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How to preload thumbnails for files and folders on Windows 10

File Explorer is the default file manager on Windows 10. It offers multiple ways for sorting and grouping files and folders. It also offers multiple layouts for viewing items in a folder such as details, lists, and thumbnails of all sizes.

For images, audio files, and video files, as well as folders that may contain a combination of one of these three file types, using the thumbnail layout makes sense. It allows users to see, at a glance, what’s in a folder or which file is which.

Thumbnails in File Explorer

File Explorer can generate thumbnails for lots of different file types but it only generates them when a folder is accessed. Often, you have to scroll through the entire folder, past all files and sub-folders, for a thumbnail to be generated for each one. 

Because the thumbnails are generated only when a user opens a folder, when you access a folder with lots of files (For example a photo library), it is slow to open and the thumbnails load as you scroll instead of already being loaded.

Preload thumbnails for files and folders

To make browsing easier, and faster, you can preload thumbnails for files and folders on Windows 10. To do this, you need to install a free, open-source app called WinThumbsPreloader. Follow these steps to set up the app and use it to preload thumbnails.

  1. Download WinThumbsPreloader from Github.
  2. Install the app.
  3. Open File Explorer.
  4. Navigate to the folder with files and folders you want to preload thumbnails for.
  5. Right-click the folder and select WinThumbsPreloader>Preload Thumbnails.

  1. Allow the app to preload thumbnails for the folder. It shouldn’t take long but more files and folders mean more time will be needed to generate thumbnails.
  2. Open the folder and all items will show a thumbnail.

Recursively load thumbnails

If you have a folder that you often add more files to, and you tend to add a lot of them in one go, you should use WinThumbsPreloader to recursively load thumbnails. Right-click the folder and select the Preload Thumbnails Recursively option from the app’s sub-menu.


If you’ve often had to wait for File Explorer to load files in a folder before you can scroll through and open one of them, i.e., you’ve found File Explorer to be slow, this is a great way to fix it. File Explorer tends to be slow because it’s generating thumbnails. With this app, you can load the thumbnails before the folder is opened, effectively speeding the process up.

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