When a folder contains one or more images in it, the contents of the folder are shown as the thumbnail image for that folder.
Windows allows you to enable or disable thumbnail previews in File Explorer using the Always show icons, never thumbnails setting in the 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 has the solution.
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:
- Copy the following lines to Notepad and save it as a .reg file — e.g.,
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] "Logo"="d:\\somefile.jpg"
disable_folder_thumbs.regto apply the settings to the registry.
- Click Yes when prompted to apply the .reg file. This is how the setting will now look like in the Registry Editor:
- 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.
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.
To reverse the above changes (to enable folder thumbnails back), use this .reg file:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 ;UNDO REG file [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\Local Settings\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags\AllFolders\Shell] "Logo"=-
Save the above .reg file as
enable_folder_thumbs.regand run it.
(The registry method discussed in this article works on all versions of Windows 10 and Windows 11 22H2.)
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