Disable Folder Thumbnails without Disabling Thumbnail Preview for Files

When a folder contains one or more images in it, the contents of the folder are shown as the thumbnail image for that folder.

disable folder content thumbnails

Windows allows you to enable or disable thumbnail previews in File Explorer using the Always show icons, never thumbnails setting in Folder Options dialog. When you turn off thumbnail previews, icons are shown instead of thumbnails — for both files and folders. The Folder Options dialog doesn’t have an option to disable thumbnail preview selectively for folders, or for files only.

If you need to disable folder content thumbnail previews, and still have the thumbnail previews enabled for files — e.g., PDF, image files, etc., this article tells you how to do that.

Disable Folder Thumbnails without Disabling Thumbnail Preview for Files

To turn off folder content thumbnail preview without enabling the Always show icons… setting in Folder Options, the trick is to set a global folder logo (thumbnail) in the folder view template registry key.

The important thing here is that the global folder thumbnail template registry entry must point to a non-existent image file, for this to work. And then, you’ll need to reset the thumbnails cache so that the thumbnails for existing folders are refreshed.

Follow these steps to disable folder content thumbnail previews:

  1. Copy the following lines to Notepad and save it as a .reg file — e.g., disable_folder_thumbs.reg
    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
    ;Disable folder thumbnails without disabling thumbnail view for files
    ;Created by Ramesh Srinivasan on 10-June-2019 for Winhelponline.com
    ;Note: This fix does NOT reset your saved folder view settings.
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags\AllFolders\Shell]
  2. Double-click disable_folder_thumbs.reg to apply the settings to the registry.
  3. Click Yes when prompted to apply the .reg file. This is how the setting will now look like in the Registry Editor:

  4. The next step is to clear the thumbnail cache so that thumbnail previews for the existing folders are refreshed. Follow one of the methods described in the article How to Clear and Rebuild the Thumbnail Cache in Windows

That’s it! You’ve now disabled folder thumbnails without disabling the thumbnail previews for files.

disable folder content thumbnails

Editor’s note: Despite the presence of the global folder thumbnail template in the registry, you can still override and customize the folder icon or thumbnail via folder properties, on a per-folder basis.

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About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 10 consecutive years from 2003 to 2012.

4 thoughts on “Disable Folder Thumbnails without Disabling Thumbnail Preview for Files”

  1. It was great, but at least in the latest version of Windows 10, you have to manually create this key in the path above, since the reg file didn’t work for me, and of course, there is no / left in the image that should be two /


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