If you’re here, you’re probably looking for solutions on how to fix the “thumbnails are not showing on Windows 10” issue. Usually, thumbnails show you an image, document, or video preview in File Explorer.

Windows 10 creates thumbnails by default, and they are stored in the thumbnail cache. When this feature fails, you see an icon instead of your image’s or video’s preview. This can be annoying, especially for those people who work with lots of images, like graphic designers and photographers.

Luckily, the issue is fixable. Below, we share several solutions to the “Windows is not showing thumbnails of photos” problem.

First, let’s get to the root cause of this matter. As earlier noted, you may open File Explorer one day and notice that thumbnails have been replaced by the default icons. The issue could be triggered by several factors, and it’s not easy to pinpoint the exact cause.

What’s more, each case is unique. Some users report that the thumbnail preview feature works with some photos but fails with others in the same folder.

Here are some of the typical causes:

  • Windows updates. Some people reported that Windows had stopped showing thumbnails of photos after an update or a major upgrade.
  • Corrupted thumbnail cache. The thumbnail cache for the specific files that you’re trying to access may be corrupted or missing. This could be triggered if the cache database has too many files.
  • Incorrect folder settings. The thumbnail preview option in File Explorer could have been disabled either by a third-party app or by someone you share your computer with.
  • Corrupt system files. This can occur due to several reasons, including malware infection.

Why Are Thumbnails Not Showing in Windows 11?

Windows 11 will soon be available for everyone. Currently, Windows Insiders can preview all the exciting features that the new OS has in store. For most people, the new enhancements are a welcome change. For others, not so much.

One of the biggest changes coming with Windows 11 is the revamped File Explorer. It now features rounded corners, and most of its features, including the icons, have been altered. You’ll also notice that Windows 11 no longer supports folder thumbnails. This feature was silently removed, and now users can’t recognize a folder by its thumbnail.

However, the thumbnail preview feature in File Explorer works the same as on previous Windows versions. It comes enabled by default in Windows 11, and you can choose between the medium, large and extra-large icons for better viewing.

If the thumbnail preview feature is disabled, you can’t preview the details of your images or videos. If the feature is disabled for some reason, follow these steps to turn it on:

  1. Launch File Explorer using the Win + E shortcut.
  2. In the top right corner, you should see three dots on the toolbar. Click on this icon and select “Options”. This opens “Folder Options”.
  3. If the “Always show icons, never thumbnails” option is checked, click on it to uncheck it and select Apply > OK.

You should now be able to preview thumbnails in File Explorer.

How to Fix Missing Thumbnails in Windows 10

Solution 1: Check File Explorer Options

The “thumbnails not showing” error could occur due to incorrect settings in File Explorer. Maybe you or someone else turned on the option to show icons instead of thumbnails. We’ll check “Advanced settings” in the File Explorer Options window to make sure everything is properly configured.

From Folder Options:

  1. Press the Windows logo on your keyboard, type Folder options, and select “File Explorer Options” from the results that appear.
  2. On the “File Explorer Options” pop-up screen, open the “View” tab and uncheck “Always show icons, never thumbnails” if it’s checked. Even if the option is disabled, turn it on, wait a few minutes, and then turn it off again.
  3. Click on Apply > Save to keep these changes.

Go back to File Explorer and check if Windows now shows the thumbnails of photos.

From Settings:

  1. Launch the Windows Settings app using the Win + I shortcut.
  2. Find and select “System” and go to the “About” tab in the left pane.
  3. On the right sidebar, under “Related settings”, select “Advanced system settings”.
  4. You’ll be taken to the “System Properties” window, where you’ll select “Settings” under the “Advanced” tab.
  5. In the “Performance Options” window, look for the “Show thumbnails instead of icons” option under “Visual Effects”, and make sure it’s checked.
  6. If not, click on the checkbox next to it and select Apply > OK.

Solution 2: 2

If the first fix doesn’t work, resetting File Explorer Options back to the factory defaults may just do the trick. Some settings may have been messed with, causing the problem to occur.

Here is how to proceed:

  1. Follow Step 1 in Solution 1above to open the File Explorer Options window.
  2. Next, under the “General” tab, click on the “Restore Defaults” option.
  3. Move to the “View” tab and select “Restore Defaults”.
  4. Click on Apply > OK to effect the changes.

Once you’ve reset File Explorer Options to the default settings, the issue of thumbnails not showing in Windows 10 should be resolved.

Restore the Default Settings for the Problematic Folder

If you’re experiencing the “thumbnails not showing” error with a specific folder, you can try resetting it to the factory defaults:

  1. Launch the problematic folder, right-click the empty space and select “Properties”.
  2. Find the “Customize” tab and click the “Restore Default” button.
  3. Click on Apply > OK to effect those changes.

Solution 3: Recreate the Thumbnail Cache

Windows 10 stores a cache file for every photo on your computer. Over time, the thumbnail cache grows too big, and the files contained therein can sometimes get corrupted. Rebuilding the thumbnail cache removes the existing files and repopulates the database with fresh ones.

Method I: Using Disk Cleanup

  1. Use the Win + E shortcut to launch File Explorer.
  2. Select “This PC” on the left pane, right-click C: Drive or your primary drive, and click “Properties”.
  3. Under the “General” tab, you’ll see the Disk Cleanup Click on it and be sure to check the “Thumbnails” option before selecting “OK”.
  4. Click on “Delete Files” to proceed.

Method II: Using Command Prompt

  1. Press the Win + R shortcut, type cmdinto the “Run” box and press the Ctrl + Shift + Enter shortcut. This launches the Command Prompt with admin rights.
  2. Select “Yes” on the UAC prompt.
  3. In the elevated Command Prompt window, type or paste the following commands one after the other and hit the “Enter” key after each one:
    • taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
    • del /f /s /q /a %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer\thumbcache_*.db
    • start explorer.exe
  4. Exit the Command Prompt and open the problematic folder with missing thumbnails. The issue should be resolved.

Method III: Using Auslogics BoostSpeed

If you don’t have the time or patience for performing all these processes or simply don’t know your way around the Windows environment, here’s an easier, more effective alternative.

Auslogics BoostSpeed offers advanced PC cleanup and tune-up functions. It explores your disk drives, identifies space hogs, and lets you review what you can delete. You’ll be surprised to find hundreds of unnecessary files and folders just lying around on your computer. You can then free up space and improve your system’s overall performance.

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That’s not all. The Clean Up tab gives you options to find duplicate files, empty folders, unused programs, and invalid registry entries and remove them. The last thing you want is files filling up your drives and slowing down the system. BoostSpeed offers you a fast and safe way to effortlessly clean out junk files.

You can also optimize your memory, processor, startup apps, and Windows tasks and features. This all-inclusive PC optimization tool offers real-time performance monitoring and delivers enhancements to keep your PC running smoothly and fast.

Solution 4: Run SFC and DISM Scans

Another method that seems to work in fixing the “Windows has stopped showing thumbnails of photos” problem is repairing or replacing system files. Windows comes with built-in tools designed to help users fix corrupted system files.

First, we’ll start by running the System File Checker (SFC) tool. Here is how to do that:

  1. Press the Win + R shortcut, type CMDinto the “Run” dialog box, and hit the Ctrl + Shift + Enter shortcut. This opens an elevated command prompt.
  2. Type the command sfc /scannow, and press “Enter”.

Windows will start scanning your files to check for corruption and replace them with fresh copies. The scan can take around 15 minutes, so wait patiently for it to complete.

Next, you’ll need to run the Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) tool. Here is how to do so:

  1. Open the Command Prompt with administrator rights as shown above and execute the following commands one after the other:
    • DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth
    • DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth
    • DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
  2. This scan may take longer, and once it’s done, reboot your system.

After a successful restart, the “thumbnails not showing on Windows” glitch should be fixed.

Solution 5: Reinstall OneDrive

If you use Microsoft OneDrive to back up your files, it could be the culprit behind the thumbnail issue on Windows 10, which is probably due to file corruption. Here is how to fix it:

  1. Right-click the Windows Start button and select Settings or use the Win + X keyboard shortcut and click Settings. Alternatively, press the Win + I shortcut to launch the Settings app.
  2. Select Apps > Apps & Features.
  3. In the next window, search for Microsoft OneDrive (use the search box) to quickly find it and click on it to reveal additional settings.
  4. Choose “Uninstall”, and then click on “Uninstall” once again.
  5. Click “Yes” when you get a UAC prompt.
  6. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the uninstallation process and then restart your PC.
  7. Next, visit Microsoft’s official website to download OneDrive.
  8. Install it and check if the missing thumbnails in Windows have been restored.

Solution 6: Use the Group Policy Editor

Windows 10 users can use the Group Policy Editor to control various configurations on their PCs. The tool is available on Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise versions only. If you’re using Windows 10 Home, skip this solution.

To fix thumbnails not showing in Windows 10, follow these guidelines:

  1. Bring up the “Run” console using the Win + R shortcut.
  2. Type mscinto the input field and press “Enter” on your keyboard or click on the “OK” button.
  3. In the left sidebar, go to this path: User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar.
  4. In the right sidebar, you should see the “Turn off taskbar thumbnails” option. Double-click on it to launch its properties.
  5. Click on “Disable” and select Apply > OK.

Here’s an alternative method:

  1. Launch the Group Policy Editor as shown above or simply press the Windows logo, type Group Policy, and hit “Enter.”
  2. Navigate to this path: User Configuration > Administrative templates > Windows components > File Explorer.
  3. Locate and double-click the “Turn off the display of thumbnails and only display icons” option.
  4. Select “Disabled” or “Not Configured” and click on Apply > OK to save the changes.

Implementing these changes may help resolve the thumbnail problem.

Solution 7: Uninstall Problematic Programs

If Windows stopped showing thumbnails of photos just after installing a new application, uninstalling it may be the only solution. Third-party applications may change your system settings or run into compatibility issues that may affect thumbnails.

The steps to uninstall a program in Windows 10 are quite straightforward. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Press the Win + R keyboard shortcut, type cplinto the “Run” text box, and hit “Enter”. This command should take you directly to the “Programs and Features” page in the Control Panel.
  2. Locate the suspicious program, right-click on it and select “Uninstall”.
  3. Confirm your choice and follow any on-screen instructions.
  4. Restart your computer to completely remove the app and its files from the system.

Now check if that fixes your problem.

That’s it!

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