I used to be able to select a file in the standard File Explorer to see a preview in the Preview Pane, for many common file types. However, I've recently noticed that that doesn't work anymore for some file types.

  • JPG and PNG: some folders show no thumbnails for any images, other folders show thumbnails for all images, still other folders show thumbnails for some images but not others (of the same file type). No images will show a preview in the Preview pane.
  • TXT files no longer provide a preview in the Preview pane.
  • BAT, RTF, PDF, and MP3 always provide a preview in the Preview pane.

Things I've tried:

  1. Ensure that the Preview pane is on. It is - it just says "No preview available" for some file types.
  2. Ensure that Folder options > View > Always show icons, never thumbnails is unchecked.
  3. Ensure that Folder options > View > Display file icon on thumbnails is unchecked.
  4. Run gpedit.msc and change Turn off caching of thumbnail pictures.
  5. Run gpedit.msc and change Turn off the display of thumbnails and display only icons.
  6. Run gpedit.msc and change Turn off taskbar thumbnails.
  7. Change file associations.
  8. Ensure that Advanced system settings > Performance settings > Show thumbnails instead of icons is checked.
  9. Ensure that Advanced system settings > Performance settings > Save taskbar thumbnail previews is checked.

Things I've seen suggested but not tried:

  1. Uninstall Java 8. I've never had Java on this Windows install.
  2. Reinstall Windows. I would only go for the nuclear option for a critical problem, like boot failures.
  3. Delete all .db files in C:\Users\user\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer. I know that cache files are generally safe to remove, but I am loath to delete the sort of file that requires ending Windows Explorer first. I also don't see how that would fix the Preview issue.

And yes, I realize that I can simply press Enter to open a selected file, but the thumbnail/preview is a basic feature that used to work and I like it when things work.

How do I get thumbnails and previews to display again?

  • .BAT uses the same text preview filter that .TXT uses. For .txt, try fixing the file associations. Try the association fix registry file here: winhelponline.com/blog/file-asso-fixes-for-windows-8 – w32sh Mar 16 '16 at 5:05
  • @w32sh - Do you know what exactly those registry fixes do? I'd like to understand what they're doing, so that I can apply those fixes in a more "normal" way (and possibly for file types that don't have a registry fix available). – TigerhawkT3 Mar 16 '16 at 7:44
  • It simply restores the default entries (Windows defaults) for that particular file type (.txt). You can open the REG file using Notepad to see the contents. This can be implemented manually if you wish, using Regedit.exe. But importing the REG is easier. – w32sh Mar 16 '16 at 8:06

In order to get your thumbnails working again, you have to uninstall Java 8. It is funny, but true. For me, only the uninstalling of Java 8 helped; images were shown instantly afterwards. I tried a lot of different things before, given things by several forum discussions. After fixing the issue, you can install Java again, of course.


In my case I found thumbs are not shown until viewed at least once by default windows image viewer, looks like that viewer generates the thumbs. Unfortunately I have no workaround how to generate the thumbs without opening imges in the default viewer.

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