When I open my downloads folder, no files appear, just a message saying "This folder is empty". I see the address bar progress slowly creeping along, and after about thirty seconds the files and folders appear. This problem only occurs in the downloads folder. If I search for a file in the downloads folder, it comes up, and if I right click on it and select "Open File Location", everything shows up instantly. I am using Windows 8, but I think I had a similar problem once in Windows 7. Sadly I can't remember how I fixed it.

  • 5
    Try right-clicking the folder / Properties / Customize tab / Optimize folder for General Items and see if that helps. – Karan Nov 6 '12 at 17:05

By default, the Downloads folder tries to index files as Pictures, which is taking a long time.

From here:

  1. Right click your Downloads folder
  2. Go to Customize
  3. Select Document or General items from the drop down
  4. If Document was already selected, choose Also apply this template to all subfolders
  • No problem. Now I can fix the problem on my machine =D – corwin01 Nov 6 '12 at 17:24
  • 2
    You need to do this on the Downloads folder in c:\users\yourusername, not on the Downloads shortcut under Favorites. – Steve Jan 14 '14 at 12:47
  • @Steve Just right click in your downloads folder -> customize. – JochemQuery Mar 25 '14 at 9:57
  • For me right click also make the system hang. Any help? – vishnu viswanath Nov 10 '14 at 4:13
  • 2
    This is still relevant in windows 10. As @Steve says though, you need to apply the change to the actual Downloads folder and not the library shortcut. You can apply it to the library shortcut and it will appear to have worked, but the folder will still load slowly. – numbers1311407 Oct 28 '15 at 0:51

This occurs as windows tries to optimize your download folder as a video folder or music folder or something other.It takes time when windows tries to draw icons for all the items in folder.So the fix will be to specifically tell windows to optimize the folder for general items.for this :

  1. right click and open Properties
  2. select Customize tab
  3. select Optimize for General Items from the drop-down menu
  • 3
    It seems to me like "General Items" is quite slow as well. I did set it to "General Items" to begin with, which seemed to work, but for some reason, after some time, it began to slow down again. Now I've set it to "Documents", which seems to have done the trick once again :) – Siewers Dec 21 '12 at 9:02

Remove "size" from the columns in windows explorer. I find it takes the computer a long time to figure out file sizes.

Also change the view of the search results to "details". I think it defaults to "content" which also has lots of file details like size.


The same happened to me.

  • Right click on the background of the folder

  • Properties

  • Customize tab

  • Optimize for Documents

  • DONE!


Two things to try if optimizing for general items does not do the trick:

  1. Delete the desktop.ini hidden file in the Downloads folder
  2. Kill Explorer task in Task Manager, then open a new Explorer window.

I think I figured out how to make this fix permanent.

Create a new folder on your desktop.

Drag all of the files in your “Download” folder to the new folder on your desktop.

Then delete the “Downloads” folder.

Then rename the folder on your desktop “Downloads”.

Then drag and drop the new “Downloads” folder to where the old “downloads” folder was.

Thats it. Your Done. The new “downloads” folder shouldn’t have any presets as to whats in the folder, or whats being downloaded into the folder.

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