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Even in our age of speedy PCs, many people use removable or networked drives that can be frustratingly slow to browse—especially if we have to wait for each new file thumbnail to load in File Explorer. Luckily, it’s easy to speed up file browsing by disabling thumbnails completely. Here’s how.

First, open the “Start” menu and type “File Explorer Options.” Click the first result.

(Or, you can open a File Explorer window and select View > Options in the menu bar.)

Open Start and type File Explorer Options

In the File Explorer Options window that appears, click the “View” tab. In the “Advanced Settings” area, click the checkbox beside “Always show icons, never thumbnails.” Then, click “OK.”

If you’d like, open up a folder full of documents or images to test the new setting. You should only see standard icons for each file instead of thumbnails, which will very likely speed up your future file browsing experience.

If you ever change your mind and want thumbnails back, just revisit File Explorer Options and uncheck the box beside “Always show icons, never thumbnails.”

Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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