Install Office Web Apps 2013 for SharePoint 2013 – with PDF Preview

17 May 2013
May 17, 2013

Preview of Office Documents (this includes PDF) is a huge benefit when you are searching for information – you can quickly identify if the document is the one you are looking for or skimming/scanning a document efficiently. To get the preview up and running you have to install Office Web Apps 2013 – PDF preview was added in March Public Update 2013 – that’s great, many clients have asked me why there is no support in the 2010 stack. But its 2013 – so let’s install Office Web Apps 2013 for SharePoint 2013!


I did the following steps on my SharePoint 2013 DEV environment. The SP2013 environment was already on March PU because of the awesome AutoSPInstaller/AutoSPSourceBuilder combo. As host I used a virtualized (Hyper-V) Windows Server 2012 with 4 cores and 5gb RAM on my Notebook (Lenovo W520).


You can’t install Office Web Apps on a SharePoint or SQL Server. Additionally the SharePoint Server has to use claims-based authentication. Read all the requirements here.

7 easy steps!

  1. Install the PreRequisites
  2. Restart the computer
  3. Download and install Office Web Apps 2013
  4. Download and install March Public Update for OWA 2013
  5. Create the OWA Farm
  6. Configure the binding on the SharePoint side
  7. Do a full crawl

PreRequisites for Server 2012

Note: For PreRequisites of Server 2008 R2 read the technet article. If you can not install KB2592525 read this blog post by Markus Nöbauer.

The installer of the Office Web Apps 2013 is a little bit limited – other than the SharePoint 2013 it does not configure the host. But at least you can automate the whole process. Run PowerShell as admin on the OWA server:

Restart the computer afterwards.

PowerShell addicted – starting to automate the PreRequisites installation.

Download and install Office Web Apps 2013

The installation is quite simple, hit next several times – nothing magic here.

OWA installation folder

OWA installation in progress

OWA installation in progress

Download and install the March Public Update

After the installation just copy the OWA March 2013 PU on the box and install it. Again, an easy task.

Installing March PU 2013

Create the OWA Farm

After installation and patching, we have to use PowerShell again:

With New-OfficeWebAppsFarm – you have certainly guessed it – we created the first node of our OWA farm, just replace the internal url with your hostname/FQDN. Because I have a simple DEV environment I did not use https and allowed editing – for editing you need Office licenses, view-only is free (awesome, thanks!). Add the OWA binding on the SharePoint machine, run this in a SharePoint Powershell:

Two commands and the two are coupled – great.


In my opinion seeing the document upfront is huge – a picture worth a thousand words – sooo true! Lets look at the result:

A preview in a document library

A picture is worth a thousand words – I like the preview.

Enable PDF Preview in Search results

Wictor wrote a nice article about how to enable the PDF-Preview – if you followed my guide you do not need to enable it, it’s already set. The only part that is missing is the Display Template.

The quick and dirty Powershell approach to enable PDF Previews in search results:

Do a full crawl

There is one managed property containing the link how to embed the preview of the document – this one is built during a crawl. So just do a full crawl and everything should be set.

Short video

If you wanna see the Preview in action, watch the following video:


The Server must be joined to a domain:

Install PreReqs for OWA RC:




Office Web Apps Powershell cmdlets:

Do you like it?

Questions, comments or feedback, just hit the comments!

Max Melcher
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Max Melcher

Maximilian Melcher (MCSE, MCPD) is a Principal Consultant working at Alegri International Services in Munich, Germany. Max is a specialist in SharePoint technologies focused on search, social computing, web content management and collaboration. Max has led SharePoint implementations for Dax 30 companies since 2009.
Max’s free time is spent on twitter (@maxmelcher) mostly with a good coffee in his hands.
Max Melcher
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54 replies
  1. Matthew Moore says:

    I have followed your documentation and the preview is not working at all. I have looked over and over and nothing. This is on a windows 2012 server. I have checked spwopizone is internal-http and Get-SPWOPIBinding is showing internal-http. But does the servername need to be fully qualitfied domain name ? It is showing . Should i have set it up just servername ?

    • matthew moore says:

      I got it working as I was using older office formats. The only thing which has not worked yet is the pdf preview. Not sure where to debug that at. Thank you for the easy to follow instructions.

      • Max Melcher says:


        glad it worked out for you!
        Are the new display templates selected for the pdf? Can you check if there is a new Result Type item in the site collection called “PDF with Preview”?

        So long,

        • matthew moore says:

          i went under search and I do not see anything like that at all. But Site administration I do not know where that is sorry. I am shown as site administrator but do not see any links to it. TIA.

  2. Corey Roth says:

    This works for me but something with this causes the vertical scrollbar to go away in the document preview window. I noticed that’s the case in your video as well. Strangely, it seems to be affecting word documents as well.

  3. Matt ST says:

    Run a full search crawl once you’ve completed the guide. Once the full crawl is completed, you’ll see the preview.

  4. Matt ST says:

    no worries, I had to do a little searching myself! Looks like the post from Wictor is not working as well.

    But amazing article, thanks for writing it!

  5. daniel says:


    Have you tried installing OWA on the same host as say a single server sp2013 farm.? I know this is not recommended but they did relax some the mandatory stuff post RTM.

    • Max Melcher says:

      Hi Daniel,

      AFAIK if you do this, OWA deletes your SharePoint sites because it thinks “THIS IS MY SERVER”.

      Would love to do this on one server, but my setup consists of 3 VMS currently.


  6. erik hof says:

    When creating a farm – 2 nodes and you created farm with PS command:

    New-OfficeWebAppsFarm –InternalUrl “” –AllowHttp –EditingEnabled

    On the second node would i run PS command 1) of 2) ?

    1) New-OfficeWebAppsMachine –MachineToJoin <– on server 1 name ?
    2) New-OfficeWebAppsMachine –MachineToJoin <– on nlb name ?

  7. Luis Valencia says:

    Hello Max,
    This is not working for me:

    1. I wonder if the file type in lower case or upper case has something to do?, the reason I ask is because in the refiners PDF appears with upper case.

    However if I debug a file its lower case:

    2. Here is an screenshot of the result type:

    3. Server admin says OWA is in March PU.

  8. Luis Valencia says:

    More info about my problem:, when I debug the item_word.js the breakpoints are hit, so the result type I think its correctly associated, when I check the serverredirecturl is empty, and we have ran several full crawls after we created the enterprise result type.

    • Max Melcher says:

      Hi Luis,

      when the property ServerRedirectUrl/ServerRedirectedEmbedURL is empty then the integration between OWA and SP2013 does not work or is not setup correctly. Is the OWA Zone setup correctly? Bindings for PDF added? Other document types work?


  9. Luis Valencia says:

    It works for Excel, Powerpoint and Word and webpages without any problem.

    I am not sure how OWA was installed as I dont have access to the prod servers, but I guess this command is missing?

    New-SPWOPIBinding –ServerName “” -Application WordPDF

    or I need something more?

  10. Luis Valencia says:

    DO I need to make a full crawl after the WOPI Binding again?

  11. Roch says:


    I’m wondering if you can help me as you appear to be very knowledgeable on this area and maybe you’ve come across this issue before. I am having an issue with Search and Office Web Apps.

    The document preview works when hovering over the … of a document in the document library. All other functions (view in browser, edit in browser etc also work as expected)

    However, it doesn’t work when doing the same thing against office documents found via SharePoint 2013 Enterprise Search results. When i hover over the result, I just get the option to ‘edit’ the documents which subsequently attempts to open or save it.

    My SharePoint farm is currently one SharePoint web application with multiple host named site collections. The farm is Build 15.0.4551.1508 – ​December 2013 CU

    My Web Apps server is Server 2012 and on KB2850013. I’ve tried dropping and recreating the OfficeWebAppsFarm, creating it as http instead of https, using the external-https zone instead of the internal one. None of this has worked. I have done a full crawl on 2 content sources that I’m testing against.

    The command i used to setup the Offfice Web App Farm is:-
    New-OfficeWebAppsFarm -InternalUrl “” -ExternalUrl “” -CertificateName “OfficeWebAppsCert” -EditingEnabled -ClipartEnabled -TranslationEnable

    The command i used to setup the SharePoint binding is:-
    New-SPWOPIBinding -ServerName “”

    Have you seen this before or could point me in a direction to resolve this? I need to get all parts of the web apps server (preview, edit) working for all documents asap especially those found via SharePoint 2013 Enterprise Search. Once this is working then i can attempt to enable the PDF preview in the search results.

    Many Thanks

    • Max Melcher says:

      Try create a new search center based on enterprise search center template and verify it there.

      If that does not work, please download the latest search query tool from codeplex and see if the property for the preview is set.


  12. Roch says:

    Thanks Max. I created a new search center based on enterprise search center template and it still didn’t work. I should point out that I have both a UAT and PROD environment pointing to the same Office Web Apps server, both exhibiting the same issue.

    I downloaded the latest search query tool from codeplex but am not 100% clear where i would see the property for the preview? I can see in the Raw response the following code multiple times:-

    Thanks again for your assistance with this.

  13. Roch says:

    No it’s blank

  14. Roch says:

    I’ve even resorted to building a new Web Apps server as 2008 R2 SP1 instead of server 2012.
    I get the exact same behavior – Web apps works for documents in the document library but not for documents returned from the Search results.

    Am i missing something in the configuration? I’ve reviewed many documents with regards to setting this up and i can’t see any additionally configuration options for Web Apps and Search.


  15. Roch says:

    Yes I followed and then I’ve only done a full crawl on 2 of the content sources but these are the content sources I’m testing results returned and the office web apps with. Do you think i need to reset the index? i feel that’s overkill but I’m getting desperate!

  16. Roch says:

    I just tried that – set up a new content source, ran a full crawl and searched for a document in it. NO JOY 🙁
    I only get the option to edit it which in turn only gives me the option to open or save it.

    • Max Melcher says:

      yepp expected that, just wanted to be sure.
      What you get when you run this on sharepoint powershell “Get-SPWOPIZone” and “Get-SPWOPIBinding”? Do the zones match?
      Do you get a javascript error in the search center?

  17. Roch says:

    Get-SPWOPIZone = internal-https
    (Get-SPWOPIBinding |where {$_.wopizone -eq “internal-https”}).count = 185

    I previously had tried changing the zone to external-https but that didn’t work.
    NB: (Get-SPWOPIBinding |where {$_.wopizone -eq “external-https”}).count = 185

    I don’t get any errors with the search center. I half wish i did as then I’d have something to look into. All i get when i hover over the results is the pop up, as though i didn’t have an office web apps server configured, and the option to edit which in turn opens or saves the documents.

    Thanks again for your help.

  18. Roch says:

    I’ve done that and i still get no preview pane (not even a blank one) for search results. Just the option to edit the document

    Get-SPWOPIBinding |where {$_.wopizone -eq “internal-http”}).count = 185
    (Get-SPWOPIBinding |where {$_.wopizone -eq “external-https”}).count = 0

    The documents area under the search center doesn’t have the web apps preview working 100% correctly now with uploaded documents (NB i now get an “only secure content is displayed message” and i click show all content – but that must be due to my search site being https.) In the preview pane it says to “To start seeing previews, please log on by opening the document.” If i click the link it opens the document in the browser using https://domainname/_layouts/15/WopiFrame.aspx?xxxxxxxxxxxx. However, this message seems to be intermittent and sometimes I’m getting the preview of the document here and other times I’m getting this “To start seeing previews, please log on by opening the document.” message!!

    If i view documents under a different host named site collection (but same web application as the search center) then the web apps preview works as expected (still with the show all content pop up) but WITHOUT the “To start seeing previews, please log on by opening the document.”

    I’m getting more and more confused by this not working. Could it be the Sharepoint CU we’re on – Build 15.0.4551.1508 – ​December 2013 CU?

    Also, you previously asked me “Is the ServerRedirectedEmbedURL property filled?” which it’s not. How does this get filled?

    Many thanks

    • Max Melcher says:

      “only secure content is displayed message” => means you are on https and try to load http content, as you stated.

      “To start seeing previews, please log on by opening the document.” is a session thing, once you sign in you are authenticated again and then it works for some time. I think the oAuth Token is invalid and the two have to reauthenticate again. I would ignore this for now.

      Ensure that all hostnames of your host named site collections are in the trusted or local intranet zone of your browser.

      To get previews in the search center you need the ServerRedirectedEmbedUrl property filled. Usually the Search Crawler knows that there is an OWA present (after the binding is set) and then fills the property during a crawl. But there is no manual step for this once you set the binding.
      The CU Dez 2013 should be fine (in the case you haven’t heard it, don’t install SP1 yet). Did you patch OWA, too? In my case I have SP2013 SP1 and OWA March PU 2013.

      If I were you I would ask Wictor ( – hes THE wopi guy!

      Good luck!

  19. Roch says:

    My SharePoint is on CU Dec 2013 (luckily not SP1) and my OWA is patched up to KB2850013 (Dec 2013). I started with just March PU but went to the latest hotfix when i started seeing this issue.

    Thanks again so much for your help. I’ll let you know if i get this resolved.

    Have a great day.

  20. Damien says:

    So how do you remove the Enable PDF Preview in Search results. Ran the powershell to enable but now need to remove and am having issues removing it. Any help would be great.

    • Damien says:

      I was able to find a work around getting a collection of the result types and using the index property to specify the one to remove. That worked but using the command and just trying to specify the Result type per the ID did not. There has to be an easer way but at least I got it removed.

  21. Rizwan says:


    This is not working for me and also i am now unable to open word documents in browser. I just wanted to remove the “PDF with Preview” result type.
    @DAMIEN can you please tell me how did you find the index of property. Please let me know the powershell command you used.

    • Max Melcher says:

      Hi Rizwan,

      was there an error? I tried the script like 10-15 times on different environments and it worked like a charm.

      To undo the mapping try the following script:

      $tenantOwner = Get-SPEnterpriseSearchOwner -Level SSA
      $ssa = “Search Service Application” #adjust if you renamed the service application

      get-SPEnterpriseSearchResultItemType -Owner $tenantOwner -SearchApplication $ssa | ? {$_.Name -eq “PDF with Preview”} | remove-SPEnterpriseSearchResultItemType -Owner $tenantOwner

  22. Hossein says:


    I have installed OWA on vm and I followed…/jj219455%28v=office.15%29.aspx —— but when im trying to verify OWA by http://servername/hosting/discovery , juts I have gotten “404 not found” and it can not show XML web page,

    afterwards, by entering New-SPWOPIBinding -ServerName -AllowHTTP in SPS Powershell I got an Error which can not connect to .

    Please help me.

    thanks in advanced

    • Max Melcher says:


      Did you run the “New-OfficeWebAppFarm” ?
      If so, open IIS Manager and check if the OWA site is there.


      • Hossein says:

        Thanks for your command. YES I did and I saw the result of “New-OfficeWebAppFarm”.

        Even as I read from ample of resources OWA will Create HTTP 809. please see the following link..

        Many thanks again

        • Max Melcher says:

          Was there something before on the server? Especially on the default website?

          If not – try reinstall OWA on the server.

          • Hossein says:

            definitely not…
            I have installed OWA on fresh VM server and just went through the steps. Even 2 days before I re-installed OWA and run the Command and saw the result. Afterwards, I entered /hosting/discovery and again 404 appeared …

            PS: I can not /hosting/discovery neither in OWA server nor SPServer. Also
            I Created a simple text file (test.txt) with some text in it, and save it under “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office Web Apps\RootWebSite” on the OWA server.
            I can’t access http://servername/text.txt from both OWA and SP servers.

            Thanks a lot

          • Max Melcher says:

            I don’t know if dropping a file there is a good test – try reinstalling OWA.

          • Hossein says:

            I don’t know really….

            As I told you before I did. I mean I re-installed OWA and nothing changed at all.
            I did this action, dropping a file, due to a recommendation. I post the result here maybe it helps the conclusion.

            Thanks for assigning your precious time.

          • Max Melcher says:

            Sorry didn’t catch that you reinstalled already.

            Is there something in the ULS? IIS logs? Windows Eventlog?

            Any chance that your DNS is wrong? Did you try it with localhost directly on the server?

            No worries about my time,I am on the way to the airport, 3 weeks vacation ahead 😉


          • Hossein says:

            Have a wonderful vacation ….

            I will check the latest ULS and will send it…. But first the important matter is your vacation…

            Thanks at all

          • Hossein says:


            for a Long time i haven’t been here… Hope you enjoy your holidays…
            Anyway, As you know,I have installed OWA 2013 on VM and I have test and bind successfully. Then now, I have tried to open Office documents. first of all when I try to preview the Office Docs it shows that you have to login again :


            even sometimes when I clicked again on “….” for previewing Docs it just loading files. Furthermore, I have tried to open ( or Edit in Browsers ) it takes long time ( ~ 10-15 min) and nothing happen.


            I also tried to open Word Doc and it just shows first Page but this file has more than 93 pages .

            Please help me …

            Thanks a lot

  23. hossein.korush says:

    hi.Please help me out. I do not know what to do.
    Windows PowerShell
    Copyright (C) 2013 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

    PS C:\Windows\system32> New-OfficeWebAppsFarm -InternalURL http://XXXX.XXX.local -AllowHttp -EditingEnabled

    Setting EditingEnabled to TRUE. You should only do this if users of this Office Web Apps Server have licenses that
    permit editing using Office Web Apps.
    Continue with this operation?
    [Y] Yes [N] No [S] Suspend [?] Help (default is “Y”): y
    New-OfficeWebAppsFarm : The Office Web Apps service failed to start. See the Windows Application Event Log for more
    At line:1 char:1
    + New-OfficeWebAppsFarm -InternalURL http://XXXX.XXX.local -AllowHttp -Editi …
    + ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    + CategoryInfo : OperationStopped: (:) [New-OfficeWebAppsFarm], ApplicationFailedException
    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : AgentManagerStartFailed,Microsoft.Office.Web.Apps.Administration.NewFarmCommand
    PS C:\Windows\system32>


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