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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 a generic icon/thumbnail.

This article tells you how to enable thumbnail preview and the preview handlers in File Explorer on Windows 10/11 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:

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 → Advanced tab → Performance → Settings → Show thumbnails instead of icons → OK

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

See also

[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 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.

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.

See also

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.

To work around 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.

This should bring back the thumbnails in OneDrive folders.

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 the Folder Options dialog.

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

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