Thumbnail Previews not showing in Windows File Explorer

This post will help you if your Thumbnail Previews are not showing in Windows File Explorer and show you how you can enable or disable Thumbnails in Windows 8 or Windows 7 explorer.

Whenever you open Explorer and view images, you see the miniature of the image in its icons place. These are called Thumbnails. But if you see only its default icon, then this post will help you fix the issue.

Thumbnail Previews not showing

First open Disk Cleanup Utility and use it to delete Thumbnails. This will clear your Thumbnail cache. Next, open Control Panel and click open Folder Options. Here under the View tab, ensure that Always show icons, never thumbnails is unchecked.

show Thumbnail Preview

Click Apply and Exit.

Alternatively, you could do the following. Open Control Panel, select All Control Panel Items and then click on System. Now, on the left side, you will see Advanced system settings. Click on it.

Next, under the Advanced tab, click on Performance Settings. Under the Visual Effects tab, you will see Show thumbnails instead of icons. Make sure that this option is checked. Click on Apply and Exit.

Thumbnail Previews are not showing

You may be required to restart explorer.

Once you have done this, you will be able to see Thumbnail Previews for images, videos and other file types in File Explorer in Windows 10/8.1.

On a related note, did you know that Explorer Thumbnails offer four border options, viz. No border, Straight border, Photo border and Shadow border. See how you can change Thumbnail Preview Border in Windows.

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Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.


  1. Kush

    thanks.. πŸ™‚

  2. Visceron

    I’ve came across this same solution many times and it has yet to fix my problem.

  3. Wesleypipes77

    Same here, can’t seem to find any other solution and this does not help…..

  4. claudio

    At last! **THANKS**. Btw, how come it happens so often that settings change by themselves ??? :o)

  5. Mack Lobell

    This is weird bug. Some of my pics have icon, some have thumbnails, all in same folder. If I move a picture (with icon) from my picture folder to desktop (and then go to file explorer > desktop) I can suddenly see that thumbnail! And vice versa, if I move that picture back to original folder, that thumbnail disappears and there’s that icon again…?? =(

    I have tried all tips above and cleared thumbnail cache with disk cleanup and all.. but still no solution. In Properties, I’ve optimized folder for pictures. I’m also using Win10 now and this seems to be a bigger problem now than what it was in Win7.

  6. Matt

    I’ve had the same issue Mack, and yet to fix the problem. I am a photographer too and it is not ideal when I have 500+ photos to edit with no way to do so. Oh also when I go into safe mode everything is fine, all images thumbnails, program thumbnails and so on all working perfectly.

  7. Steve Teignbridge Sleahcim

    Have you found an answer yet, as this is doing my head in

  8. Denis Roger

    Hi Mack,

    My problem was some thumbnails were shown some don’t even inside the same folder.

    Tried it all and nothing worked, until I finally found a solution.
    The solution is that in the same Performance Options shown on this post,

    That was the only solution that could solve my partial shown thumbnails.

  9. Jim Goit

    Worked like a charm. Thanks so much.

  10. xmus

    this didn’t work for me. i’m trying to move photos off an android phone in windows 10, but i can only see the thumbnails for about 1/4 of them.

  11. Jenniffer Rees

    OMG this fixed my issue….I’ve been trying to find this solution for nearly an hour now.

    Thank you, you’re a life saver!

  12. DaveyG

    Recently got my Windows 10 upgrade and all was fine for a couple of weeks then thumbnail previews in File Explorer disappeared overnight. At the same time the thumbnails for Windows Apps (Edge, Calculator & Store) that are pinned to my task bar disappeared also. The links are still there but no images. I have tried all the common fixes that appear here and elsewhere with no results. When I attempted to access the Thumbnail cache to empty it and let the system rebuild it- I can’t find it πŸ™ . I tried to access the cache through System Cleanup and again – it ain’t there. I suspect that the file has been removed in one of these ‘mandatory’ updates.
    This is driving me nuts and someone somewhere must have the answer – it is way beyond this simpleton’s skill set.

  13. Thanks dude it works πŸ™‚

  14. Nancy Williamson

    Have tried all things listed here. Still unable to view files in preview pane. trying to see previews of SVG file in windows 10. HELP pretty please.

  15. thomas elvidge

    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

  16. BART

    THANK you, this is what the problem was! I didn’t think of it because while my C: drive was full, my E: drive still has tons of space left. But I cleared about 20 GB from C: and hey, thumbnails are back!

  17. billy

    great thanks

  18. Ravi

    I am not able to see thumbnails only of images stored on mobile storage

  19. Ravi

    The above recommendation does not work, for thumbnails of images from android mobile. Let it be Windows XP or 10

  20. Heather

    I had high hopes, but this didn’t change anything for me. My pngs don’t show thumbnails, but my jpgs do.

  21. Renata Gomes Tpm

    Hi everybody! I wasn’t able to see thumbnails for big files (larger than 10mb). Then I decided to check the configurations of XnView Shell Extension and SageThumbs, both programs very useful for my work (graphic design). And the problem was right there. Both configuration of them have the option “not show thumbnail for files greater than ( )” and you set the size you want. Originally the size was set to 10 mb in both program and this was interfering in the visibility of windows explorer thumbnails. I simply increased to 900 mb and the problem is solved πŸ™‚ Hope this may help someone!

  22. puputeh24

    Thanks so much for the tips

  23. Fried Toast

    This is driving me nuts. Another photographer here. No idea why this started and no idea how to fix it. The thumbnails will initially load, and then all revert to their icon. Unfortunately the Save Taskbar Thumbnail Previews changed nothing for me. πŸ™

  24. Fried Toast


    Just like magic. Once you said it, it completely made sense. And worked like a charm.

  25. Skity

    THANK YOU! as a computer technician this made me lose it.

  26. Patty O'Heater

    Mer too. I have two computers, both with the exact same operating system and the exact same settings as described above. Both were fine until a few days ago when I lost all thumbnails on one. Obviously it’s the one I use to store my videos on that has lost the thumbnails!

  27. Gregarious123

    Anand, thank you so much for your guidance. Much appreciated.

  28. Gita Ramanan

    super! Thank you. πŸ™‚

  29. Tina Demetrius

    i just tried the first option alone and it didnt work in the long run and now i ‘ve done both….its working fine. Thanks.

  30. savageseas

    Thanks, fixed the problem instantly.

  31. Pamela Bourque

    this did not work, I am still seeing a flower image instead of my .
    png thumbnails

  32. Pamela Bourque

    I’ve got 86% of c drive free. still can’t see thumbnails of .png

  33. Pamela Bourque

    exactly. Nothing is working for them

  34. Joshua Boldt

    In the first sentence you say, “Open Control Panel and click open Folder Options.” This only works if they have reverted to the older style icon view of the Control Panel. If they still have the default category view for the Control Panel they won’t see Folder Options, they will have to type “folder” into the “Search Control Panel” box at the top right and then Folder Options will appear.

  35. Sushant Trivedi

    thanks Anandk Uncle…………

  36. trashy

    Not working for win 10 … but after restarting the explorer process in task manager it worked again.
    Why is something that simple always broken in windows?

  37. Ernest Williams

    I had a problem with some of my comic book files not showing thumbnails. They were in .cbr and .cbz, but most others in those formats showed thumbnails. I tried CBX Shell, CDisplay Ex, SageThumbs and MysticThumbs. These are good apps that work for most people. I gave up and I was installing K-Lite Mega Codec Pack 13.2.4 under the highest custom install option and saw it had SageThumbs and I checked it. For some reason it perfectly this time every comic book as a thumbnail. P.S, I just added QTTabBar extension to Windows File Explorer which has many great ways to add or enhance many things about Windows File Explorer. It makes pop up preview windows for comic books after you add the file .cbr and .cbz to preview in Options.

  38. SuspiciousTumbleweed Cosplay

    Hello!! I’ve solved the problem for myself. None of the tricks shown to me worked so I tried something on my own.
    Iuploaded about 6 of my images to drop box (or anything would work i
    imagine) And then I re downloaded them and replaced the originals.
    Once those 6 images were back in my folder, all my thumbnails
    automatically came back. I guess it just needed a push of some sort.
    I won’t pretend to understand it but I’m glad it worked. Hell I was going to redownload it all but it just worked on its own.

  39. Izumi_Haruhiko

    this method does not work pls help, its really packing up a lot of stress for my head not able to see any thumbnails on what iam working with.

  40. Megan Hurst

    Thanks! This worked like a charm!

  41. Andromeda Wins

    micro soft is buggy

  42. Karl Airey

    Thank you sir!!!

  43. Karl Airey

    The solution is that in the same Performance Options shown on this post,

  44. walter

    yes this did it!!
    everything else was a no go!

  45. Jeff Ryan

    This doesn’t work. Thanks a lot.

  46. Kang Tri

    This happen after settings of the Windows 10 is change to “Best Performance”.
    Thank’s for any solution…

  47. Josh

    That absolutely worked for me. Thanks very much Denis!

  48. Sharon J. Heaney

    I queried about showing preview in windows 10. Your reply to go into Control Panel’s “Folder Options” gave me hope until I realized you had no idea what you’re talking about. There is no such category in Window’s 10 Control Panel and in trying to hope the best I saw no other path in your blog to help me find a solution. Obviously you know how to tag people to view your page but have no ability to assist or you just don’t care how many people you annoy as long as you get the bimbo few..

  49. Mohammed

    Thanks . it was helpful

  50. Namtab

    for me, it was a program i had installed recently called MediaInfo. See if you have any similar programs which mess with file types in windows.

  51. Siko

    Settings , deleting thumbs & free up space DIDN’T work for me.
    SageThumbs FIXED IT!
    Finally !

  52. Moi

    DUDE. I could kiss you right now.

  53. Bryon Harris

    I’ve literally seen this as the ONLY answer possible, but it DOES NOT work. All of my thumbnails are still blank white paper. -_-

  54. If none of this solutions works for you, I found an easy one. Just copy the images without preview and paste them back in the same folder. You will now get the preview back and can just delete the originals.

  55. Madhur

    thank you. it worked.

  56. Ben Ng

    Okay, the above method doesn’t work. But this one does:

    1. Head down to “This PC”. Under Devices and drives, right click on C: drives and select properties.
    2. Click on Disk Cleanup
    3. [IMPORTANT] Unchecked everything and check/select only “Thumbnails”
    4. Click Okay and refresh your File Explorer.

  57. Brendan Leighton

    Check the more recent comments for another solution that should fix all thumbnails on your computer!

  58. Brendan Leighton

    Check the more recent comments for another solution!

  59. Brendan Leighton

    Open any Folder on your computer >> Click on “View” Tab >> Click on “Options” (this is the “Folder Options” window) >> Click on “View” tab >> Uncheck the box that says “Always show icons, never thumbnails”

    Hope this helps!

  60. 1UpJumpman

    I didn’t try MOST of what was listed here but I found a surprising fix to my issue! If you have Dropbox or Realtek downloaded, just try uninstalling them via the control panel. I think what gravitated me towards thinking Dropbox was a potential issue was that I had messed around with some Services involving Dropbox yesterday that had to do with startup actions (but not just itself in the “startup” menu, something a little different in some other options in the Services). So try that before fiddling with more severe system settings. Additionally, try uninstalling what may be malware.

  61. Victor Getov

    Perfect !!! THANK YOU !!!

  62. king

    It happens because User Folders like Desktop/Pictures has Changed its location to Overdrive / Dropbox instead of Desktop/ Pictures,
    To fix this you can
    1.Open file Explorer and
    2. Goto Desktop folder Properties
    3. under location Tab click on Restore to defaults .
    which will change location of the folder to desktop and now if any missing items on your computer you can get it from overdrive/Dropbox folder , Repeat the Steps for other folders to fix the issue.

  63. Mary Stewart

    Wonderful!! It worked. I had to upload and re-download all of the files, but it was worth it and pretty quick. Thank you so much!!

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