Fix Slow Folders In 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
To change the option do the following:
- Open Windows Explorer and browse to the folder that you experience the slow loading times in.
- Select Organize from the top menu and select Properties from the context menu that opens up.
- Switch to customize and change the optimize this folder for value to general items.
- Click apply to save the changes.
If you are using Windows 8 or Windows 10, do the following instead:
- Right-click on the folder in File Explorer and select properties from the menu.
- Switch to the customize tab once it opens.
- Select "general items" under "optimize this folder for".
- Check the "also apply this template to all subfolders".
- 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.
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Big Thanks, i had the same problem and your tip fixed it.
Thanks for that. This has been driving me mad and my Downloads folder was only 500 Meg.
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
That fixed my problem as well!
There is no Customize tab on my Download folder.
phil, you need to look at the download folder from within your main folder and not from the favourites sidebar
Phil you need to explain this better so newbs won’t ask this.
this is great! fixed mine. thanks alot!
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
Thank you for the fix! This has been driving me crazy for months!
Your’e a genius, identical problem here, solved by your tweak.
Holy motherfker, thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!
I don’t have the customize option…only the other four?:(
Hey, thanks for posting, I had the same problem and that fixed it!
This problem had been really bugging me for quite some time now. Your solution worked a treat. Thanks so much.
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.
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.
super tip thanks a lot!
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.
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!
WOW! Had the very same file (downloads) that was ssssssllllllloooooooowwwwwww and changed from “pictures” to “general” — could not believe the speed difference! Thanx.
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=-
changed to general did the trick, thank you very much!
Ditto…just change it to general…
Thanks! This was exaxtly I was looking for!
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.
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!
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 ….
Thanks! Great Tip.
Worked for me, thank you!
Thanks for your great tip. It solved a lot of frustrations.
Thanks… It’s works….
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!
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
Thank you for this tip.
It solved my problem in Windows XP,
Thanks for posting. Fixed my problem.
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
it work extremely good to me! thank you very much!
OMG you are awesome!!! I seriously can’t think you enough!
Many thanks; the problem had been driving me crazy. Incidentally, I actually do work with a lot of video files
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.
fixed home network a treat. cheers
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.
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
lol … so simple and yet so hard. thnx 4 the tip. it work great :-)
Thank you for the fix! This has been driving me crazy for months!
Hey man thanks for the great tip, it works like a charm
nice, thx, silly problem,
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, :)
Nice that was my problem also and that fixed it.
You da man!
Awesome! Thank you so much. Was having the same problem and this cleared it right up.
I had the exact same problem. Downloads folder taking forever to show all the icons. Thanks a lot.
Wow. Thanks! I was searching for a solution over a year. Now everything’s quick again. :)
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.
Thank you! it fix my problem right away!
God bless you!
One of the best tips for W7… ever! Thank you!
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.
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.
OMG. Huge quality of life improvement for so many people, thank you so much, Martin. <3
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!
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 â€œDownloadâ€ folder to the new folder on your desktop.
Then delete the â€œDownloadsâ€ folder.
Then rename the folder on your desktop â€œDownloadsâ€.
Then drag and drop the new â€œDownloadsâ€ folder to where the old â€œdownloadsâ€ folder was.
Thats it. Your Done. The new â€œdownloadsâ€ folder shouldnâ€™t have any presets as to whats in the folder, or whats being downloaded into the folder.
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.
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!
The whole article is sound informative for me.
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.