Disable thumbnails on Windows 10Source: Windows Central

On Windows 10, File Explorer has the ability to display various sizes of thumbnail images for files, folders, documents, pictures, and videos to give you a quick preview of the content without having to open them.

Although it's a useful feature that adds a visual queue to find files faster without even looking at their names, it can take some system resources to render and cache all the previews, especially in locations with many images.

If your device is taking a long time to load the previews, you're troubleshooting a problem, or you're not interested in using this feature, Windows 10 includes at least three ways to disable thumbnails to show file icons instead of using File Explorer, Settings, and Group Policy.

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In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to disable (and enable) thumbnails for files in File Explorer.

How to enable or disable thumbnails using File Explorer

On Windows 10, the easiest way to disable or enable thumbnail previews for files is to use the File Explorer settings.

Disable file thumbnails

To disable thumbnails, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Click the View tab.
  3. Click the Options button.

    File Explorer Options buttonSource: Windows Central

  4. Click the View tab.
  5. Under the "Advanced settings" section, check the Always show icons, never thumbnails option.

    Always show icons, never thumbnailsSource: Windows Central

  6. Click the Apply button.
  7. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, files will appear as icons without previews.

Enable file thumbnails

If you ended up in this guide because thumbnails are not showing in File Explorer, it's possible that for some reason or system update, the feature got disabled by mistake.

To enable thumbnails for files on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Click the View tab.
  3. Click the Options button.

    File Explorer Options buttonSource: Windows Central

  4. Click the View tab.
  5. Under the "Advanced settings" section, clear the Always show icons, never thumbnails option.

    Enable thumbnails on Windows 10Source: Windows Central

  6. Click the Apply button.
  7. Click the OK button.

After you complete the steps, previews will now appear for files in File Explorer. If, after adjusting the settings, you don't see the thumbnails, then restart File Explorer and repeat the instructions one more time.

How to enable or disable thumbnails using Settings

You can also use the Settings app to access the visual effects settings that allow you to enable or disable thumbnail previews, among other appearance and performance effects.

Disable file thumbnails

To disable the thumbnails for files using the visual effects settings, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click on About.
  4. Under the "Related settings" section, click the Advanced system settings option in the right pane.

    Advanced System Settings on Windows 10Source: Windows Central

  5. Click the Advanced tab.
  6. Under the "Performance" section, click the Settings button.

    System Properties performanceSource: Windows Central

  7. Click the Visual Effects tab.
  8. Clear the Show thumbnails instead of icons option.

    Disable Show Thumbnails Instead Icons optionSource: Windows Central

  9. Click the Apply button.
  10. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, File Explorer will no longer show thumbnails for files.

Enable file thumbnails

To use the visual effects settings to re-enable thumbnails, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click on About.
  4. Under the "Related settings" section, click the Advanced system settings option in the right pane.

    Advanced System Settings on Windows 10Source: Windows Central

  5. Click the Advanced tab.
  6. Under the "Performance" section, click the Settings button.

    System Properties performanceSource: Windows Central

  7. Click the Visual Effects tab.
  8. Check the Show thumbnails instead of icons option.

    Enable Show Thumbnails Instead IconsSource: Windows Central

  9. Click the Apply button.
  10. Click the OK button.

After you complete the steps, files should appear with the respective previews in File Explorer.

How to enable or disable thumbnails using Group Policy

Alternatively, you can even manage the display of thumbnail previews using Group Policy.

Disable file thumbnails

To disable thumbnails with Group Policy, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for gpedit.msc and click OK to open the Local Group Policy Editor.
  3. Browse the following path:

    User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer

  4. On the right side, double-click the Turn off the display of thumbnails and only display icons policy.

    File Explorer Group Policy thumbnail settingSource: Windows Central

    Quick note: Using Group Policy, you can also choose to only disable thumbnails for network folders with the "Turn off the display of thumbnails and only display icons on network folders" policy.

  5. Select the Enabled option.

    Turn off the display of thumbnails and only display icons (Enabled)Source: Windows Central

  6. Click Apply
  7. Click OK.

Once you complete the steps, users will no longer see thumbnails for files while the policy remains enabled.

Enable file thumbnails

To show previews for files with Group Policy, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for gpedit.msc and click OK to open the Local Group Policy Editor.
  3. Browse the following path:

    User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer

  4. On the right side, double-click the Turn off the display of thumbnails and only display icons policy.

    File Explorer Group Policy thumbnail settingSource: Windows Central

  5. Select the Not configured option.

    Turn off the display of thumbnails and only display icons (Disabled)Source: Windows Central

  6. Click Apply
  7. Click OK.

After you complete the steps, thumbnails previews will be available for files in File Explorer. If you can't see the previews, you may need to restart the device to apply the changes.

Whatever method you choose to disable thumbnails, remember to use the same method to re-enable the feature. If you still have problems displaying previews, you may be able to resolve the issue with these steps.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:

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