Speed up folder browsing in Windows Vista

Hi everyone! I thought I’d throw out a quick post to help some of you out that may be new to Windows Vista. Microsoft added a pretty cool feature to Vista called thumbnails. You may have noticed that unlike previous versions of Windows, when you open up a folder (such as in Windows Explorer), automatic thumbnails get created. The idea is that Vista takes a quick snapshot of what the document/image has in the file and then makes that its icon. Here’s a few examples…

As you can see, the picture icon can be pretty handy – particularly if you’re looking to quickly find a certain photo in a folder full of pictures. But what about the other ones – not necessarily that useful.

The problem is that when you open up a folder filled with files, Windows Vista goes to work on identifying each file type and if it’s one that it can make a thumbnail for, it goes to work in the background silently opening each file, creating and saving a thumbnail for it, and marking it for that file. Now, if you have a lot of files, this can take some time to do (and processor, memory, etc.). Maybe you noticed that green bar slowly inching across the address bar from the left to the right when you open a folder… that’s Vista at work trying to make your life easier.

If you like it, at least now you know what it’s doing. If you don’t like it and wish it would just open the folder quickly and be done with it, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s how to quickly shut that off:

  1. Click on the “Start” button, and in the search box, type in “Windows Explorer” (without the quotes) and then press enter.
  2. When Windows Explorer opens, click on the “Organize” menu item/button and select “Folder and Search Options.”
  3. On the “Folder Options” window that comes up, click on the “View” tab.
  4. Check the box that says “Always show icons, never thumbnails.”
  5. Click OK and close that instance of “Windows Explorer” – your done!

Not too difficult, was it?! Keep in mind that this will also save you some hard drive space. Remember that each file will have it’s own mini picture created for it… that can add up on a computer with a smaller hard drive.

Unfortunately, this is an all or nothing deal – you can’t decide which file types you want the thumbnails created for. And remember, if you decide you liked it better with the thumbnails, you can always go back in uncheck the box for “Always show icons, never thumbnails” and the next time you go into a folder, it will go back to the way it was.

Now, quit messing around on your computer and go have some fun!!!

— Jim

Check out my book written for the everyday user…

Just the Computer Essentials – A Plain-English, No-Nonsense Guide to Buying and Maintaining a PC Running the Windows Vistaâ„¢ Operating System for Your Home or Home Office

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