How to Display Thumbnail Preview in Windows 11

This post shows students and new users steps to enable or disable thumbnail preview in File Explorer when using Windows 11.

By default, File Explorer in Windows 11 displays files and folders as a list. Even images will be displayed as a list.

However, Windows also supports displaying thumbnail images or icons in File Explorer. When working with lots of images with thumbnail preview enabled, File Explorer makes it easy to see the actual images or photos in thumbnail sizes, and this can provide you with more details instead of a list.

By default, thumbnail preview is enabled, however, you’ll have to select a medium iconlarge icon, or extra-large icon in File Explorer to preview thumbnail images. If the thumbnail preview is disabled, it will also be disabled in File Explorer.

How to enable or disable thumbnail preview in Windows 11

As mentioned above, you can enable or disable previewing of thumbnails in Windows 11. By default, this is enabled, but if it’s disabled for some reason, here’s how to enable it.

Open File Explorer, then select the ellipse (three dots on the toolbar) and select Options.

Then make sure the check box next to “Always show icons, never thumbnail” is not checked.

Now, in File Explorer, with list view, you’ll see your images as shown below.

To preview the thumbnail in File Explorer, click on View in the toolbar menu and select Large icons, Medium icons, or Small icons.

Now thumbnails are shown in preview mode.

To disable thumbnail preview, go to File Explorer options and click on the View tab, then check to box to “Always show icons, never thumbnail“.

That’s it!


This post showed you how to enable or disable thumbnail preview in Windows 11. If you find out any error above, please use the comment form below.