Photos Not Showing Thumbnail in Windows 11? Lets fix it

A Thumbnail preview is a miniature representation of a file. So, you don’t need to open every file to check if you are selecting the right one.


Did Windows 11 folder thumbnails not showing or have a question on mind, how to enable Thumbnail Previews in File Explorer in Windows 11? After Upgrade Windows 11 number of users report, the folder is not previewing the thumbnail of images inside, have to open each folder to see what’s inside. Some others report, picture thumbnails not showing Windows 11. Here in this article, we look at the reason why picture thumbnails not showing on Windows 11 and how to fix this problem.

Why is the thumbnail preview not showing?

A thumbnail is a small image representation of a larger image. Sometimes Windows stop showing thumbnail previews for different reasons, it could be due to some corrupt system files. The thumbnail cache may have become full with temporary files which act like junk and hide the preview or the option is disabled for thumbnail preview. Apart from all these reasons, it may be some random bug hide the thumbnail preview for pictures or folders and that requires a fix.

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Quick fix: Restart Windows 11 PC refreshes the OS and clear temporary glitches that may present on your device and prevent display thumbnail preview. After your computer restarts visit the folder in which your images are present. Check if the thumbnail view of the image file is showing or not.

Install windows update

Microsoft regularly releases Windows updates with security improvements and various bug fixes. And may the latest Windows update be bundled with a fix for this problem of thumbnail preview not showing on Windows 11. Let’s check if there is any pending software update that you missed out on.

To check for an update,

  1. Press Windows + I to get to the settings page.
  2. Then on the left-hand panel click on Windows Update.
  3. Next, click on Check for Updates.
  4. If Pending windows updates are there, click on the option Download Now to get the update installed on your computer.
  5. Once done, you need to restart your PC to apply them

windows 11 checking for updates

If it was a bug in the system not making the thumbnail to be visible, then it should be fixed now. Check your image files.

Enable Thumbnail Previews in File Explorer

There is an option to enable thumbnail view of images on your computer. Let’s check if this option is enabled or not.

  • Press Windows key + S, type file explorer options and select the first result,
  • When the file explorer options dialog box opens, move to the view tab,
  • Here Look at the option Always Show Icon, Never Thumbnails.
  • If it has been check-marked, then click and uncheck the option so that the thumbnail is visible.
  • Click apply and check the image thumbnail will be visible for sure.

Enable thumbnail preview

Change the default App type

If you notice thumbnail preview for a few file types only, in such case you need to change the default app type following the steps below.

  • First navigate to the file which the thumbnail is not showing, Right-click on it and select open from the context menu,
  • Now, click on Choose another app option and choose a different application and tick the box next to Always use this app to open files.
  • Tap OK and the changes will be saved.

Choose another app option

Scan for Corrupt System Files

There are chances due to some reason system file is corrupted and as a result, thumbnail preview not showing for images on Windows 11. In such cases, run DISM and SFC commands that repair the system image and look for and replace corrupted system files with the correct ones.

  • Press Windows key + S type cmd, now right-click on the command prompt and select run as administrator,
  • First, run the DISM command DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
  • Let the scanning process complete 100%, it may take a few minutes to hours,
  • Next, run the command sfc /scannow this will scan your computer for corrupted system files if found the utility automatically replaces them with the correct one.
  • Wait for the process to finish. The system will search for possible corrupt files and fix them automatically,

Running DISM and SFC commands will fix the corrupt files by replacing them with proper files from Microsoft’s web servers

Reset Folder on Windows 11

If there are any unusual changes to file explorer or you have installed any third-party app related to file explorer that may have affected the files on your computer. And that led to the thumbnails not showing the photos. Let’s reset the folders in File Explorer and make the settings default.

  • Press Windows key + S, type file explorer options then select the first result,
  • Once the File Explorer Options dialog box opens, click on the View tab
  • Next, click on the Reset folders option then Restore defaults
  • Now reboot your PC and check if the Windows 11 folder thumbnails not showing issue is resolved.

Restore folders defaults

Clear the Thumbnail Cache

Still need help, let’s clear the thumbnail cache to remove the temporary data accumulated over time. To do so,

  • Open command prompt as administrator,
  • First, run the command taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
  • Next run the command del /f /s /q /a %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer\thumbcache_*.db
  • The above command will delete the existing thumbnail and icon cache.
  • Again, run command explorer.exe to restart the File Explorer

Reboot your PC and check Now, you should be able to see the thumbnail of the photos.

Retrieve Thumbnail Images Freshly

Also, you can use the Disk Cleanup tool to remove the existing thumbnails and regenerate the thumbnail images freshly. It’s quite easy to do.

  • Press Windows key + S, type disk cleanup and press enter key,
  • Select drive C: and then click ok to start the disk cleanup process,
  • Under the Files to Delete section, checkmark the box beside Thumbnails.
  • Click OK to proceed.

So, that’s it. Use any of the above troubleshooting methods and you will be able to view the thumbnail image preview of all photos on your computer.

Also read:

Steve Ballmer
Steve Ballmer
With over 7 years of experience in the IT industry, I have experience in IT support, helpdesk, sysadmin, network admin, and cloud computing. Certified in Microsoft Technologies (MCTS and MCSA) and also Cisco Certified Professional in Routing and Switching.

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