Thumbnail previews not showing on Windows 10 [FIX]


Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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Thumbnail previews not showing

Thumbnails are rather useful, and many users prefer using thumbnails over icons. However, many users reported that thumbnail previews aren’t showing in File Explorer.

This can be an annoying problem, and today we’re going to show you how to fix it on Windows 10.

What to do if thumbnail previews aren’t showing?

1. Check File Explorer Options

This problem can occur in File Explorer due to your settings. Windows has the ability to show icons instead of thumbnails, and if this option is turned on, your thumbnails won’t appear at all.

To fix the problem, you just need to find this setting and disable it. This is rather simple and you can do it by following these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter folder options. Select File Explorer Options from the menu.
    file explorer options search results Thumbnail previews not showing
  2. After File Explorer Options window opens, go to View tab and make sure that Always show icons, never thumbnails option is unchecked.
  3. Now click on Apply and OK to save changes.
    always show icons some thumbnails not showing windows 10

Even if this option is disabled, try to enable it and save changes. Now, wait for a minute or two, disable it again and save changes. After doing that check if the problem still appears.

In most cases, this option is the main cause of this problem, but after disabling it the issue should be resolved.


Is File Explorer slow on Windows 10? We’ve got the right fix for you!


2. Use the UNC path to access the shared folder

Several users reported this problem while trying to access a shared folder.

According to them, thumbnails won’t appear while trying to access a network drive using its letter, but by using the UNC path, such as IP_address\sharename they were able to fix this problem.

Using this method Windows will generate thumbnails again, but keep in mind that this process can take a while. This isn’t the best solution, but it’s a solid workaround, so feel free to try it out.


3. Check your context menu

Third-party photo viewers can sometimes cause this problem to appear.

According to users, ACDSee is one potential cause of this problem. It seems that Windows used codecs from ACDSee to generate the thumbnails and that caused the problem to appear.

To fix the issue, just right-click the image that is missing the thumbnail and you should see two preview options. Try using any of these preview options and check if that solves the problem.

In addition, be sure to refresh your screen after choosing a preview option. This is an unusual solution, but few users reported that it works, so feel free to try it out.

If you’re not using ACDSee, this solution might not work for you.


4. Restore File Explorer Options to default

Your File Explorer settings are usually the cause for this problem, but few users claim that you can fix it by resetting these settings to default.

This is rather simple and you can do it by following these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer Options. For detailed instructions on how to do that, check Solution 1.
  2. When File Explorer Options window opens, click on Restore Defaults button.
    restore defaults png thumbnails not showing windows 10
  3. Navigate to View tab and click on Restore Defaults button. Now click on Apply and OK to save changes.
    view file explorer options Thumbnail previews not showing

After resetting File Explorer Options to default settings, the problem should be resolved completely.


5. Run SFC scan

Sometimes these types of problems can occur if your system files are corrupted. File corruption can occur due to various reasons, but you can fix it by performing an SFC scan.

To perform this scan, you need to do the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + X to open Win + X menu. Choose Command Prompt (Admin) from the menu. If Command Prompt isn’t available you can also use PowerShell as administrator.
    command prompt admin some thumbnails not showing windows 10
  2. When Command Prompt starts, you just need to enter sfc /scannow command and press Enter. Windows will now scan your system for file corruption and fix any corrupted files. This process can take up to 15 minutes, so don’t interrupt it.

Once the scan is completed your files will be repaired and the problem should be resolved. After completing the scan, repeat Solution 1 and check if that fixes the problem.


Epic guide alert! Everything there is to know about System File Checker is right here!


6. Download the Fix it tool

Microsoft has its own tool that can fix various problems related to both files and folders. The application can fix various problems including missing icons, thumbnails, etc.

To use this tool, simply download this file and run it on your PC. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete the troubleshooter.

This is a small but useful tool, and since it comes from Microsoft it’s completely safe to use. After the troubleshooter fixes the problem, feel free to repeat Solution 1 and check if your thumbnails appear.


7. Use Disk Cleanup to remove your thumbnails

Your thumbnails use thumbnail cache, but if the thumbnail cache is corrupted you might experience this problem. To fix the issue, you need to remove the thumbnail cache and Windows will recreate it. This is a simple process and you can do it by following these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter disk cleanup. Select Disk Cleanup from the menu. Alternatively, you can just open the Start Menu and type disk cleanup to search for it.
    disk cleanup search results png thumbnails not showing windows 10
  2. Once Disk Cleanup starts you’ll be asked to select the drive you wish to scan. Select your System drive, by default it should be C, and click on OK.
    drive selection disk cleanup Thumbnail previews not showing
  3. Wait while Disk Cleanup scans your drive.
    disk cleanup scan Thumbnail previews not showing
  4. When Disk Cleanup window appears, check Thumbnails from the list and click on OK. Few users are suggesting to select Temporary files as well, so you might want to do that.
    select thumbnails disk cleanup some thumbnails not showing windows 10

Windows will now remove the thumbnail cache from your PC. Once the thumbnail cache is removed, Windows will generate it again and your problem should be resolved completely.

If you need a faster way to remove your thumbnail cache, you can do it by running this .bat file. This file will run several commands and it should remove all thumbnail cache from your PC.

Keep in mind that this script is slightly outdated, so you might experience problems on Windows 8 and 10.

If you’re an advanced user, you can remove thumbnail cache by using Command Prompt. Using Command Prompt you can remove the cache simply by running a couple of commands.

To delete thumbnail cache, do the following:

  1. Close any File Explorer windows.
  2. Now open Command Prompt as administrator.
  3. Optional: You might have to close Windows Explorer completely to complete this process. To do that, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager. Locate Windows Explorer, right click it and choose End Task from the menu. You can also do that quickly by entering taskkill /f /im explorer.exe in Command Prompt.
    task manager end task png thumbnails not showing windows 10
  4. In Command Prompt, enter the following commands:
    • cd /d %userprofile%AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer
    • attrib -h thumbcache_*.db
    • del thumbcache_*.db
  5. After running these commands, restart your PC and check if the problem still appears.

Learn how to delete temporary files with Disk Cleanup like a real expert!


8. Restore default settings for the problematic folder

If thumbnail previews aren’t showing, you might be able to fix the problem simply by resetting folder settings to default. This is relatively simple, and you can do it by following these steps:

  1. Navigate to the problematic folder.
  2. Right click the empty space in it and choose Properties from the menu.
    properties context menu Thumbnail previews not showing
  3. Navigate to Customize tab and click on Restore Default. Now click on Apply and OK to save changes.
    customize tab some thumbnails not showing windows 10

This is a simple solution and if you’re having problems with missing thumbnail previews you might want to try it out.


9. Free some space on your system drive

Several users claim that this problem can occur due to lack of space on your C drive. To fix the problem, you need to free some space on your C drive and your thumbnails will appear again.

The simplest way to do that is to uninstall large applications or remove large files. Alternatively, you can use Disk Cleanup tool to remove any old and unused files and free up space with ease.


10. Check advanced system settings

If thumbnail previews are missing on your PC, you can enable them by changing advanced system settings.

To fix the problem, you just need to enable two options in the Advanced system settings section.

To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + S and enter advanced system settings. Choose View advanced system settings from the menu.
    view advanced system settings search results png thumbnails not showing windows 10
  2. In the Performance section click on Settings button.
    system properties window Thumbnail previews not showing
  3. List of options will appear. Check Save taskbar thumbnail previews and Show thumbnails instead of icons. Now click on Apply and OK to save changes.
    performance options window some thumbnails not showing windows 10

After enabling these two options, your thumbnails should appear again and everything will start working without any issues.


11. Remove problematic applications

Sometimes your thumbnails might not be showing due to third-party applications. Third-party software can sometimes interfere with Windows settings and cause this problem to appear.

According to users, this problem can appear due to video and audio recording software. If you installed any audio or video recording software recently, be sure to remove it and check if that solves the problem.

If the issue still persists, you might want to try removing other third-party applications from your PC and check if that fixes the problem.

Sometimes it might be hard to find the problematic application, so you might have to use trial and error method.

Few users claim that their problem was Java, and after removing it the issue was resolved. If you need to use Java, be sure to update it to the latest version and check if that solves your problem.


Want to remove a problematic application for good? Try one of these uninstaller applications!


12. Install the necessary codecs

Windows can’t play video files if certain codecs are missing, and sometimes missing codecs can cause thumbnails not to appear. To fix the issue, you need to install the missing codecs and the problem should be resolved.

According to users, installing Shark codecs fixed the issue, so you might want to try that. Of course, you can try other codec packs such as K-Lite instead.


Don’t have codecs on your PC? You can download them right here!


13. Use Group Policy Editor

Group Policy Editor is a powerful tool that allows you to control various settings on your PC.

This tool is available only on Pro and Enterprise versions of Windows, so if you’re using the Home version, you might want to skip this solution entirely.

To fix this problem using Group Policy Editor, you need to do the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter gpedit.msc. Press Enter or click on OK.
    gpedit run window some thumbnails not showing windows 10
  2. In the left pane, navigate to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar. In the right pane locate and double click on Turn off taskbar thumbnails.
    turn off taskbar thumbnails group policy editor png thumbnails not showing windows 10
  3. Select Disable and click on Apply and OK to save changes.
    disable policy turn off taskbar thumbnails Thumbnail previews not showing

There’s also another method you can use to fix the missing thumbnails. To do that, follow these simple steps:

  1. Start Group Policy Editor.
  2. In the left pane, navigate to User Configuration > Administrative templates > Windows components > File Explorer. In the right pane double click the Turn off the display of thumbnails and only display icons.
    turn off dislay of thumbnails some thumbnails not showing windows 10
  3. Now select Not Configured or Disabled and click on Apply and OK to save changes.
    turn off display of thumbnails disabled png thumbnails not showing windows 10

After making these changes in Group Policy Editor, the problem should be resolved.


Learn everything there is to know about Group Policy Editor from our detailed guide!


14. Scan your system for spyware

bitdefender antivirus Thumbnail previews not showing

Sometimes malicious applications can interfere with your system and cause this and other problems to appear. To fix the issue, you need to perform a spyware scan and remove any malicious files.

Users reported that scanning their system with Spybot fixed the problem, so be sure to download and try this tool.

We also suggest to perform a detailed scan of your system with your antivirus software and check if there are any other malicious files.


Got problems with spyware on your PC? Remove it right now with one of these applications!


15. Set a different default application for affected files

If you’re having problems with missing thumbnails, you might be able to solve the issue simply by setting a different default application for the problematic file type.

This is relatively simple and you can do it by following these steps:

  1. Right click the problematic file type and choose Open with > Choose another app from the menu.
    choose another app some thumbnails not showing windows 10
  2. Select the desired application and check Always use this app to open files option. Now click on OK to save changes.
    how to you want to open this file png thumbnails not showing windows 10

After doing that, the selected application will be a default app for this file type, and if everything is in order your thumbnails will appear again.

There are also other methods you can use to set default apps for specific file types. For example, you can set default apps in Settings app by following these steps:

  1. Open Settings app. The fastest way to do that is to press Windows Key + I.
  2. When Settings app starts, go to Apps section.
    Thumbnail previews not showing apps settings app
  3. Go to Default apps section in the left pane. In the right pane, scroll down and select Choose default apps by file type.
    choose default apps by protocol some thumbnails not showing windows 10
  4. List of all file extensions will appear. Locate the extension that has missing thumbnails and click the application next to it.
    file extensions choose a default app png thumbnails not showing windows 10
  5. Select the default application from the list or choose one from your PC.
    choose an app window Thumbnail previews not showing
  6. Repeat these steps for all extensions that have problems with missing thumbnails.

You can also set a default application for a specific file type from Control Panel. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Open Control Panel. You can do that by pressing Windows Key + S and entering control panel. Now choose Control Panel from the list.
    control panel search results some thumbnails not showing windows 10
  2. When Control Panel opens, select Default Programs.
    default programs control panel png thumbnails not showing windows 10
  3. Default Programs window will now appear. Go to Set your default programs.
    set your default programs Thumbnail previews not showing
  4. Select the application that you want to use for the problematic file type from the menu on the left. Now in the right pane click on Choose defaults for this program.
    choose defaults for this program some thumbnails not showing windows 10
  5. Now select the problematic file extensions from the list. After you’re done, click on Save.
    set associations for a program png thumbnails not showing windows 10

You can also use Associate a file type or protocol with a program option to fix this problem. To do that, do the following:

  1. Go to Default Programs and click on Associate a file type or protocol with a program.
    associate a file type or protocol with a program Thumbnail previews not showing
  2. List of all file extensions will appear. Select the problematic file type and double click it.
    associate a file type or protocol with a specific application some thumbnails not showing windows 10
  3. Now select the application you want to use for that file type.
    how to you want to open file from now on png thumbnails not showing windows 10
  4. Repeat this step for all problematic file types.

After you’re done, the problem should be resolved and your thumbnails will appear again.

Each of these methods will allow you to set a default application for a problematic file type, and you just have to choose the method that works best for you.


16. Install Paint Shop Pro

According to users, sometimes the problem with missing thumbnails can occur due to Paint Shop Pro software. Users reported that their thumbnails were missing while using the 32-bit version.

To fix the problem, you need to install both 32-bit and 64-bit version of the software. After doing that, the issue should be resolved completely.

However, the solution works only with Paint Shop Pro, so if you don’t have this tool installed, you might want to skip this solution.


17. Make sure that IconCodecService.dll is enabled

Few users claim that this problem started appearing after disabling IconCodecService.dll service. According to users, this service converts PNG icons to BMP icons, and if you disable it you might cause problems with your thumbnails.

To fix the issue, just enable this service and check if that solves the problem.


18. Upgrade your RAM

upgrade your ram Thumbnail previews not showing

Few users claim that this problem appeared due to insufficient RAM. Your RAM is an unlikely cause for this problem, but several users claim that they fixed the issue by installing more RAM.

In most cases your RAM shouldn’t affect thumbnail previews, but if you’re still having this problem you might want to try upgrading your RAM as a last solution.


Update your RAM with the best optimizers from our fresh list!


19. Use third-party thumbnail generator

If thumbnail previews aren’t showing, you might be able to fix the problem by using a third-party tool. There are many third-party thumbnail generators available that can help you fix this problem.

One of these tools is Icaros and after you install it your thumbnails should appear again.


20. Modify your registry

According to users, you might be able to fix this problem simply by making few changes in your registry. Keep in mind that registry holds sensitive information, so be extra cautious while modifying it. To fix this problem you need to do the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter regedit. Press Enter or click OK.
    regedit run window some thumbnails not showing windows 10
  2. Optional: Since modifying the registry is somewhat dangerous, we advise you to create a backup before making any changes. To do that, click on File > Export.
    export registry png thumbnails not showing windows 10Select All as Export range, enter the desired file name, choose a safe location and click on Save. If anything goes wrong after modifying your registry, you can use exported file to easily restore it to the original state.
    export range Thumbnail previews not showing
  3. In the left pane, navigate to
    • HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
  4. In the right pane, look for DisableThumbnails DWORD. If the DWORD isn’t available, right click the empty space in the right pane and choose New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Enter DisableThumbnails as the name of the new DWORD.
    new dword some thumbnails not showing windows 10
  5. Double click the newly created DisableThumbnails DWORD to open its properties. Now set the Value data to 0 and click OK to save changes.
    value data change png thumbnails not showing windows 10

After making these changes, restart your PC and check if the problem still appears.


Can’t access Registry Editor? Things aren’t as scary as they seem. Check out this guide and solve the issue quickly.


21. Prevent Windows from deleting your thumbnail cache

If thumbnail previews aren’t showing, that might be because Windows is deleting your thumbnail cache. Few users claim that you can fix this problem by preventing Windows from deleting the cache.

This solution can be potentially dangerous, so keep in mind that you’re changing these settings at your own risk. To change the security settings, do the following:

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter appdata. Press Enter or click OK.
    appdata run window Thumbnail previews not showing
  2. Navigate to Local\Microsoft\Windows directory. Locate Explorer directory, right click it and choose Properties from the menu.
    properties some thumbnails not showing windows 10
  3. Navigate to the Security tab and click on Advanced.
    security tab explorer properties png thumbnails not showing windows 10
  4. After Advanced Security Settings opens, click on Add button.
    add new user Thumbnail previews not showing
  5. Now click on Select a principal.
    select a principal some thumbnails not showing windows 10
  6. In Enter the object name to select field enter SYSTEM. Click Check Names button. If everything is in order, click on OK.
    select user or group window png thumbnails not showing windows 10
  7. Set Type to Deny and click on Show basic permissions. Uncheck all options except Delete subfolders and files and Delete. Click OK to save changes.
    permission entry window

After doing that, your system won’t have access to your thumbnails and it won’t be able to remove them.

Changing these settings might have some unexpected consequences on your system, so keep that in mind.

Thumbnails are quite useful and many users prefer using them over icons.

If for some reason thumbnail previews aren’t showing on your PC, feel free to try any solution from this article.

As you can see, there are plenty of solutions. Be sure to try the simpler ones first, to avoid all the technicalities, such as editing your registry.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2017 and has been since updated for freshness, and accuracy.

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