How To Improve Windows Explorer's Media Preview Feature

Martin Brinkmann
May 8, 2012
Updated • Jan 1, 2013
Windows, Windows software, Windows tips

Windows Explorer, the default file browser of the Windows operating system, can display previews for select media files right in its interface. This only works for select display modes, and select file formats. While you may see preview thumbnails for wmv or mov files, you won't see previews for other popular file formats such as flv or mkv.

A lack of supported formats make the feature less usable than it initially appears. Another issue that some users may have with the default media previewing is that it usually captures the first frame of the media file and turns it into the thumbnail shown in Windows Explorer. That's a big issue if multiple media files start the same. This is for instance the case if you have ripped a season of your favorite TV show from DVD to your computer.

While those are the two most important issues you may experience in Windows Explorer, you may have also encountered smaller issues, like black thumbnail previews, or the inability to rename video files in Windows Explorer, even though they are not used by any visible process.

Media Preview, Improve Windows Explorer Media Thumbnails

windows explorer thumbnails

Media Preview is a third party software that resolves all issues mentioned above. The program comes in a 32-bit and 64-bit flavor, and compatibility with all versions of the Windows client system from Windows XP on.

When you first start it you will be presented with a settings window where you can configure the program behavior. Here it is for instance possible to assign the thumbnail generation for select file types over to the program, or have it handle all media file types automatically. You can even add your own formats, and there is a good chance that they will be compatible with the program if they are used by media formats.

Among the file types are 3g, Flash Video, Matroska video, RealMedia, avi and divx, as well as Ogg video or MPEG related file extensions.

media preview windows explorer thumbnails

The program will by default use the highest quality settings available to render the thumbnail previews for media files in Windows Explorer. If you notice a speed bump while navigating folders with media files, you may want to change the slider more towards the speed direction in the preferences, or customize the thumbnail generation in detail here.

media preview

Once you have made your selection, you should click on the Testing tab in the configuration utility. Here you can clear the thumbnail cache, or test the new feature by dragging and dropping media files into the target window to have their current thumbnail replaced by the thumbnail generated by Media Preview.

Closing Words

Media Preview does a lot of things right, from being available as a 32-bit and 64-bit version, to being a pure C++ application without dependencies on DirectShow, Java or the Microsoft .Net Framework. Add the impressive support for various file types, and options to change the quality of thumbnail generation, and you end with one of the best, if not the best, program for media thumbnail generation in Windows Explorer.  (thanks Mystique for the tip)

If you do not like the thumbnail previews in Windows Explorer at all, then check out speed up Windows Explorer by disabling thumbnail previews.


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  1. Anonymous said on March 9, 2023 at 1:52 pm

    Does it come back after every “moment” update?

  2. Baloney said on March 9, 2023 at 2:23 pm

    Yeah right.. Like this is going to stop defender from running =) This is comedy gold right here.

  3. Anonymous said on March 9, 2023 at 3:25 pm

    no ‘about the author’ paragraph?

  4. Gregory said on March 9, 2023 at 4:19 pm

    For permanent disable defender is if removed complete from system no just change permission folder.

    Just this is joke.

  5. moi said on March 9, 2023 at 5:57 pm

    simpler, load Autoruns (SysInternals)
    – filter “Defender”
    – untag all entries
    – reboot
    nothing has changed since my 1st modification years ago

  6. John G. said on March 9, 2023 at 6:32 pm

    I wouldn’t disable Defender imho, it has too many hidden roots inside Windows itself. One time I tried to uninstall it using brute force scripts and then the Onedrive feature stopped working definitely. A reinstallation was needed and since those times I prefer to maintain Defender untouched. It’s a better method to install another antivirus and it will disable Defender in a safer and easier mode (e.g., Avast is the best in this way, and also Panda Cloud Free is good too).

  7. boris said on March 10, 2023 at 12:19 am

    You can not stop defender from running in background or remove it without some penalty. All you can do is to limit telemetry.

    1. TelV said on March 10, 2023 at 4:52 pm


      It’s probably Smartscreen which is preventing WD from being disabled. Get rid of that and the problem should be solved:

  8. hoho said on March 10, 2023 at 1:47 pm

    Remove Windows and go for Linux.

    1. basingstoke said on March 10, 2023 at 2:51 pm

      Linux sucks dude. Besides it’s not comparable to Windows, these OSes are in different classes entirely.

      1. Derp said on March 10, 2023 at 4:36 pm

        I use Linux as my daily driver. It’s far more stable than Windows. When’s the last time you used Linux, 2010?

      2. Bromosexual said on March 11, 2023 at 2:04 am


        You’re right, dude. Bro, linux is just a bunch of code that starts before the OS, dude. Brobrodude, that shit ain’t even got emojis, dudebrodudeman! Dudebro, it’s no way near as cool as Windows with its hardcoded abilities to make money off the user, bro. Yo brodude man, you’re the coolest dude ever man, bro. Dude.

      3. basingstoke said on August 16, 2023 at 7:20 pm

        Lol what? Windows 7 doesn’t come with any Emojis

  9. TelV said on March 10, 2023 at 4:46 pm

    Download Autoruns and remove the checkmark from Windows Defender. It doesn’t remove it, but it will never run.

  10. Simon said on March 10, 2023 at 8:37 pm

    Just use “Defender Control”:

    Per this video,
    it also works on Windows 11 too…

  11. Someone said on March 10, 2023 at 9:26 pm

    Win Defender, is completly the most succesful free-built in antivirus of Microsoft. Really nice product. Saved my ass a lot of times. Has updated malware database, completly strong defence
    from whatever smart screen disables. Or if you want better and more upgrated (paid) program,
    you can go further. But defender is always on your side.

  12. CalixtoWVR1 said on March 10, 2023 at 10:03 pm

    Why would one disable Windows (or Microsoft) Defender in the first place?. I consider this to be playing with fire big time. Everybody knows that if one is using another A-V, Defender will be disabled on its own and won’t be in one’s way.

  13. Ed D said on March 10, 2023 at 11:09 pm

    Why would I want to disable Windows Defender in the first place? It’s a great anti virus in my opinion. Been using it since Windows 8 and and never had a problem or a virus. Why mess with a good thing, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

  14. owl said on August 17, 2023 at 1:57 am

    How a ridiculous article!
    I am thoroughly stunned.

    Why Should You Disable First-Party Windows Defender?
    I can only think that it is “malice or perversely intention (want you to buy a third-party AV where you can expect a back margin)” to guide invalidation without showing the premise.
    No sane company will use third-party closed source programs (such as AV).

    As I thought, “Ghacks Technology News” seems to be coming to downfall.

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