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I'm working on a UI in a Windows desktop app where the user is given a textual list of names of icon galleries; clicking on one opens that gallery. I'd like to add a "quick preview" feature so that when the user mouses over "Beach Icons", they see a few icons from that gallery.

Can anyone think of a precedent in a Microsoft app so that I am aware of existing designs?

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closed as not constructive by JonW Aug 19 '12 at 9:52

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up vote 1 down vote accepted
  • Windows Live Photo Gallery shows large thumbnail tooltips when hovering over a photo in the gallery view.

  • Visual Studio Power Tools' Solution Navigator shows image preview when hovering over images in a project

  • The Visual Studio XAML designer's Document Outline window shows thumbnail previews of controls on mouseover

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Not exactly the same, but Microsoft Office 2010 (and possibly 2007) does something similar in places.

In Word, if you hover over one of the styles in the ribbon, it applies the style to your text as a preview, and then removes the preview when you move the mouse away from the style without clicking:


In PowerPoint, if you hover over a theme in the ribbon, the theme is applied to the current slide as a preview, and removed again when the mouse is moved away from the theme:


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When I read your question, I realized that the first examples that come to mind are neither Mac nor Windows: they are web-based. Namely:

enter image description here

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For example: Patterntap image

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Interesting question. Generally speaking, hover tends to show tooltips instead of previews. However, having spent 12 years at Microsoft working on apps and Windows UX features, I don't see anything inherently bad about your idea.

One Microsoft feature that does something right in this vein is the Taskbar in the Windows 7 shell. When you hover over any of the buttons, you get a popup with thumbnails of the open windows.

Explorer window thumbnails while hovering over the Taskbar icon

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