Summary: Windows 10’s File Explorer stalls saying "Working on it…" during the folder type automatic discovery process. And in earlier versions of Windows especially Windows Vista, Windows may sometimes assign incorrect template for folders if the content discovery or sniffing goes wrong or the folder view settings in the registry are messed up.
For example, in earlier versions of Windows,when you open a folder containing text files, Windows may incorrectly assign it the Music template, and thereby showing all the irrelevant columns such as Artist Name, Album Title, Track Number, Genre etc.
Windows 10’s File Explorer "Working on it.."
Although incorrect folder type assignment is no longer a problem in recent versions of Windows, Windows 10’s File Explorer slows down or hangs when opening folders with large number of files.
Large number of files in a folder
If you have a folder containing huge number of files (especially your Downloads folder can become crowded over a period of time), opening File Explorer would lock up showing the message "Working on it…". The fix is to set the folder template manually, which seems to work for most users. This was posted by BarisGerceker at Microsoft Answers.
Set the Folder Type Template Manually
You can fix this problem on a per-folder basis using these steps:
1. Open the folder which has incorrect template assigned
2. Right-click on a empty area on the folder and choose Properties
3. Click the Customize tab
4. Under Optimize this folder for:, select the appropriate item from the list box.
5. Click OK.
Disable Folder Contents Sniffing (Discovery) by Windows
You can prevent Windows from sniffing folder contents and automatically assigning the folder type template. This is done by creating the following registry key using Registry Editor (alternately you can use the Registry fix below).
After creating the above key, create a new String (REG_SZ) value named FolderType and set its Value data to NotSpecified or Generic
NotSpecified (or Generic) value data corresponds to General items (All Items in previous versions of Windows) folder type template.
You can use the nofoldersniff.reg to automate the above registry setting.
What happens now?
After applying the above registry setting, when you open a folder for the first time, Windows looks for the AllFolders registry key and if it’s present, it reads the folder type template from there. So every new folder will have the General items folder template assigned by default, irrespective of what content the folder has. However, you can can still customize the folder type template if you need to, on a per-folder basis using the Customize tab as explained previously in this article.
Note: Existing folders whose FolderType setting was already assigned prior to applying the above registry setting, are not affected and continue to have the existing folder type template. And this registry setting does not prevent you from customizing the individual folder views and other settings.
Quick access view stuck? – For some users, the problem occurs only when opening the Quick access view which is where File Explorer opens to by default. In that case, try clearing the Quick access Pinned and Recent items by deleting the relevant .automaticdestinations-ms file. Also you can make File Explorer Open to "This PC" in Windows 10
About the author
Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.