Issue is with Windows Explorer/File Explorer (WE) Displaying Thumbnail

  1. Posts : 10
    Windows 7 Professional 64

    Issue is with Windows Explorer/File Explorer (WE) Displaying Thumbnail

    Issue is with Windows Explorer/File Explorer (WE) Displaying Thumbnails

    Note that this issue is not the common issue fixed with making sure “Always show icons, never thumbnails” is not checked.

    This machine is running Windows 7 Pro SP1 64bit (all available updates installed), 32gb memory.

    Prior to several days ago Windows Explorer/File Explorer (WE) worked fine. Now when starting the computer, all desktop icons load fine, then the screen “blinks,” the icons refresh and they still look fine.

    When after starting the computer and running WE the first time, WE starts fine, the navigation panel on the left populates, and graphic files show as Thumbnails. Then the folder that has been opened in WE will “update” with the green bar at top running from left to right very slowly. Note that the view is set to Pictures and Large icons (there is no thumbnail option, but thumbnails still are produced).

    During/after the WE update (green bar), the Thumbnails turn into icons (either a white piece of paper with the right top corner bent over or a blank icon with a graphic of the program associated with opening that type of file), the “preview file” button does not show a preview of the image associated with the file (if you click on the file it opens in the associated program to view), and the navigation panel does not fully populate, rather it only shows Desktop, and two subfolders (Libraries and Homegroup), and no other folders or Computer.

    Any time after this that WE is opened, it onlys show icons when it should show Thumbnails, the navigation panel does not fully populate, and the Control Panel is empty (see discussion below).

    Prior to this happening, I installed an update to VLC media player for Windows. I don’t think however that VLC caused the issue (VLC does cause issues in Win 7, but this doesn’t appear to be one of them). (Note later I described that I uninstalled VLC).

    I also did a registry clean-up with CC Cleaner (this is more likely the issue).

    My initial thought was to check in the Organize tab in the folder to see what was checked under “Folder and search options.” I verified that “Always show icons, never thumbnails” was not checked (and it was not checked). I also checked several other folders and it was not checked in those either. Note that folders are set for pictures and Large Icons.

    I then opened the Control Panel to uninstall VLC to see if that would fix it. Control Panel when opened however was empty, no icons nor Categories. I was finally able to get into the Control Panel by using Group Policy Editor and checking Disabled in “Show only specified Control Panel items.” I then ran uninstall for VLC. Uninstall was successful. I then rebooted. As before, WE opened fine then “updated” as mentioned above. Note also that when opening Control Panel now, it opens empty, even though Disabled is still checked.

    I did a full virus scan with GData. No issues found.

    My next guess was the icon file was corrupted. I ran Disk Cleanup and deleted thumbnails, and rebooted to create a new icon cache file. As before, WE opened fine then “updated.” So deleting the icon file did not fix the issue.

    My next fix attempt was to do a System Restore. I went to my most distant restore point in early Feb 2021, rather than any points closer to today figuring that would be the safest option. System Restore was successful, but when booting the computer that did not fix the WE problem. I then undid the System Restore.

    I have another file explorer type program called PowerDesk. When I run it, the navigation panel displays everything correctly. When selecting display thumbnails however, rather than seeing thumbnails, it displays icons with the graphic of the program that is associated with the file (previously before the WE issue it would show the thumbnail). Preview file does work however in the preview file pane, unlike WE.

    I ran System File Checker (SFC verifyonly) and all files checked out fine.

    I ran a registry “merger” with a registry file from this forum called “Enable_Explorer_Thumbnails_For_All_Users.reg” but that did not fix the issue.

    At this point the “answer” is beyond my skill set, and it makes no sense to me that WE isn’t working correctly. As such I am reaching out for some help and insight to what may be the issue and how to fix it.

    I have done Google searches, as well as searched this and other Win 7 forums, and while there are like discussions, they either have suggestions that match what I have already done, or don’t really address the issue.

    There are several options I have thought about but have not tried:
    > I thought about deleting Explorer.exe and replacing it, but not sure that would help.
    > I thought about converting to a Windows 10 operating system but there are a lot of reasons I would rather not do that at this time (hardware and driver issues mostly). Plus I am concerned that the issue would only carry over to the new “upgrade.”

    Given this computer supports my photography, having WE without thumbnails is not an option.
    So if you have any thoughts, need more information, have questions, and more importantly a fix, I would be forever grateful.
      My Computer

  2. Posts : 10
    Windows 7 Professional 64
    Thread Starter

    Update - Created a new user account as an Administrator and that resolved the issue. I somehow need to modify the existing Administrator Account, so I will start researching my options. Any help appreciated!
      My Computer

  3. Posts : 0
    Windows 7 Ultimate x64

    Your problem is that you used Ccleaner's registry snake oil. Never, EVER use that in option in Ccleaner. Registry optimizers and all that rot can and WILL cause issues. You only mess with the registry if you know how to edit the registry, and when you do you take a whole registry backup or a full 1:1 disk clone. Speaking of disk clones, you better learn how to do that since you indicated you're into photography.

    No, this issue won't carry over to a new Windows install. Whether that be the reinstallation of 7 or the installation of 10. What it sounds like is that you have some file corruption or registry corruption. Specifically with that older Windows profile.

    I'd say delete thumbs files and desktop.ini files, but that probably won't solve the issue.

    You have a couple of choices:

    1) Transfer all files from the old profile to the new Admin profile account.

    2) Try and see if a repair install will work. You can read about this here.

    You might want to try a program that's like Ccleaner, but will probably find more "crap." It's called System Ninja. I'd leave folder config. files unchecked. Ticking that will reset folder view settings and what not. Then again, that might actually help you here though, but I kinda doubt it.

    I use both System Ninja and an older version of Ccleaner. System Ninja cleans up the majority of temp files and what not while Ccleaner picks up some minor stuff after I run System Ninja. Again, do not mess around with the registry. If you want to make sure you uninstall a program in its entirety then try Revouninstaller. Just make sure the registry items it wants to delete are related to the program being uninstalled. If you're not sure, don't delete. Some registry items might be shared among other programs and what not.
      My Computer

  4. Posts : 10
    Windows 7 Professional 64
    Thread Starter

    Thank you for your response and suggestions.

    I do know how to edit the registry. This was part of a HD overall cleanup. I did a careful review of the proposed CC edits to the registry. Missed the change that caused this issue however. I did a backup of the registry before the changes, however reinstalling/merging the backup registry failed to correct the problem.

    "Speaking of disk clones, you better learn how to do that since you indicated you're into photography."

    I use Macrium Reflect and do a full clone backup to an external drive every two weeks, with an interim data backup every week (more frequently if involved in a project with a short timeline). For a variety of reasons the reinstall of the Macrium backup would have been problematic in itself.

    If you'll note, I did create a new User Admin account and the problem was not present. Still hoping to use the initial User Admin account since I have several programs that will require changes to the new User Admin account that are problematic, primarily Photoshop CS6.
      My Computer


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