Fixing When All Thumbnail Icons Show the Same or Wrong Image

If you’ve ever encountered a problem where Windows seems to randomly assign the wrong icon thumbnails to your pictures, or sometimes they all show up with the same thumbnail picture for no reason. There’s a simple fix that almost always works.

Here’s a good example of the problem… almost all of the folders under my picture library are showing the Windows Media Player icon. How does that even happen? Sometimes they start showing the right image, but then they’ll randomly revert back, and forget about using one of the other views.

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The problem is that all of the preview thumbnail images used in the icons are stored in a cache file, which sometimes goes all wacky and gets corrupted, and requires some cleanup.

Fix the Problem with Disk Cleanup

To fix the problem, simply open up Disk Cleanup by typing “disk cleanup” into the start menu search, or find it under the accessories area. You can run a full disk cleanup if you want, but if you just want to quickly fix the problem, scroll down until you see Thumbnails and make sure that one is checked.

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You’ll want to click the “Clean up system files” button, wait for it to finish, and then probably log off and back on.

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Everything should be looking good now. Did it solve the problem for you?

Note that all the screenshots are from Windows 7, but we’ve used the same technique on Windows Vista as well.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.