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Windows 11 folders not showing preview: 11 Fixes

Windows has been a household name ever since computers became common. Now with Windows 11, Microsoft has made the operating system all the better, but it isn’t immune to random bugs and glitches. 

In this article, we’re taking a look at how to fix thumbnail previews in Windows 10 or 11. 

Also read: How to enable direct storage in Windows 11?


Fixing folder thumbnails

Here are some solutions you can try out to potentially fix the problem.

Check folder view settings

Check the folder view settings to ensure that thumbnails are enabled in the first place.

Step 1: Press the Windows key and search for File explorer options. Click the corresponding search result. 

Windows 11 folders not showing preview: 11 Fixes

Step 2: Head over to the View tab and under Files and Folders, uncheck the Always show icons, never thumbnails option. 

Windows 11 folders not showing preview: 11 Fixes

Click Apply followed by OK. File Explorer should start working as intended now.


Restore File Explorer defaults

Restoring the File Explorer to its default settings can also help resolve this issue. 

Step 1: Press the Windows key and search for File explorer options. Click the corresponding search result. 

Windows 11 folders not showing preview: 11 Fixes

Step 2: Under the View tab, click the Restore Defaults button, followed by Apply and then OK. 

Windows 11 folders not showing preview: 11 Fixes

Restart File Explorer, and you should start seeing thumbnails as usual. 


Restart File Explorer

Restarting the file explorer can often fix any issues with information now showing up correctly. All you have to do is open the task manager, find the explorer.exe process and restart it using the button in the bottom right. 

Windows 11 folders not showing preview: 11 Fixes

Once File Explorer has restarted, try re-accessing the folder, and you should see the thumbnails just fine. 


Delete the thumbnail cache

If you still can’t see any thumbnails, try clearing the thumbnail cache to see if that solves your issue. 

Step 1: Head over to Windows Settings by pressing Windows + I. Click Storage.

Windows 11 folders not showing preview: 11 Fixes

Step 2: Select Temporary files.

Windows 11 folders not showing preview: 11 Fixes

Step 3: Check the box next to Thumbnails and click the Remove file button. 

Windows 11 folders not showing preview: 11 Fixes

Now try again, and file explorer should display all thumbnails just fine. 

Also read: How to turn delivery optimisation off in Windows 11?


Rever to the native apps

If the issue is limited to a few specific file extensions, try reverting to the Windows default apps for photos and videos to see if that solves your problem.

Step 1: Navigate to a folder where you can’t see the previews,  right-click the file and select Open with. Select Choose another app in the menu that appears. 

Windows 11 folders not showing preview: 11 Fixes

Step 2: Select Photos for images and Movies & TV for videos. Be sure to check the box asking to use the same app for the particular format. 

Windows 11 folders not showing preview: 11 Fixes

Now try refreshing File Explorer to see if you’ve got the thumbnails or not. 


Install Codecs

File in a non-Windows format might not show thumbnails until their respective codecs aren’t installed. For example, RAW images taken on a DSLR will now show thumbnails until you install the required camera codec. The same goes for iPhone’s HEIC image format. 

Try installing the required codec from the Microsoft Store and see if that fixes your problem. 


Update your GPU drivers

Outdated GPU drivers can also cause this issue in particular. While you should update all your drivers, take special care of your display drivers if you run into an error like this. 

Step 1: Right-click Start and select Device Manager from the menu.

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Step 2: Under Display Adaptors, find your graphics card’s name, right-click on it and click on Update Drivers.

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Step 3: Click on Search automatically for drivers. Windows will automatically look for and download the latest drivers for your particular GPU.

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While this should help resolve the error, in case it doesn’t, click Uninstall device and restart your PC to force Windows to install the required drivers. You can then update them later. Alternatively, you can also remove your GPU and reinsert it if you can. 


Update your PC 

Another thing you should try is to update your PC. Updating your PC will, in most cases, update your drivers along with any other problematic software and fix any issues in the process.

Check out this detailed guide to know how to update your PC here

Run an SFC scan

Corrupt files are also a reason why your PC might be behaving weirdly. Here’s how you can get rid of them and potentially resolve your issue. 

Step 1: Press Windows Key + S to bring up the Cortana/Search box and search for Powershell. Open Windows Powershell from the search results.

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Step 2: Type sfc /scannow to scan your system for issues. 

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Step 3: If the SFC scan finds any problem, use the following command to resolve them. 

DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
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Restart your PC, and File Explorer should start showing thumbnails. 


Run a virus scan

If the issue still hasn’t been resolved, there’s a good chance a File Explorer hijacking malware infects your PC. Try running a full malware scan on your PC to rule out any such issue.


Repair your system

If nothing else works, the best way to get rid of the error is by simply reinstalling or repairing your OS. 

The Windows Media Creation tool is a great way to install Windows and repair the OS. Using this, you can perform a clean installation or repair your OS without affecting your data.

You can download the Media Creation Tool here

Also read: How to fix Windows 10 update error 0x800f0922?

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