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Windows 7

How to Toggle Showing Thumbnails or Icons in Explorer Folders

SUMMARY: Configure Windows 7 to display icons in Explorer folders for speed, or thumbnails to show snapshots of images without opening or previewing them.

When viewing Explorer folders in Windows 7 in one of the following views - Extra Large Icons, Large Icons, Medium Icons, Tiles, or Content, instead of seeing icons for many types of picture files such as .GIF, .PNG, and .JPG, Windows shows thumbnails. This way you don't have to preview images or open them in an image editor.

Showing thumbnails requires extra processing time, so if displaying these files slows your machine, especially inside folders with large images or a large number of files, this option can be disabled. Conversely, if this feature is disabled and you wish to turn it back on, do the following:

Displaying image thumbnails in Explorer folders

Thumbnail displaying disabled in Explorer folders

1. Click the "Start" button, type folder options and click the "Folder Options" link that appears.

Accessing Folder Options from the Windows 7 Start button

2. When the "Folder Options" multi-tabbed dialog box appears, click the "View" tab.

3. Check "Always show icons, never thumbnails" to disable thumbnail generation. Uncheck this box to enable thumbnail generation.

4. Click "OK" to close the dialog box.

This tip was written for Windows 7 RC. Screenshots and information are subject to change between this and the official release of Windows 7.

Return to the Windows 7 page.

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The MalekTips website was created in 1998 by Andrew Malek of Envision Programming. The page's goal is to freely disperse computer-related tips, hints, and informative articles. Tips are organized to be easy to find, and are presented clearly, in easy-to-understand language. MalekTips also provides information and links to public-domain, open source, freeware, shareware, and commercial software available for download.