10 Ways to Fix Missing Thumbnail Image in Windows

By | April 20, 2022

If your computer stops showing thumbnails and keeps you guessing when attaching files to emails, we’ll show you how to fix them.

Thumbnails are very useful, as they give you a small preview of the content of an image or video. This saves you the need to rename or open a file to find out what’s inside and makes for a nice time-saving feature.

Unfortunately, Windows sometimes has issues with thumbnails. They may stop working for individual folders, certain file types, or your system may stop displaying thumbnails for each file on your computer.

In this guide, we’ll show you the right tools and settings to use so you can get Windows to show thumbnails again.

Choose the Right File Explorer Settings

Windows 10 gives you many options for viewing your files and folders. However, not all options support thumbnail previews. In File Explorer, go to the tab View and select one of the following options:

  • Extra large icons
  • Large icons
  • Medium icons
  • Tiles
  • Content

This option displays thumbnail previews properly, so try selecting one of them and see if that fixes the problem. If not, that’s a sign that the problem is elsewhere.

Restore Folders to Default Settings

If you see this problem when opening a certain folder, you can fix it by returning it to its default settings. Here is how you can do it:

  • Open the folder.
  • Right click anywhere on an empty space and select Properties.
  • Open tab Customize.
  • Click button Restore Defaults.

Restore File Explorer Default Settings

You may also run into cases where Windows doesn’t show file and folder thumbnails no matter what folder you open. A rogue File Explorer setting can cause this problem, so returning File Explorer settings to default should fix it.

Here is how you can do it:

  • Launch File Explorer.
  • Open menu File and select Change folder and search options.
  • In tab General, click Restore Defaults.
  • Select tab View and click the button again Restore Defaults.

After Windows restores the default settings, check if you can now see thumbnails for your files and folders. If this doesn’t work, move on to the next solution.

Check File Explorer Options

Windows can display icons or thumbnails so if you see icons, you should look at File Explorer settings.

Here’s how you can make File Explorer show thumbnails again:

  • Launch Control Panel.
  • open View by and select Small icons or Large icons.
  • Click File Explorer Options.
  • Open tab View.
  • From Files and Folders, uncheck the option Always show icons, never thumbnails.
  • Click Apply > OK to save your new settings.

Change Default App

Thumbnails may be missing for certain file types because Windows doesn’t know which application was used to open that file. To fix this, you need to set a new default app.

Right click the file and open it Open With > Choose another app. You can select an application from the default list or click More apps to find a new one. As a final step, check the option Always use this app.

Now Windows will use the selected application to open that file type and it will show thumbnails.

Clear Thumbnail Cache

Sometimes, Windows stops displaying thumbnails due to a corrupted or corrupted cache. Luckily, you can use Windows’ built-in tools to quickly fix this problem.

Follow these steps to clear the thumbnail cache using the Disk Cleanup tool:

  • search disk cleanup in the menu search bar Start and choose the most suitable.
  • From Files to delete, uncheck all boxes except for Thumbnails.
  • Click OK to start the process.

Disk Cleanup will delete the thumbnail cache from your computer. After the process is complete, Windows will rebuild the cache and display thumbnails

Notes: If your system has multiple drives, you will need to select the drive where you installed Windows 10.

Look for Malware

If you experience application crashes or generally poor performance other than missing thumbnails, your computer may have malware.

While Windows constantly checks your PC for malware with its tools, you can always perform a manual scan and we’ll show you how to do it.

  • open Settings by pressing the button Windows + I.
  • open Security > Update & Security > Windows Security.
  • Click button Open Windows Security.
  • choose Viruses & threat protection.
  • Click Quick Scan.

Windows Security will now look for malware on your computer and generate a report for you.

Check Performance Options

Another solution for Windows 10 not showing thumbnails is to reconfigure the visual effects settings. Although it sounds complicated, you only need to change a few settings. Here is how you can do it:

  • open Settings.
  • open System > About.
  • Scroll down and select Advanced system settings.
  • In tab Advanced, click button Settings.
  • Check options Save taskbar thumbnail previews and Show thumbnails instead of icons.
  • Click Apply > OK to save your new system settings.

Check Group Policy

When you troubleshoot your Windows 10 computer, you will often find yourself editing Group Policy Editor. This is because it contains some of the main services and processes that keep Windows running.

Follow these steps to check thumbnail settings in Group Policy Editor:

  • Press the button Windows + R to open a dialog Run.
  • Type gpedit.msc and click OK.
  • Navigate to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar.
  • From the right pane, go to Turn off taskbar thumbnails.
  • choose Disabled.
  • Click Apply > OK.

This isn’t the only setting in Group Policy you need to check. open User Configuration > Administrative Templates Windows components > File Explorer. There, open Turn off the display of thumbnails and only display icons. Again, choose Disabled and click Apply.

After you reconfigure these settings, restart your computer and check if you can see the thumbnails.

Edit Windows Registry

Like the Group Policy tool, the Windows Registry contains some of the most important system settings. Thus, you can use it to fix the missing thumbnail issue.

  • In the menu search bar Start, search regedit and select Run as administrator.
  • open HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SOFTWARE > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > Policies.
  • open Explorer.
  • Right click on an empty space in the right pane and click New > DWORD (32-bit Value).
  • Name Disable Thumbnails.
  • Set data Value to 1.
  • Set Base to Hexadecimal.
  • Click Okay.
  • Close Registry Editor and restart your computer.

Show Thumbnails Back to Your Windows

Windows showing thumbnails instead of icons isn’t the most spectacular part of your system, but it sure does come in handy. By following one or more of these solutions, you can restore your files and folder thumbnails.