[FIX] Windows Explorer Doesn’t Show Thumbnail Previews in Windows Vista and Later

Recently an AskVG reader "Neo13" contacted us regarding a weird problem. Following is the problem description:

Hello VG

I'm using Windows 7 and suddenly Windows Explorer has stopped showing thumbnails for files and folders. When I change the view type to thumbnails, Windows doesn't show thumbnail previews.

Can you please help me in fixing the problem?

Actually its a very common problem in Windows. Sometimes Windows Explorer doesn't show thumbnail previews for images and other files as shown in following screenshot:


It might be due to a bug or the user accidentally turned off thumbnails using Folder Options or System Properties.

Anyway if you are also facing this problem, you can use following easy fix to show thumbnails again in Windows Explorer:

1. Open Windows Explorer, click on Organize button present in command bar and select "Folder and search options".

2. Now go to View tab and make sure "Always show icons, never thumbnails" option is not enabled i.e. its disabled.


If the option is enabled, uncheck the checkbox and click on Apply button.

It should fix the problem. If you can't access Folder Options, you can use following alternative method:

1. Type sysdm.cpl in RUN or Start Menu search box and press Enter. It'll open System Properties.

2. Go to "Advanced" tab and click on "Settings" button in "Performance" section.

3. Now make sure "Show thumbnails instead of icons" option is enabled.


If its not enabled, enable the option and click on Apply button.

That's it. Now you should get thumbnail previews in Windows Explorer without any problem as shown in following screenshot:



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Posted in: Troubleshooting, Windows 7, Windows Vista

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  • thanks a lot dude.you fix my long term problem!

  • Thanks. This the exact article I needed!!!

  • Thanks, this worked, now can see thumbnails!

  • Whew! Thanks for this post. Was able to make it work again using a custom theme!

  • Thanks. I think my preferences got switched without my knowing during a windows update.

  • The above FIX really worked and it was very helpful. Here is another way of doing the same thing.

    Right-click the mouse on the Start Button
    Click on Windows Explorer
    Click on Tool
    Click on folder options
    Click on the View Tab
    Uncheck “Always allow icons, never thumbnails”
    Then click ok.

  • Thank you so much for this tip. i was annoid when i was trying to open each image as a crazy searching for hundreds of images to select the most suitable. Excellent solution and i wish you all the succes.

  • hey i just wanna thank you for this blog i was searching some help on google and i pick this one, and im so glad of because this was my exact problem and you had just the right answer. Keep up the good work.

  • For windows 8 in an explorer window go to the "View" tab, click "Options" and then "Change folder and search options" this will give you the dialog in the instructions in the post.

  • cheers mate.. that issue was driving me nuts
    but theres a few vague areas of your description
    eg. how to get to the search area etc

    fixed tho

  • Thanks a lot for the info here. This was doing my head in for weeks. Great advice and thanks for sharing. Worked for me a treat ! :-) No idea why it switched it off tho because I didn't do it. Am a happy chappie now :).

  • Thank you so much.
    Thumbnails just stopped working one day - I don't know why.
    Your advise fixed the problem.
    You are a scholar and a gentleman.

  • Did not work for me. I have checked both folder options and the overall settings as detailed above. "Always show icons and not thumbnails" is definitely unchecked.

    The issue only occurs with SOME folders which have .jpg files. And yes, I have checked thoroughly those individual folders. In the far right column it says No preview Available.

  • I tried that on Windows 8 but it did'nt work. Could you have any idea to solve the same problem on Windows 8. Thanks in advance.

  • I tried al these things but my thumbnails are not coming up. i did folder view options but nothing, even went to system properties but nothing... is there anything else new i can try...? pls?

  • It works on USG drives only but not folders in local harddisk!

  • appreciate it loads.... thanks. ingenious!!!

  • Haha! This was the fix... so many unhelpful threads across the internet, I was so happy to have found this page. Thank you much!

  • I tried all the steps mentioned above but none of them helped with the issue I've been encountering in my Windows 8 Single laptop.

    Please, feed us back if you ever found a solution for this.


  • I'm using Windows 8.1 and suddenly Windows
    Explorer has stopped
    showing thumbnails for music and video files.
    Can you please help me in fixing the problem?

  • VG

    ^^ Sometimes if a folder contains many images or video files and you enable thumbnail view, it might crash Explorer.

  • Thank you. This fixed my issue. Every now and then I come across someone who knows more than I do....... :>)

  • "Show thumbnails instead of icons" option is enabled.

    Problem Fixed - that was most helpful

  • I had a similar problem; with the exception that for some unknown reason; some of the files generated a thumbnail, while others did not. More specifically; images didn't. Before the baffling event, all registered file types would do so, obv. The most flabbergasting thing was that sometimes for an instant they would, yet disappeared as quickly as they appeared; changing to the default mountain landscape frame or geometric shapes icons. I couldn't do a Restore Point since like many, can't fig afford that luxury. I knew that a complete reinstall of the system would certainly "fix" the issue; but didn't wanted that just for such minor quibble. Nevertheless, I tried every other common and senseless recommendations; like FixIt, SFC, useless boot media recovery, partition restore options, regenerating the database, increasing the image limit count, zooming in and out, setting appearance's show thumbnails instead of icons, and Explorer's display file icons on thumbnails and not always shown icons never thumbnails; all in retrospect which were rather self evident to be in their correct settings anyways; well, you name it! &BTW, Group Policy settings where even less of a concern. Of course there should be an option to reset the system to it's original installation state; called it "Revert To Brand New", "Blue Screen Of Life", or whatever; yet obv that's not a sensible biz decision in the eyes of The Monopoly. Anyhow; long story short... The problem was like most things Windoze related, probably registry corruption. The default thumb handler, which actually is Explorer, somehow had been disassociated of the picture files' extensions somewhere down the line. It could've been a wrongful install/uninstall of an image previewer/editor; like ACDSee; or codec pack, doesn't matter and don't know anyhow. The point being that no-one else bothered to suggest something even remotely similarly like; hence the comment posting. So again, what did solve the situation was manually adding explicit values in the registry. Eg, for the .jpg extension create and merge a .reg file of the following:

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00



    Change and repeat for all the offending file types; that's all you need to modify and be concerned about. The first ID is a reference to the standard thumbnail handler, and the second is the new system property handler to be assigned; ie, the M$ Office and general multimedia one. Which obv makes it a good all around alternative for other offerings as well; since technically everything else seemed fine to begin with, and movies are made of static pics anyway. &BTW, those values are constants for all recent versions of Windows (NT based) Nor other things should be affected; eg, altering Photo Gallery/Viewer or any other program set as opening them by default. Test it with one and if it doesn't work then simply delete the entry. Might not be the best way to go about it; quick&dirty and all that; but at least it worked in my case...

  • wow thank you so much! I've been having so much pains with this problem with my new windows 8 lap top for so many months! you are brilliant!!! :D

  • My window is Window 8.I can't see pictures in preview of window explorer.I have been done this two method.But I didn't see in thumbnail.Please tell me,how should I do?

  • Oh man thank you so much. I had this problem for too long, this was really helpful :)

  • thanks, very useful article. helped a lot. thanks...

  • Thank you soo much! I almost feel tempted to send you $50, but my gf won't let me for fixing this problem i've had for months! Once again thank you!

  • These steps for Windows 8.1 :
    1. Launch File Explorer (Winkey+E).
    2. Click the View tab at the top of the window.
    3. Click the Options button.
    4. In the Folder Options window that appears, click on the View tab..
    5. Uncheck the "Always show icons, never thumbnails" option.
    6. Click Apply, then OK.
    hope it worked!

  • Thanks so much for this. I changed to not showing previews of my photos because I read somewhere it made things faster or used lesss room, don't remember the exact reason but I hated it and could not remember how to change it back. I tried searching for how to but must have used the wrong search words. Either way this fixed my problem. Thanks again!

  • Also worked for Windows 8.1 :) Thank You! xx

  • The way Windows 8 annoyed me makes me want to say "Thank You"

  • actually..i don't need this because everything works fine except video formats,and i cant fix it :(

  • for people that have the issues that cant see the photos even after the above advise for windows 8 users scroll your mouse to the top right screen to drop the menu choose settings then control panel click system then advance system settings. in performance click settings and make sure the thumbnails is checked. you probably have it set for maximum performance hit apply enjoy

  • Install K Lite Mega Codecs Pack.
    In the Thumbnails Section of installation process, check all formats and continue the installation.


    Install the "Media Preview" utility.

  • Tried it all ans unfortunately it didn't work for me. I will continue to search. One thought....why. in the name of god, would there be an option in a "pictures" folder to have an icon?? I don't get it. They already have list, details, and tile options. Why wouldn't some beautiful/dreamy programmer write that little detail in as an option for us? Or...if not that...at the very least, a solution to this problem that shouldn't be a problem.

  • Thank you for this helpful tip! It solved my problem as well!

  • "Always show icons, never thumbnails" did it for me. thnks!

  • thanks dude , it was a headache ,but your tip works as aspirin

  • Always show icons, never thumbnails was the cure to my pain. Thanks.

  • Thank you for this idea..... was very helpful...

  • my thumbnail in my folder won't show up
    like uncheck and check the "show thumbnail instead icon" or don't check "Always show icon, never thumbnails"
    and then when i go to my folder 1-2 thumbnail load and then back to icon again
    or i already do the disk cleanup thing still not working
    pls help i don't know what to do anymore

  • VG

    ^^ Try method 4:


  • In WIN8, The problem also occurs if C: is running short of space, try moving your personal files to other partition, thumbnail previews will be back to normal. Cheers

  • my pictures doesn't have problem showing thumb. but my videos doesn't, it does have thumbs. when i first time downloaded videos but it doesn't shows anymore when i turn on my laptop and im using windows 8.1.

  • Thanks so much, it worked for me just fine.

  • Many thanks. Precise answer to my question. Brilliant!

  • W/10 Tech Preview will only show thumbnails in Medium view or higher - it should show a pop up when hovering in Details view.

  • I've found a fix to get Win7 Explorer to preview PDF files.

    The fixed suggested above didn't work for me but this did:

    I have 2 identical computers with the both the same register entries that are recommended above, However the preview worked on one but not the other.

    On both computers i have the full version of Acrobat 8 and the free Reader version of Acrobat 11.

    I discovered that the installation sequence affects the ability to preview files in Windows 7 Explorer.

    I. Install Acrobat 8 (Explorer still cannot preview PDF'sds)

    2. install the free Acrobat 11 reader

    3. result = Explorer can preview pdf's

    4. make Acrobat 8 the default program for opening PDF' and Explorer can still preview pdf's

    If you install in a different order it doesn't work.
    It looks like that the final installation of V11 rectifies something in Win 7 and continues to work even when viewing using V8

  • It didn't work for me. :( I've tried doing the steps a lot of times.

  • I am using Windows 8.1. Both these options have not worked for me! Any other solution?

  • I am using Windows 8.1, my problems are similar with others, but it happen on all files, and sometimes the icon appears and sometimes it changed to thumbnails again. I have tried the solutions that provided above, but it still doesn't work for me. Any other solution for this?

  • On pictures its fine but videos doesn't show any icon i check it on phone it shows the icon but in my pc it doesn't i'm using windows 8.1

  • Hey, just because I found the information nowhere :
    If windows only shows SOME thumbnails, then you need to clean your disk : windows stops generating thumbnails when the system disk is around 80% full.
    Then restart a couple of times, click and unclick "never display thumbnails" in the "organize" section and this will work

  • Pls this steps did not work for me! i tried both staep, ie system ppties and explorer option steps, yet it did not change. however when i connect my camera to the computer, it displays all the thumbnail picture, but when i copy to my computer, they turn into rectangular icon (So Annoying).. pls help me out. i run windows 8 Pro. (desktop) my laptop run win 7 but DO NOT have this issue. pls help me out. thanks y'all

  • thankxx dude the 2nd method worked for me .... it was a problem for me for so long loved the solution

    thanks again !

  • Please help me.. i cant see my mp3 file background pics ....when i open my song folder only see player logo ...

  • Thank you sooooooooooooooooo much - was driving me nuts!

  • Thanks a lot, pal! Thanks for all the people on internet who takes time to write these for primitive creatures like us. I'm so moved :')

  • Thank you for the RUN tutorial. Much appreciated.

  • thnx alot .
    it is really helpfull......

  • it worked on pics but it is useless for video thumbnail

  • and what about for SD cards?

    still didn't work. win 8.1

  • i had found the solution for user who not working with this trick. here is the solution, you need to install media preview, you can google it. please choose system vs. mp in that software

  • hey ya guys, this worked for me on my win 7 32
    1. install latest adobe reader, wait 'till finished
    2. go to edit > preferences, click "select default pdf handler"
    3. there are only 2 options to choose from (adobe reader & adobe acrobat), default option is adobe reader, then you just have to click "apply".

  • This is a great help...an eye opener.. thanks

  • OMG. Thank you so much! Trying to run an at home business and which runs on my photos.. ugh.. what a pain it was to find just one photo! You are a lifesaver!!

  • I can't believe it...FINALLY!! Thank you so much!!!!

  • Not only did this not work, the second set of instructions was totally wrong. Had to find my own way to that system screen: Control Panel > All Control Panel Items >Performance Information and Tools > Adjust Visual Effects is how I got there. Did everything you said, no change at all. I'm still seeing the same stock image repeated instead of an actual image thumbnail.

  • There are moments in which our brain seems to have forgotten most of what it knew.
    In such moments, it is great to know that someone has taken the trouble to write it down for the forgetful and others. Thank you for your effort.

  • Thanks a lot! I never knew it was so simple. I hope you continue contributing help for others! :)

  • It worked..!! thank you very much.. Clear explanation, good work :)

  • I do not have the option "Show thumbnails instead of icons" in Performance Option or Folder Options. What can I do from here? Can someone Help me?

  • its very good, its helps me a lot. thank u

  • These are options are still not working for me. I have Windows 7 Professional. i7 3770, 8Gb Vengence 1.6, onboard graphics intel hd4000. I am not getting where mi going wrong..

  • Toshiba Satellite, windows 8.1. Second option worked perfectly.

  • Sometimes Explorer has a brain-fart and you can fix your broken thumbnails by either rebooting your PC, or using task-manager to kill the "explorer" process, then using task manager to run "explorer" again.

    Bingo - all fixed.

    Sometimes the problem is that your Windows drive (for example Drive C:) is almost full! Delete some unimportant data and you can see the preview of your images!

  • Simple and effective. Glad I came to this page as I was pulling my hair as to what was wrong.

  • Thank you so much. This solution was very useful to me!

  • Saved my ass...!

    Thank you very much!!

  • Thank you! Can't believe how long I just put up with this.

  • thank you for the help
    working in windows 10

  • Thanks a lot ....its really helpful dear.. salute to u for sharing this information...

  • thank you, see you soon for some more problem solving.

  • Did not work for me, all my file folder icons turn into a white icon as long as thumbnails are enabled... this is like the 8th fix ive tried

  • Thanks a Million. I struggled with this dumb problem for so long. I do a lot of file transfers and it helps a lot to be able to see thumbnails of my files. After seeing this, I can now move faster in my work because I can see my thumbnail previews.

  • It doesn't work i tried every tutorial! I already did the first step a buch of time and the second one too! but there a problem i noticed and i don't know if it's suppost to happen when check "Show thumbnails instead of icons" and i click the apply button and i close it, it doesn't do anything! and when i do it again its unchecked! :(
    Im so stressed right now... ;(
    Someone help me..
    And im sorry for my bad english...

  • thanks a lot, this saved me a lot of time

  • This all did not work for Windows 8.1 Pro 32 bit
    Somebody know the solution ????
    Please HELP

  • Thanks so much. i cant stand opening every single picture to figure out if its the 1 im looking for. very helpful

  • Thank you very much, you save so much my time!

  • Thanks VG. You have a gift for simplifying what the people at Microsoft whose product Windows is, only succeed in making complicated and without providing viable solutions.

    You are doing the Lord's work.

    With much appreciation and thanks,

    Bob DeS

  • If all of the suggested settings have been made and still not all thumbnail pictures are showing, try the following:

    In control panel, go to system\advanced system settings\performance\Advanced\virtual memory
    Change from "Let Windows choose" to "custom size" for each drive you are viewing. Use initial size larger than the recommended value.

  • Thanks VG. The first fix worked perfectly. You have made me a happy bunny :)


  • None of the solutions here worked for me.

    After searching some more it turned out that the K-Lite codec pack had installed a dll file to handle all thumbnails for video. And that didn't work. Uninstalling that codec pack solved the problem.

    Thumbnails are now showing again.

  • If you are still having problems after trying seemingly everything, then try deleting stuff from your default drive (C:\ Drive) because when it becomes full up it stops generating thumbnails.

    I spent well over an hour today trying all these different methods and nothing worked. So I just resorted to deleting unnecessary stuff that's clogging my drive and it worked wonders. I noticed I was able to get thumbnails back when it reached a minimum of 1 GB remaining space.

    If this doesn't work try performing a disk clean-up.

    Hope this helped! <3

  • Like you, I too have spent too long reading and/or trying different solutions to the problem, and I JUST scored success, and you may be able to as well now, so listen-up!

    My PC was not loading nearly all thumbnail images, although a few random thumbnails COULD be seen, and I found no correlation with what images DID display a thumbnail versus which ones did not, but this issue has been annoying me to no end, and reading of lots of OTHER people's victories & success stories can start to get frustrating when they don't apply to you or your situation.

    HOWEVER, I had to go back and try a "solution" offered here that does not at all SEEM to apply to my situation, but therein I did find the solution!!!

    My PC had issues showing thumbnail images, K? Now that has nothing to do with Adobe Reader or whatever... I understand that it might have something to do with Windows Explorer, but my issue had nothing to do with Adobe Reader... OR SO I THOUGHT!

    I finally got my thumbnails visible again (after several other, more common techniques offered earlier in this thread had failed) by basically doing (one of) two things:

    1. Going into Folder Options and near "Always Show Icons, Never Thumbnails", I ticked it with a checkmark-- even though the box was appropriately un-ticked and empty, and even though this is counter-intuitive to what I ultimately want-- then clicked "Apply", then "OK". Then I opened up the Folder Options again and appropriately UN-ticked the box once again (making it empty) near "Always Show Icons, Never Thumbnails", clicking "Apply" and then "OK".

    2. Then-- EVEN THOUGH MY ISSUE (seemingly) HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH PDFs OR ADOBE-- I opened-up Adobe Reader (for those who do not know, this is a program you might never actually launch from your computer's Start-up Menu, but it likely IS installed on your computer anyways. Find it, open it, and the helpful advice posted above suggests to update it.). I did not update it (even though mine said that an update was/is available), but I did select "Edit", then "Preferences", then at the bottom I clicked "Select Default PDF Handler". The only option listed was the default, Adobe Reader XI, so I then clicked "Apply". BAM!!! This is the crucial step, I believe, because the program rebooted, and the icons on my Desktop flashed for an instant. Even though I never actively launch Adobe Reader and rarely ever read PDFs on my PC, the program apparently needed to finish some sort of process that involved my clicking "Apply". Once I did, something DID occur, but instead of checking to see if my problem had been resolved, I decided to be patient, and finalize my steps with a third step:

    3. Rebooted the computer.

    Once I launched Windows again, thumbnail images finally became visible as they should be!

  • Thank you for Solving my problem !

    I couldn't see my photo's display (thumbnail) on any folder !
    You fixed ma problem Thanks again !


  • My .jpj's have always functioned, but any Video, mp4, no matter what player, or check box for (show icons instead of thumbnail (un-checked)), just will not display Thumbs.. I did think it had something to do with performance, but alas, NOT! HELP Please. Tried different bit sets in associated registers (0/1), I just am unable to solve. My other two HP Laptop's have both the same set of parameters as this one, (Windows10) is installed and they are fine, 16g/1T, AMD Quads, Hardware wise. Do You know what a TS extension means? (does display thumbs)? A lot of Thanks if You have seen this problem, Take Care.

  • VG

    ^^ It seems a 3rd party software problem to me. Try following:


  • hi dude..thanks a lot..u really made my day..

  • Windows 10 Pro... Solved...! Thank You...!



  • Make more freespace on drive C. I had same problem, above settings did not help (was same before), after deleting some files on drive C problem disapeared.

  • I have a problem with change size of folder, my folder is small in size, when I changed it to large icon, it worked, then I restarted my PC, my folder is back to the small size. Could everyone have me!!

  • I want to show thubnails only for files, not on folders.
    How to do that?

  • new .mp4 video files aren't generating a thumbnail, the ones i copied from my old computer came up fine but the new ones will not no matter what i tried on this thread

  • Simple Soluiton : Problem - Windows Search

    >Ordem By name, UNCHECK "Windows Search". If disabled "UNCHECK" Too!

    Well done!

  • Thank you so much! Such a simple fix. It's been driving me nuts. All images are now showing. Thanks again :)

  • Additional comment: This fix works on Win 10 :)

  • Thank you

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