I've discovered that the Windows Vista Explorer shell does not display proper thumbnails for .MOV files.

As an example, a .JPG file will be shown in the Explorer shell thumbnail mode as a scaled down version of the image. However for .MOV files, it displays the same icon as in the non-thumbnail view, which is just some generic thing that shows you it's going to be played with QuickTime or whatever.

What XP used to do was show you a frame from the actual movie as the thumbnail.

I've looked on the Internet and found various proposed solutions, but none which actually work.

Is there a simple step-by-step process for getting Vista to properly display thumbnails for .MOV files?

4 Answers 4


When you install K-Lite Codec Pack, towards the end of the installer, it asks you if you want to have thumbnails generated for all the file types it supports. You get thumbnails for quite a lot of formats, including, I believe, for mov files.

  • Seems the most complete answer so far. Sep 3, 2009 at 7:59
  • Just installed it with thumbnails option turned on. Now what? Non-WMV movies still have no thumbnails.
    – JoJo
    Feb 24, 2013 at 23:27
  • This worked as expected on my 32 bit Vista laptop. I did not change any default settings in the installer. Oct 5, 2014 at 15:55

Install the Quicktime Alternative codecs.

  • I've clarified my question. This doesn't show a frame from the movie, so you still can't see at a glance what the .MOV file actually contains. Sep 2, 2009 at 21:46
  • It does, try to register the .mov file association with Windows Media Player? I am seeing thumbnails of the first frame of .mov files on my XP machine now.
    – caliban
    Sep 2, 2009 at 21:55
  • This seems to work now that I've rebooted my machine. Sep 3, 2009 at 7:30
  • Although actually I also followed these steps which also only seemed to work after I rebooted: hanselman.com/blog/… Sep 3, 2009 at 7:32
  • Actually, now that I think of it, I didn't reboot... So I really don't know what's going on. Sep 3, 2009 at 7:57

I have the same problem and I have a simple trick that should work.

Windows Vista won't show MOV, QuickTime or Apple type video thumbnails like Windows Media Player. What I do is I go to a site where I can actually download one of these aforementioned video files (i.e., MOV, QuickTime) and act like I am going to download the file.


  1. Right-click on the link or file
  2. Select Save Target As when the Save As dialog box opens
  3. Navigate or browse over to the very exact folder where you have those MOV or QuickTime files that won't preview.

If the file that you are pretending to save is similar to those, you will readily see your files. If you don't do anything, after about 10-15 seconds the thumbnails will begin to auto-populate in the dialog box.

If you do not see your thumbnails in the dialog box then that means the file you are saving is somewhat different from the files that you have.

What you have to do then is just look at the bottom of the dialog box where it says "File Name:" and "Save As Type:" and click the "Save As Type" and select All Files and BOOM, your thumbnails will suddenly appear. Of course you still have to wait the 10-15 seconds for the thumbnail previews to start auto-populating.

Once they start to auto-populate, it generally takes 15-30 seconds for each thumbnail to generate a preview.

You can speed up this process by selecting View from the menu and changing it to the smallest viewable icon, probably Medium.

They will then load faster. If it stalls, right-click in an empty part of the screen and refresh the screen and they pop up faster.

Do not have the folder with those thumbnails open at the same time. Sometimes it makes it take longer. If you have it open have it minimized and after all thumbnail previews load, then open it up and click refresh and there you have it.

There is only one little problem with this trick!

I don't know this for a fact but I will almost bet you all of Memo Porton's and Esteban Trabajos career-monetary take from MS and Apple RESPECTIVELY that when you do it this way those thumbnail previews of yours (ours, everyone's) are somehow sent, directed, shared, transported, communicated, forwarded or whatever to their respective companies so that they can get a sneak peek on what people in this world are recording.

Remember all that jive about how they retain the right to do whatnot as long as there is no personal identifiable information or some jargon in all of their agreements that you have to accept?

Well, there it is.

So, even though you think your previews will get lost somehow in the millions or billions of thumbnails or that they will magically be erased, they will not be. Nothing is ever dispensed with, ever!


I tried scoopdreams solution, then when it didn't seem to work I also tried Scott Hanselman's solution

Both appeared not to work last night but now that I look at my machine now, I am seeing correct thumbnails for .MOV files. I don't even think I've rebooted my machine since then.

It's possible that you also need to install CCCP Project codecs which he also refers to in the linked blog post. I did this also but unfortunately I cannot remember if it was working immediately after doing this or not.

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