How to enable Thumbnail Previews in File Explorer in Windows 11?

Question

Issue: How to enable Thumbnail Previews in File Explorer in Windows 11?

Hello. I tried to sort my photos out but it is quite hard when you cannot see the thumbnails. Is there any way to enable thumbnail previews in Windows 11?

Solved Answer

Microsoft released Windows 11 back in 2021 and it has received both praise and criticism. Initially, the newest version was full of bugs. We previously wrote about Windows 11 issues like clock and date missing, File Explorer lagging, and fingerprint reader not working. However, one of the most controversial changes that Microsoft made was to remove thumbnails for multimedia folder icons. Instead, a little white stripe on the folder icon confirms the folder has content.

This has made a lot of users unhappy, and frustrated. Now sorting files in folders is more difficult since people cannot see what is inside without clicking on the folder. However, another issue has occurred. For some users, thumbnail previews in File Explorer for pictures were also disabled by default when they upgraded the system.

If people wanted to sort through thousands of pictures, this would be an extremely lengthy process, as they would have to open every single image to see it. Fortunately, there is a way to enable thumbnail previews in File Explorer in Windows 11. In this guide, you will find 3 methods that might help you fix the issue, and help see pictures better.

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How to enable Thumbnail Previews in File Explorer in Windows 11? 

Method 1. Turn On Thumbnail Previews

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  • Open File Explorer
  • Click on the See more (3 dots) button, and tap on Options
  • Check (off) or uncheck (on) Always show icons, never thumbnails, and click on OK

Turn On Thumbnail Previews

Method 2. Clear and Reset Thumbnail Cache

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If thumbnail previews are enabled and turned on with the Photos app but you are still not seeing them, then you can try clearing and resetting the thumbnail cache.

  • Open Disk Cleanup
  • Select the Windows C: drive and click on OK
  • Check the Thumbnails box, and tap on OK
  • Tap on Delete Files to confirm

Clear and Reset Thumbnail Cache

  • When finished, restart the computer

Method 3. Enable Preview Pane in File Explorer

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In addition, you could enable the preview pane in File Explorer below to make seeing previews of the images easier.

  • Open File Explorer
  • Click on View on the command bar
  • Tap on Show
  • Check Preview pane

Enable Preview Pane in File Explorer

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About the author
Gabriel E. Hall
Gabriel E. Hall - Passionate computer expert

Gabriel E. Hall is an expert troubleshooter who has been working in the information technology industry for years.

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