How to Show Icons Instead of Thumbnails in File Explorer

Your Windows 11 File Explorer and desktop display thumbnails for files and folders by default.

Follow these steps if you don’t want to see thumbnails but want icons.

How to Show Icons Instead of Thumbnails in File Explorer

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

Go to the View tab.

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

Click on the “OK” button at the bottom.

That’s it. Now, you’ll 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

How to Show Icons Instead of Thumbnails in File Explorer using System Properties

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

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 popup.

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

See: How to Allow Users to Delete Printers

How to Show Icons Instead of Thumbnails in File Explorer using Registry Editor

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

Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > Explorer > Advanced.

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

Provide 1 (for icons) or 0 (for thumbnails) in the Value data field.

Hit the OK button.

That’s all.

I hope this guide, “How to Show Icons Instead of Thumbnails in File Explorer,” is helpful to you.

Thanks for reading.