In Windows 10, the File Explorer shows us tiny previews for videos and images that are stored on our system’s hard disk. Most of us are accustomed to browsing through our collection by looking at the thumbnail previews.
This is because these thumbnails give us a quick walk through the contents of the file explorer, and we do not need to open every single file that may have confusing file names. Thumbnail previews make the navigation process notably fast, but it comes with its own set of troubles that may encourage you to disable this feature on your Windows 10 system.
Building on this, understand how to enable and disable thumbnails previews in Windows 11/10.
Disable Thumbnail Previews in Explorer
Thumbnail previews can be a very useful feature as they let you view Windows files without opening them. The content of the File Explorer can be set to extra-large icons, large icons, medium icons, and details/tiles view, it is great for those who like to be organized. But as I said it brings its own set of troubles. The creation of thumbnails for quick navigation/previewing of files slows down the other file operations, affects system performance, and causes UI clutter. In such a case, disabling the feature is a good idea.
If your images or other files are displaying a generic Windows icon like mountain and lake scene for images or media player icon for video files, probably the Thumbnail Previews feature is disabled. On the other hand, if you can view a small snapshot of the content of the file the feature is enabled.
Here are different processes to enable and disable the thumbnail display feature:
- Via File Explorer Options
- Using Control Panel
- Using the Registry Editor
- Via Performance options
- Using the Group Policy Editor.
These processes are described in more detail below.
1] Enable or disable thumbnail previews via File Explorer Options
To disable follow these steps:
- Go the ‘File Explorer’ and click on the ‘File’
- In the ‘File Menu’ options, click on ‘Change folder and Search options’
- The above action will open the ‘Folder Options’ dialog box, here hit the ‘View’ tab.
- Now check the ‘Always show icons, never thumbnails’ option appearing under ‘Advanced Settings’.
- Click ‘Ok’ and ‘Apply’ settings.
To enable, follow the same aforementioned process until step ‘3’, and then uncheck the ‘Always show icons, never thumbnails’ option.
2] Show Thumbnail previews via Control Panel
To enable follow these steps:
- From the ‘Start Menu’ go to the ‘Control Panel’
- Click on ‘System and Security’ and hit ‘System’.
- Select ‘Advance System Settings’ appearing on the left-side panel.
- In the ‘System Properties’ window, click ‘Settings’ under the ‘Performance’ heading.
- Now in the ‘Performance Options’ dialog, click the ‘Visual Effects’ tab
- Check the ‘Show thumbnails instead of icons’ under the ‘Custom:’ heading.
- Press ‘OK’ and ‘Apply’ to save changes.
To disable thumbnail previews via Control Panel, uncheck the ‘Show thumbnails instead of icons’ under the ‘Custom:’ heading.
3] Using Registry Editor
1] Press the ‘Windows key + R’ to open the ‘Run’ dialog.
2] Type ‘regedit’ and press ‘Enter’.
3] Navigate to the below path:
4] On the right side of the Window, search for ‘IconsOnly’ and double-click on it.
5] Change values to Enable/Disable:
- ‘0’ to show thumbnails
- ‘1’ to hide thumbnails
6] Click ‘Ok’ to save changes.
4] Via Performance options
Follow these steps:
- Press the ‘Windows Key + R’ to open the ‘Run’ dialog.
- Type ‘SystemPropertiesPerformance.exe’ and press ‘Enter’.
- Now, check or uncheck the ‘Show thumbnails instead of icons’ options to enable or disable thumbnail previews in Windows 10.
5] Using Group Policy Editor
You can use the Group Policy Editor to enable/disable this feature. Follow these steps:
1] Press ‘Win + R’ keys to open the ‘Run’ dialog.
2] Now, type ‘gpedit.msc’ and press ‘Enter’.
3] When the window opens the browser to the following path:
User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer
4] Now, on the right-hand side of the window, double click on ‘Turn off the display of thumbnails and only display icons’
5] Click on ‘Enabled’ or ‘Disabled’ to turn the feature on/off.
You should now be able to enable the thumbnail previews easily.
Thumbnails still not showing in File Explorer
The thumbnail preview on Windows normally uses thumbnail cache. Hence, if the thumbnail cache gets corrupted this issue may occur, and clearing the thumbnail cache becomes imperative.
This post will show what to do if the Thumbnail Previews not showing in Windows File Explorer.
Do let us know if it was a smooth experience.