How to Overcome Thumbnail Images Not Appearing in Windows 10

Thumbnail images or also called previews can help users find out the contents of a file without having to open it. However, sometimes thumbnails don’t appear at all for some reason.

In general, thumbnails that aren’t showing up are caused by Windows settings blocking them or a problem with the system caching on the computer.

Here are three ways to deal with file thumbnails not showing up in Windows 10. You don’t have to follow them all. If one method proves to be helpful for you, then the others may be ignored.

Example of thumbnails not showing in Windows 10

#1 Check if File Explorer settings are blocking thumbnails

Sometimes, File Explorer accidentally prevents thumbnails from appearing and replaces them with regular icons. To check these settings, follow these steps.

1. Go to FileExplorer.

Windows Explorer icon How to Overcome Thumbnail Image Not Appearing in Windows 10 2 Windows Explorer icon

2. Click Filesthen click Change folder and search options.

Change folder and search options 1 How to Overcome Thumbnail Images Not Appearing in Windows 10 3 Change folder and search options 1

3. Go to tabs Viewbe sure Always show icons, never thumbnails unchecked. Then OK.

Always show icons never thumbnails How to Overcome Thumbnail Images Not Appearing in Windows 10 4 Always show icons never thumbnails

4. See again whether the thumbnail has appeared or not.

Windows Explorer Thumbnails How to Overcome Thumbnail Images Not Appearing in Windows 10 5 Windows Explorer Thumbnails

If the settings just now still don’t show thumbnails, then there are settings at a deeper level that you need to check. See next method.

#2 Activate the thumbnail feature via System Properties

Through System Properties, we can modify how Windows 10 looks. Not infrequently, problems surrounding file thumbnails originate from inappropriate System Properties settings. Here’s how to fix it.

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1. Go to FileExplorer.

Windows Explorer icon How to Overcome Thumbnail Image Not Appearing in Windows 10 2 Windows Explorer icon

2. Right click on This PCthen click Properties.

This PC Properties How to Overcome Thumbnail Image Not Appearing in Windows 10 7 This PC Properties

3. On the left, click Advanced system settings.

Advanced system settings How to Overcome Thumbnail Images Not Appearing in Windows 10 8 Advanced system settings

4. Then click Settings.

Settings How to Overcome Thumbnail Images Not Appearing in Windows 10 9 Settings

5. Tick Show thumbnails instead of icons. Then OK.

Show thumbnails instead of icons How to Fix Thumbnails Not Appearing in Windows 10

Check your file again whether it shows thumbnails or not. Generally after going through this method the thumbnails will appear normally.

Even if it doesn’t appear, it usually only occurs in a few files and the way to fix it is to clean it cache thumbnails.

#3 Clear thumbnail cache on Windows 10

Cache can be simplified like old data used to speed up performance when accessing files again. Sometimes thumbnails don’t appear because Windows is still referring to old data.

Therefore the thumbnail cache needs to be cleaned. Here’s how.

1. Go to FileExplorer.

Windows Explorer icon How to Overcome Thumbnail Image Not Appearing in Windows 10 2 Windows Explorer icon

2. Right click on Local Disk (C:) then click Properties.

Local Disk C Properties How to Overcome Thumbnail Image Not Appearing in Windows 10 12 Local Disk C Properties

3. Click on Disk Cleanup then wait for the process. Disk Cleanup can also be found by searching for it in the Start menu.

Disk Cleanup How to Overcome Thumbnail Image Not Appearing in Windows 10 13 Disk Cleanup

4. Uncheck all options except on Thumbnails. Then click OK.

Thumbnails How to Overcome Thumbnail Images Not Appearing in Windows 10 14 Thumbnails

5. Confirm Delete Files. Don’t worry, this process only clears the cache, not the actual files.

Delete Files How to Overcome Thumbnail Images Not Appearing in Windows 10 15 Delete Files

After this Windows 10 will show the latest relevant thumbnails and not show the icons anymore.


Apart from cleaning cachedo computer defrag can also prevent thumbnail problems like this, but it is also able to speed up computer performance when used.