Fix: Thumbnail Previews Not Showing up in File Explorer

Are your image files showing up with a generic mountain and lake scene instead of the miniature or thumbnail display in File Explorer? And video files may show up with the default media player icon.

Thumbnails Previews Not Showing up in File Explorer

This article tells you how to enable thumbnail preview and the preview handlers in File Explorer on Windows 10 and earlier.

Fix: Thumbnails Previews Not Showing up in File Explorer

To view the thumbnails for your images, media or other file types, choose one of the following folder views from the ribbon toolbar:

  • Medium Icons
  • Large Icons
  • Extra Large Icons

If thumbnail previews are not still not displayed, follow the steps below.

Enable thumbnails via Folder Options

  1. From the File menu, click Options. This opens the Folder Options dialog.
  2. In the View tab of Folder Options, uncheck the following option:
    Always show icons, never thumbnails
  3. Click OK.

    Alternately, you can also enable thumbnails via the Performance Options dialog.

    Launch sysdm.cpl via the Run dialog → click Advanced tab → Performance → Settings → Show thumbnails instead of icons → OK

    Thumbnails Previews Not Showing up in File Explorer

This restores the thumbnail images for your pictures, media, and all other file types.

[Tweak] Enable or disable thumbnail view via the right-click menu

To toggle the display of thumbnail previews without going into Folder Options every time, here is a Windows Script solution for you that adds the Enable/Disable Thumbnails in the right-click menu.

  1. Download togglethumbs.zip and save it to the Desktop. The archive contains a registry file and a VBScript — both are plain-text files.
  2. Unzip the archive and extract the contents to a folder.
  3. Move the file togglethumbs.vbs to the C:\Windows directory.
  4. Double-click togglethumbs.reg to merge the contents to the registry.

The Enable/Disable Thumbnails option is now added to the context menu, which will be seen when you right-click on the Desktop and when right-clicking on an empty area in a folder.

Thumbnails Previews Not Showing up in File Explorer

This adds the Enable/Disable Thumbnails option to the right-click menu. This script works in Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 10.

And here is a small YouTube video — togglethumbs.avi


Clear the thumbnail cache

If the thumbnails still don’t show up in File Explorer, see if clearing the thumbnail cache using Disk Cleanup helps.

Thumbnails Previews Not Showing up in File Explorer


Thumbnails missing in OneDrive folders?

In some systems, the thumbnail previews don’t show up in the OneDrive Documents or Pictures folders, even though the files are available offline.



thumbnail previews don't show in onedrive folders

To workaround the problem, disable the Files On-Demand feature in OneDrive.

Launch OneDrive, open settings. On the Settings tab, disable the Save space and download files as you use them checkbox.

thumbnail previews do not appear on onedrive folders - files on-demand settings tab

This should bring back thumbnail preview in OneDrive folders on your Windows 10 computer.


Preview Pane not working?

If the preview pane on the right shows the generic image instead of the actual image preview or video mini-player control, you’ll need to enable the Show preview handlers in preview pane option in Folder Options dialog.

Thumbnails Previews Not Showing up in File Explorer

The thumbnail image, as well as the preview pane functionality, is now restored!

Thumbnails Previews Not Showing up in File Explorer

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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.

42 thoughts on “Fix: Thumbnail Previews Not Showing up in File Explorer”

  1. This is a nice trick but can you please make it appear in the context menus of libraries (when browing pictures or videos libraries)?

  2. thank you so much, it’s been along time I am looking for this to fix…thanks…
    Is it anybody know where can I free download nvidia nforce system management driver? thanks

  3. Thank you. I have been looking for two weeks for this answer (not very hard but still two weeks w/o being able to preview a jpg file w/o opening it 1st)

    God Bless you

  4. …wonderful!

    Using Classic Shell you can put an icon on menu bar to toggle it 1 click directly. ->Settings for Classic Explorer (3.6.5 or later) > Toolbar buttons> Avail. commands:> Custom commands. Just target the button to the togglethumbs.vbs on Windows directory. You can choose any icon, i.e. System32\imageres.dll, 71 or other ”pictures images”.

    If you want to install Classic Shell and disable start menu modifications:
    “On Vista and Windows 7 the classic start menu is started using the
    HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run registry key,
    which is shared by all users.” Remove the Classic Start Menu value:
    C:\Program Files\Classic Shell\ClassicStartMenu.exe

  5. The control folders directions worked for me. Thank you! I haven’t been able to see previews for over a year now and had no idea how that even happened.

  6. you’re a damn genius, all other websites give the basic “did you check off always show icons?” Finally, something useful!!

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