Fix Slow Folders In Windows 7

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 4, 2010
Updated • Jul 15, 2018
Windows, Windows 7

The following guide provides you with a solution for folders opening very slowly in Windows Explorer or File Explorer on a Windows device.

Recently, I started to notice that one folder on a Windows 7 machine was very slow to open. It took minutes literally for files to be displayed and was a very frustrating experience. Other folders opened fine and in less than a second usually which made the issue quite puzzling.

It took a while to figure out why the folder was slow loading, and how to fix the issue to speed things up again.

The folder was the machine's download folder where all downloads and file transfers landed. It grew to a size of roughly 250 Gigabytes of data with all file types present: videos, photos, documents, programs and music.

I first assumed it was simply too big, or that the many files and subfolders inside would be the cause of the loading animation in the location bar. But deleting files and folders did not fix the problem.

Fix Slow Folders In Windows

There were other possibilities of which I explored all but none fixed the problem. This included antivirus software, shell extensions, the view mode or thumbnail caching.

It took a while to figure out what caused the slow folders issue on the system that I examined. Note that this appears to be a very common issue but it is definitely not the only one.

I checked the folder properties to see how this folder was optimized in Windows 7. It was set to pictures. This was not right, since the majority of files in that folder were not pictures but videos.

I changed that value to videos and placed a checkmark in the "also apply this template to all subfolders" checkbox. (it also worked changing it to general items and documents with general items probably the best choice.

Fixing the issue

slow folder windows

To change the option do the following:

  1. Open Windows Explorer and browse to the folder that you experience the slow loading times in.
  2. Select Organize from the top menu and select Properties from the context menu that opens up.
  3. Switch to customize and change the optimize this folder for value to general items.
  4. Click apply to save the changes.

If you are using Windows 8 or Windows 10, do the following instead:

  1. Right-click on the folder in File Explorer and select properties from the menu.
  2. Switch to the customize tab once it opens.
  3. Select "general items" under "optimize this folder for".
  4. Check the "also apply this template to all subfolders".
  5. Click ok to finalize the change.

The result was incredible. The folder contents where displayed right away without loading time. I reverted the settings only to experience the slow loading folder contents once again.

It is safe to assume that this is some kind of caching gone wrong. I'm not sure why it was set to pictures in first place but this is the cause for the slow loading folder.

Windows may optimize folders for certain content types. That's fine if it works, and a folder full of photos gets optimized with the pictures template. Not so fine if Windows gets it wrong though, as you will end up with a slow opening folder.

Update: The issues may occur on newer versions of the Windows operating system as well. The most likely cause is that the folder has been optimized for the display of pictures, but it may also be that other optimization types are assigned to it that slow down the display of the contents.

My suggestion is to always select General Items and check the "Also apply this template to all subfolders" option as well to make sure that all subfolders are also optimized as general items.

Check out How to fix slow folders in Windows Explorer for additional tips.

Fix Slow Folders In Windows 7
Article Name
Fix Slow Folders In Windows 7
If Windows takes a long time to display the contents of folders, you may need to change the folder type to speed things up.
Ghacks Technology News

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. fulwilerba said on July 16, 2021 at 5:16 pm

    Same problem for me. But I was using an old shortcut from backup files to open the folder. Short story is that making a new shortcut fixed it for me. So, setting the folder to “general” probably helped too, but didn’t completely do the trick.

  2. khansb said on March 24, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    The whole article is sound informative for me.

  3. ed said on February 12, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    neither the original tip of the copy to desktop tip correct the problem. I have 13,000+ .txt files of 32mb in a folder. this is ridiculous. MICROSOFT WAKE UP!

  4. Ron said on February 6, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    That does not help. It was already in ‘general’. I also deleted and disabled the thumbnails cache and disabled thumbnails. Disabled the win defender and other real time protection pragrams. Still ‘discovering items’ for a minute…
    The strangest thing is that it happens only in the main (root) foldrer with avi files. The subfolders are normal.

  5. john said on November 16, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    I think I figured out how to make this fix permanent.

    Create a new folder on your desktop.

    Drag all of the files in your “Download” folder to the new folder on your desktop.

    Then delete the “Downloads” folder.

    Then rename the folder on your desktop “Downloads”.

    Then drag and drop the new “Downloads” folder to where the old “downloads” folder was.

    Thats it. Your Done. The new “downloads” folder shouldn’t have any presets as to whats in the folder, or whats being downloaded into the folder.

  6. Terry said on October 19, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Thanks for this, it may be pretty old now but it just fixed a folder that like yours was pretty full and would take forever to load watching the progress bar slowly go to the end then end up saying folder empty even though my media player see’s every video of PBS shows I’ve put in it and plays them fine, THANKS!

  7. Jason Fonceca said on August 17, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    OMG. Huge quality of life improvement for so many people, thank you so much, Martin. <3

  8. Billy said on December 4, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    This had annoyed me for ages in my email attachments folder, it would take literally minutes to display.

    Changed to ‘General Items’ and it now displays virtually instantly.

  9. kpaull said on November 1, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    Brilliant, the folder on my network drive was set to General for Optimization. I selected Videos, then reselected General, then checked the “also apply this template to all subfolders”. I hit the Apply button.


  10. Rui said on September 19, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    One of the best tips for W7… ever! Thank you!

  11. simon said on September 9, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Thank you!

  12. mario said on September 5, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Thank you! it fix my problem right away!
    God bless you!


  13. RickRandom said on July 21, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    This has been a real pain for the last couple of months on my Win 7 work laptop, but this tip fixed it – many, many thanks.

  14. Badgon said on March 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Wow. Thanks! I was searching for a solution over a year. Now everything’s quick again. :)

  15. Rick said on February 2, 2013 at 3:20 am

    I had the exact same problem. Downloads folder taking forever to show all the icons. Thanks a lot.

  16. Bobby said on January 15, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Awesome! Thank you so much. Was having the same problem and this cleared it right up.

  17. Dave said on January 8, 2013 at 3:20 am

    Nice that was my problem also and that fixed it.
    You da man!


  18. Kostas said on November 27, 2012 at 12:17 am

    Thank you very much. I couldn’t figure out that problem, i said to my self that it was windows 7 problem so everytime i wanted to see my pictures i boot windows xp (dual boot pc). Google brought me here thanks google too, :)

  19. erik said on September 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    nice, thx, silly problem,

  20. Fito said on September 19, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Hey man thanks for the great tip, it works like a charm

  21. Anonymous said on September 13, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Thank you for the fix! This has been driving me crazy for months!

  22. joe said on August 7, 2012 at 7:25 am

    lol … so simple and yet so hard. thnx 4 the tip. it work great :-)

  23. Rob said on August 1, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Thanks for sharing – I have a huge libary of Anime/Manga pics with 12 subs totalling over 7000 pictures with huge pixel rates and the thumbnails just werent even loading up (espeshilly the bmp’s) despite having an i7. I moved the folder to the desktop and set it to video’s and it DOES make a huge differance. Thank you

  24. Anonymous said on July 31, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Wow thank you so much, I had an external hard drive that would take ages to open any folder or file and now after fixing it using your recommendation it works super fast as it should … stupid Microsoft and Windows 7 “Optimize for General items” Optimize for SLOW what an idiot can come out with such stupid optimization concept, only at Microsoft they have such kind of lack of imagination.

  25. higgles said on July 30, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    fixed home network a treat. cheers

  26. carolyn said on July 28, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    Thanks! I just changed the optimize selection to “documents” instead of “general” (where it was and properly set to) and also selected “include subfolders” (where there are none) and windows now opens my DOWNLOADS folder INSTANTLY! (even though it’s now set to optimize the kind of contents it doesn’t contain.) Must be some kind of system glitch.

  27. Pierre said on July 24, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Many thanks; the problem had been driving me crazy. Incidentally, I actually do work with a lot of video files

  28. Kim said on July 14, 2012 at 1:12 am

    OMG you are awesome!!! I seriously can’t think you enough!

  29. Anonymous said on July 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    it work extremely good to me! thank you very much!

  30. Moshe said on June 23, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    To Fix this Problem i add the Key “FileInfoCacheLifetime” with value 1 to Registry. As above: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanWorkstation\Parameters\FileInfoCacheLifetime = 1

  31. Nick said on May 17, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Thanks for posting. Fixed my problem.

  32. Masroor Aijaz said on March 31, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Thank you for this tip.

    It solved my problem in Windows XP,

  33. Boris said on March 28, 2012 at 4:27 am

    Fixed my problem as well – folder with 400gb of mp4 videos with filetype set to video was painfully slow to load. Changed to general, and boom! fixed!

    Thanks for the tip

  34. David said on March 27, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Thanks, this has been bugging me for months, but this solves it. Incredible that even the My Pictures folder should be optimized for Videos instead of Pictures for proper displaying in Windows Explorer!

  35. Anonymous said on March 22, 2012 at 2:51 am

    Thanks… It’s works….

  36. Sven Vanleke said on March 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Thanks for your great tip. It solved a lot of frustrations.

  37. romunov said on February 22, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Worked for me, thank you!

  38. Rakesh Malhotra said on February 7, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Thanks! Great Tip.

  39. bilgar02 said on January 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Great. Worked for me, too. Was already on ‘Video’ so changed it to ‘General’, ticked the box & was away … :)

    Wish I’d known about this fix long ago – I’ve suffered on previous computer ….

  40. Jeff said on November 30, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Works for me. I was having problems with slow folder shares from my home file server.
    This solution fixed it for me, and I thought I had a bad drive, starting to fail, etc….

    Load off my mind, many many thanks!

  41. mkk said on November 27, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Users might also want to make sure that such folders are no included in the Windows Search indexing database. (Indexing Options in the control panel) Windows 7/Vista has a knack for unwisely recommending the user to add with a click, any folder within one searches to the indexing database. Even turning off the Windows Search indexing database completely would be a good idea for most users, although then the system will stupidly bug you about it every time you make a search. Such are the tradeoffs of making choices in Windows.

  42. Rafael said on October 12, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Thanks! This was exaxtly I was looking for!

  43. woohoo said on October 8, 2011 at 12:36 am

    changed to general did the trick, thank you very much!

    1. Wayne said on May 31, 2012 at 1:49 am

      Ditto…just change it to general…

  44. zZz said on September 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    My issue was “I clicked on folders and they took like 31 seconds to appear” solution to reset folder settings with reset settings button worked like a charm, folders come up in about 0.0025th of a second now so yeah thanks alot folks Iam content once again with My PC Experience…! ~(____)~CheerzZz..-=8^)~(^8=-

  45. dac said on September 14, 2011 at 8:37 am

    thanks.. ::)

  46. Nathan said on August 27, 2011 at 2:26 am

    Excellent fix

  47. REDO said on August 15, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    WOW! Had the very same file (downloads) that was ssssssllllllloooooooowwwwwww and changed from “pictures” to “general” — could not believe the speed difference! Thanx.

  48. Doug said on July 22, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Thank You thank you thank you. Now I can stop screaming at my computer during the long waits while singing the “Programmers (or their bosses) who set stupid defaults should be executed” song!

  49. Alan said on July 9, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Worked great for me. Changing to Video didn’t do much, but changing to General Files did. Like others, this has been bothering me for a while.

  50. JC said on June 23, 2011 at 10:33 am

    super tip thanks a lot!

  51. IT Support said on June 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    I think Win 7 takes a sort of snapshot of the folder content at some point and determines automatically what sort of optimisation it should apply function of what majority of the files are. I had videos mostly in one folder at some point and i shared the folder. Accessing it over the network was a nightmare. with time the contents became rather mixed with very little video content. The optimisation didn’t change and the folder continued to be treated as videos mostly. Disabling thumbnails and indexing did speed things up a little.
    Switching to “General” helped a LOT mostly on the loading the folder over the network. Locally I can’t say I see much difference though. … maybe just bit.

  52. GreenAsJade said on May 25, 2011 at 10:14 am

    The customize option doesn’t appear on root folders like C:Program Files, only subfolders.

    It’s not due to caching, it’s due to Windows7 trying to determine informaiton about content as the folder is opened, if the content is “interesting” like pictures/video.

  53. Kenneth said on May 18, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    This problem had been really bugging me for quite some time now. Your solution worked a treat. Thanks so much.

  54. Cedrick said on May 11, 2011 at 6:30 am


  55. :) said on April 27, 2011 at 4:20 pm


  56. Yankl said on April 12, 2011 at 6:19 am

    Hey, thanks for posting, I had the same problem and that fixed it!

  57. Caro said on February 12, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I don’t have the customize option…only the other four?:(

  58. Anonymous said on February 9, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Holy motherfker, thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!

  59. BlogPiG said on January 28, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Your’e a genius, identical problem here, solved by your tweak.

    Nice one.

  60. DSM said on December 6, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Thank you for the fix! This has been driving me crazy for months!

  61. Walt Disney said on August 5, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Awesome! I have been trying all different fixes for this problem. I had the same thing enabled with General Files and that did not do it. Thanks

  62. Daniel Tan said on July 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    this is great! fixed mine. thanks alot!

  63. stuart said on July 4, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    phil, you need to look at the download folder from within your main folder and not from the favourites sidebar

    1. Rick said on June 19, 2014 at 9:16 pm

      Phil you need to explain this better so newbs won’t ask this.

  64. Phil said on June 5, 2010 at 2:12 am

    There is no Customize tab on my Download folder.

  65. Hermund said on April 4, 2010 at 12:16 am


    That fixed my problem as well!

  66. Fayte said on March 21, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    I just couldn’t not believe that something so simple cleaned up not only my download folder but also my largest picture folder. It used to take at least a minute to load the picture folder. now it’s instant happiness :D

  67. Rich said on March 13, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Thanks for that. This has been driving me mad and my Downloads folder was only 500 Meg.

  68. lordarmitage said on March 12, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Big Thanks, i had the same problem and your tip fixed it.

  69. usman19317 said on February 5, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    i joine your web sites i want member your sits

  70. isoooo said on February 5, 2010 at 2:15 am


    The post that you came across addictive tips,i ever came across in Techgravy blog and post it more earlier.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.