We’ll show you how to fix it if your computer stopped showing thumbnails and left you guessing when attaching a file to an email.
Thumbnails are extremely useful because they provide a small preview of an image or video’s contents. This eliminates the need to rename or open files in order to see what’s inside, which is a time-saving feature.
Unfortunately, Windows has issues with thumbnails on occasion. They may cease to function for a specific folder or file type, or your system may cease to display thumbnails for all files on your computer. We’ll show you how to use the right tools and settings to get Windows to display thumbnails again in this guide.
Choose the Correct File Explorer Settings
When it comes to viewing your files and folders, Windows 10 gives you a lot of options. However, thumbnail previews aren’t available in all options. Open the View tab in File Explorer and choose one of the following options:
- Extra large icons
- Large icons
- Medium icons
Try selecting any of these options to see if the problem is resolved. If it doesn’t, it’s a sign that the issue isn’t with you.
Reset the Folder to Its Default Settings
If you’re having trouble opening a particular folder, you can fix it by reverting to the default settings. Here’s how to go about it:
- Open the folder.
- Right-click anywhere on the empty space and select Properties.
- Open the Customize tab.
- Click the Restore Default button.
Reset File Explorer to Its Default Settings
You may also find that no matter which folder you open, Windows does not display the files and folder thumbnails. This problem can be caused by a rogue File Explorer setting, so resetting the File Explorer settings to defaults should fix it.
Here’s how to go about it:
- Launch File Explorer.
- Open the File menu and select Change folder and search options.
- In the General tab, click Restore Defaults.
- Select the View tab and click again the Restore Defaults button.
Check if you can now see the thumbnails for your files and folders after Windows restores the default settings. If this doesn’t work, try one of the other options.
Check File Explorer Options
Icons or thumbnails can be displayed by Windows, so if you’re seeing icons, check your File Explorer settings.
Here’s how to get File Explorer to show thumbnails once more:
- Launch Control Panel.
- Go to View by and select Small icons or Large icons.
- Click File Explorer Options.
- Open the View tab.
- From Files and Folders, uncheck the Always show icons, never thumbnails option.
- Click Apply > OK to save your new settings.
Set another Default App
Because Windows doesn’t know which app to use to open a particular file type, thumbnails for that file type may be missing. You’ll need to change your default application to fix the problem.
Right-click the file and select Open With > Choose another app from the drop-down menu. You can choose an app from the default list or search for a new one by clicking More apps. Check the Always use this app option as a final step.
Windows will now open that file type with the selected app, and thumbnails should appear.
Delete the Thumbnail Cache
A damaged or corrupted cache can cause Windows to stop showing thumbnails. Fortunately, you can quickly resolve this problem by using a built-in Windows tool.
To delete the thumbnail cache using the Disk Cleanup tool, follow these steps:
- Search for disk cleanup in the Start menu search bar and select the Best match.
- From Files to delete, uncheck all boxes except for Thumbnails.
- Click OK to start the process.
The thumbnail cache will be removed from your computer using Disk Cleanup. Windows will rebuild the cache and display the thumbnails once the process is complete.
Note: If your computer has multiple hard drives, you’ll need to choose the one where Windows 10 is installed.
Scan for Malware
Your computer may have malware if you are experiencing app crashes or generally poor performance in addition to missing thumbnails.
While Windows’ tools are constantly scanning your PC for malware, you can always run a manual scan, which we will show you how to do.
- Open Settings by pressing Win + I.
- Head to Security > Update & Security > Windows Security.
- Click the Open Windows Security button.
- Select Virus & threat protection.
- Click Quick Scan.
Windows Security will now perform a malware scan and generate a report for you.
Check the Performance Options
Reconfiguring the visual effect settings is another option for Windows 10 not displaying thumbnails. While it may appear difficult, only a few settings must be altered. Here’s how to go about it:
- Open Settings.
- Head to System > About.
- Scroll down and select Advanced system settings.
- In the Advanced tab, click the Settings button.
- Check the Save taskbar thumbnail previews and Show thumbnails instead of icons options.
- Click Apply > OK to save your new system settings.
Check Group Policy
You’ll frequently find yourself editing the Group Policy Editor when troubleshooting a problem on your Windows 10 computer. This is due to the fact that it houses some of the most important services and processes that keep Windows running.
To check the thumbnail settings in Group Policy, follow these steps:
- Press Win + R to bring up a Run dialog.
- Type gpedit.msc and click OK.
- Navigate to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar.
- From the right pane, open Turn off taskbar thumbnails.
- Select Disabled.
- Click Apply > OK.
This isn’t the only Group Policy setting worth double-checking. Navigate to User Configuration > Administrative Templates Windows Components > File Explorer in User Configuration > Administrative Templates Windows Components. There, select Turn off thumbnail display and only show icons. Select Disabled once more and click Apply.
Restart your computer after you’ve changed these settings to see if you can see the thumbnails.
Edit the Windows Registry
Windows Registry, like Group Policy, contains some of the most important system settings. As a result, you can use it to resolve the issue of missing thumbnails.
- In the Start menu search bar, search for regedit and select Run as administrator.
- Head to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > Policies.
- Open Explorer.
- Right-click on the empty space in the right pane and click New > DWORD (32-bit Value).
- Name it DisableThumbnails.
- Set Value data to 1.
- Set Base to Hexadecimal.
- Click OK.
- Close Registry Editor and restart your computer.
Thumbnails Should Return to Windows 10
The fact that Windows displays thumbnails instead of icons isn’t the most exciting feature of your system, but it is extremely useful. You can restore the thumbnails of your files and folders by following one or more of these solutions.
Also, if you don’t want anyone looking at your photos indiscreetly, you can disable thumbnails on your computer using our guide.