.

Version (22nd May 2009):

  • Included with Directory Opus
  • Now scans the registry if it cannot find a viewer. (Workaround for programs which trash the MIME and COM settings of any file-types they take over.)

Version (17th December 2008):

  • Requires Directory Opus or above. Included with Directory Opus
  • Fix for SWF (etc.) files not displaying if viewed directly from UNC paths.

Version (9th October 2008):

  • Requires Directory Opus or above. Included with Directory Opus
  • You can now view Office 2007 documents if you have Office 2000, Office XP or Office 2003 and have installed the Office Compatibility Pack.
  • Note: If you have Office 2000 then this only applies to Word .docx files. Excel .xlsx and PowerPoint .pptx files still won't work in the viewer unless you have Office XP, 2003 or above.

Version (18th September 2008):

  • Requires Directory Opus or above. Included with Directory Opus
  • Improved handling/restoration of input focus when you change files while inline renaming and the ActiveX viewer is open.
  • Increased the amount of time that the plugin waits for focus to be taken from 5 seconds to 60 seconds.

Version (11th July 2008):

  • Requires Directory Opus or above. Included with Directory Opus
  • Fix for Excel's formula bar appearing in the viewer when the window was (de)activated. (Workaround for another bug in Excel.)
  • Fix for clipboard not working when viewing HTML documents.

Version (6th July 2008):

  • No longer causes Excel's formula bar to turn off when using Excel itself (workaround for bug in Excel).
  • Always opens .PDF files via a temporary copy so the original can be deleted. (This doesn't seem necessary with newer versions of Adobe Reader but people complained so I've done it anyway. Maybe it's needed for Acrobat itself.)
  • Avoids opening most Movie and Audio extensions when inside of Zip files. (Since it's rarely desirable and it confused people that the Movie plugin would handle normal files while the ActiveX plugin handled the same types of files if they were inside of Zip files. Now neither plugin handles them.)

Version (23rd April 2008):

  • Included as part of the Directory Opus installer.
  • Support for Office document Zooming (Word/Excel/PowerPoint) and Fit-to-Page (Word/PowerPoint).
  • Support for HTML document Zooming. (IE7 only. Older versions of IE do not support zooming.)
  • IE is now run in-process again whenever possible. (It's still out-of-process when 32-bit IE is used inside of 64-bit Opus.) This isn't really a feature but it means the next thing now works:
  • Ctrl-F (Find) when viewing HTML via IE works reliably again on 32-bit platforms. On 64-bit platforms you will still see error messages when using Ctrl-F if the plugin is configured to use 32-bit IE (the default) but you can change to 64-bit IE if this annoys you.
  • Increased timeout which may resolve problem of Office documents not always opening (or opening and then closing immediately) on 64-bit Windows.
  • The plugin is now localised into the same languages as Opus itself.

Version (10th March 2008):

  • Fixed USB export.
  • The 64-bit plugin can now use 32-bit ActiveX controls. This means 64-bit users can view PDF and Flash files and use 32-bit Windows Media Player codecs.
  • The 64-bit plugin's configuration dialog allows you assign extensions to 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Internet Explorer and Generic ActiveX controls. The default configuration assigns everything to 32-bit as many controls do not yet have 64-bit versions and this is what the OS itself does with IE and WMP.
  • The plugin now runs all of its viewers in separate processes in order to isolate Opus itself from crashes.
  • Windows Media Player crashes after full-screen mode seem to be fixed as a result of the process isolation.
  • Moved text into StringTable resource to allow for localisation.
  • Configuration dialog uses system Message Box font. (e.g. Segoe UI 9 on Vista.)
  • Default configuration changes:
    • Added .zip to default Internet Explorer extensions. Shows you the contents of the selected zip file.
    • Disabled Microsoft XPS Rich preview handler by default as the Internet Explorer plugin is better overall.
    • Disabled Windows Media Player preview handler by default as the Generic ActiveX control is generally better.
    • Disabled Windows Mail HTML preview handler by default as using Internet Explorer gives fuller results (e.g. images).

Version (24th February 2008):

  • First 64-bit version.

Version (21st February 2008):

  • Fixed, or at least reduced, problems when multiple Office viewers were open at once.
  • Fixed Excel not taking the focus after the file display was clicked and then Excel clicked.
  • Fixed focus being lost when the viewer has focus and is closed. (Fix required change to Opus as well as plugin, so won't be seen until the next Opus version is also released and installed.)
  • The plugin now attempts to restore focus back to the lister after documents are loaded.
  • The plugin tries to forward mousewheel messages to the viewer even when it is not active. This only works with some ActiveX controls.

Version (13th February 2008):

  • Fixed Windows 2000 compatibility.
  • Fixed Office 2000 resizing.
  • Fixed Excel 2000 incorrectly displaying partial Web toolbar.
  • Fixed viewer window lock-up if viewer set to handle HTML files when double-clicked, and the HTML document was then scrolled to the bottom.
  • Fixed problems with Windows MAPI Preview Handler sometimes not responding, or causing the next file you view to be unresponsive. (e.g. When changing between .msg and .eml files a few times.)
  • Fixed bits of the ActiveX control sometimes being left over the Opus window after resizing rapidly.
  • Fixed loading Flash files with non-ASCII filenames via the Internet Explorer method. (Workaround for bug in Flash ActiveX control.)
  • Fixed problems caused by clicking links in Flash files when viewed via the Generic ActiveX method. These used to cause the viewer to exit and are now ignored completely (for security reasons). The Internet Explorer method, which is the default for Flash files, does not have this limitation.
  • Tested against standalone Office viewers without problems.

Version (9th February 2008):

  • Version 3 of the ActiveX Plugin was a complete re-write.
  • Support for Preview Handlers within Directory Opus. Preview Handlers are a new type of lightweight viewer used by Windows Vista's Explorer and Microsoft Office 2007. Vista & Office 2007 ship with several useful Preview Handlers for formats including Word, RTF, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio, fonts, contacts, web pages, saved e-mails, various video formats, and more. Additional Preview Handlers are available on the net and some work on XP as well as Vista.
  • As before, support for Microsoft Office documents if you have Office or the standalone Office ActiveX viewers installed. The default configuration has also been updated to include the new Office 2007 file extensions.
  • Zooming support. Word documents are now zoomed to fit the window width by default. IE7, Word, Excel and PowerPoint can all be zoomed in and out.
  • Improved support for web documents. In addition to the old HTML support the plugin can now view MHT, URL and XML files.
  • New support for QuickTime .MOV files. Opus's Movie plugin is still the better choice for MOV playback if you have the required DirectShow filters installed, but now the ActiveX plugin provides a decent fallback for those who don't.
  • The ability for 64-bit versions of Opus to display files using 32-bit versions of Internet Explorer, Adobe Reader, and other ActiveX controls (as well as the 64-bit versions of them, if any).
  • Generally improved compatibility. Several ActiveX controls which did not work in the past now work with this version.
  • Support for Opus's USB mode, meaning the plugin works when Opus is running from a portable device.

Version (22nd August 2004):

  • Initial public release.
  • Comes with Directory Opus 8.

If you are translating Directory Opus into another language then this will help you understand where the ActiveX plugin's strings are used: