How to Show Icons Instead of Thumbnails in File Explorer

By default, your Windows 11 File Explorer and desktop display thumbnails for files and folders.

Follow these steps if you do not want to see thumbnails, but you do want icons:

Open the File Explorer Options. Follow these steps to perform this task: Open Run by pressing Windows + R, type control folders, and then press Enter.

Go to the View tab.

Select the option “Always show icons, never thumbnails.”

Click on the “OK” button at the bottom.

Now, you will only see icons in the File Explorer and on your desktop.

Note: You can restore the default settings by following the steps above but unchecking the option.

Alternative Ways

Method #1

Open the System Properties pop-up window. To perform this task, press Windows + R to open Run, type sysdm.cpl, and then press Enter.

Click on the Advanced tab.

In the “Performance” section, click the “Settings” button.

Uncheck the “Show thumbnails instead of icons” option in the Performance Options window.

Click the “OK” button in the pop-up.

Note: Remember that you can go back by selecting the above-mentioned option and then clicking on the OK button.

Method #2

Launch the Registry Editor.

Before proceeding, I recommend taking a backup of the Registry.

Go to the following: HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > Explorer > Advanced.

Locate IconsOnly in the right pane and double-click it.

In the Value data field, provide 1 (for icons) or 0 (for thumbnails).

Hit the OK button.

That’s all.