No More File Names Under Thumbnails (XP)

Changing to thumbnails is great when you are viewing a folder that contains images. Instead of just seeing the file name (making it difficult to know which image is which), Windows Explorer will display each image as a thumbnail with the file name displayed below it. This way you know exactly what picture you are opening.

If you’ve played around with Windows XP, you have probably experimented with different views and are familiar with thumbnails. However, what you probably don’t know is that it can prevent Windows Explorer from displaying the file name under each thumbnail, thereby creating more space to display the images themselves.

And how do you do this? Well it’s very simple. To open the folder that contains your thumbnails, hold down the shift key, right click the folder and click Open. None of the file names will be displayed under the thumbnails. If you want the filenames back, just repeat the steps.

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  • dimitris

    great info there. just saved me a windows reinstall. i didnt realize it when i accidentally used the figure and i had no idea it wasnt a bug!
    huge thanks

  • Teo

    searched around but found no sulution until i read ur post! GREAT INFO! thanks for sharing the tips!

  • Nisani Adam

    I just wanna say THANK YOU! I lose my minds to solved this problem!!

    ‘No More File Names Under Thumbnails (XP)’

  • nettra

    thanks, really. i thought it was a bug too.

  • Scott

    Thanks so much. This has been annoying me for some time when I accidentally hid the file names, and now they’re back!

  • Ted

    Thank you, I have quite a few pix as I am working on a product to be printed with pix…they just disappeared. Now they’re back.

  • Tomara

    Such a SIMPLE solution to my silly problem! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  • Mike

    OMG. thanks for posting this here…. restart, file views, open/close, change views….the list goes on of everything i tried until i came here and found this. thanks again! (why is it that this stuff is kept in the dark by the folks who SHOULD make sure we are aware of it??!!)

  • Blair

    That’s VERY cool!

    I do have a related question though… I’ve been looking for a utility that will allow me to change the icon/thumbnail for files in XP. Specifically, in Thumbnail View AVI files generate an image of the first frame of the movie…NOT the most informative as it’s usually black. I can create a jpg or bmp of my desired frame, but how can I go about making it the thumbnail for the file?

    Any suggestions?

  • Hendry

    Thanks for the tips :)

    Realized how important the filenames was in thumbnail mode.

  • frustrated

    Still confused. Have tried this and it didn’t work. The filenames disappeared from under our thumbnails months ago and we can’t get them back in XP.
    Any further help would be great.


  • Oro

    Yeah, this is amazingly useful. It’d be so much better if this wasn’t a persistant thing tho. o.o

  • lydia

    thank you so much for the tip!

  • david

    wow, thanks for that. ive wondered how to fix this (bug) for ages!! i used to get around by renaming the directory =P

  • Andy

    omg i freaking love you.

    I was holding in Shift whenever I was renaming a folder, and sticky keys came up (which i accidentally hit ok to [eek]), and the thumbnail names disappeared.

    AND i have to go to bed since im getting up early tomorrow AND i didnt want to be worrying about this.

    so THANK YOU for saving me sleep and stress and time!

  • Keith H

    Thank you! Thank you! Talk about hidden option!

  • http://sadf Just me

    Thanks – you saved me from going crazy :)

  • Beks

    Thanks for the post and the info. I wondered what was going on!!!

  • Micah

    That’s just what I was looking for. I consider myself pretty computer savvy, but that was a new one to me. So helpful.

    Fun feature. Are there any other effects of using Shift (or possibly Ctrl and/or Alt) when selecting a file/folder?

  • Jon

    Thanks for this very useful information, but I wonder who would really want to hide their filenames on purpose…

  • Anthony

    Thank you, your an absolute legend!
    Can once again browse my music folder with the file name and thumbnails on :D.

  • D,D,

    Thank you so much! This is so helpful. Thank you!

  • M

    Thanks! I accidently turned off the filenames on mine and couldn’t figure out how to get it back until now :).

  • Ale3is

    +2 years after and it still saves people from reinstallation 😀 Thang very very much :)

  • Marc

    Thanks, as a few people have said I thought I was going to have to reinstal! :) Thanks again!

  • Scott

    interesting how most people use this tip to turn the feature off after accidentally activating it. very helpful tip though, thanks.

  • Adam

    Thanks alot, that helped me sort out this annoying problem i thought was windows being daft. :-)

  • dsVee

    as the most people here, i thought it was an error. Especially since it happens exactly after i install picasa.

    Thank you for solving my problem…

  • Laurence

    +1 to the list of people who thought they’d destroyed their XP install until they found this page.


  • JF

    this page helped me so much. i had been working on a huge photo project making an album from scanned photos. i must have mistakenly imputted this code when moving photos around quickly. it had confused me for a couple of days cause, i had been trying to figured out what setting i had changed.

  • John

    Great post !

    I was thinking the registry problem ……….thanks

  • Richard Bentley

    If it is not available in an expected menu as a properties change or other configuration change then it IS most definitely a bug, not a feature!!

  • Richard Bentley

    I forgot to say thanks for the info.

    That aside, I write computer code, and a programmer that writes such code with hidden pitfalls like this is a BAD programmer. If anyone has to turn to a site like this to learn about such things then it most definitely has to be chalked up to BAD PROGRAMMING. Good code puts everything where a reasonably skilled user can find it easily without resorting to documentation.

  • Richard Bentley

    Hopefully, after this 3rd comment I will shut up! This bug – that’s what I am calling it and I am sticking with it – is apparently stored along with folder properties. A single instance affects only a single folder, and doesn’t even change things in a preexisting sub folder (whether or not it changes things in new sub folders I have not tested). But, it does not appear to be saved in the thumbs file. I first tried changing the view to details and then deleting the thumbs file forcing it to build a new thumbs file when I changed the view back to thumbnails. The problem came back with the new thumbnails.

    And I noticed that one commenter mentioned sticky keys in connection with precipitating this problem. Don’t even get me started on sticky keys!!!

  • richie

    thanks for the tip… its a big help for me..
    but i have another problem….
    how about no video under thumbnail (xp)
    i really need to fix this as soon as possible…

  • Liz

    You’re a flipping genius! My filenames disappeared and it was driving me insane. Thank you!

  • Mudu

    First, I’d like to say thank you too. :)

    For those who’d like to re-appear the file names in all folders I have the following addition. On my box it did not work first, then I notices that it works for a single folder if I open it that way, but if I close and reopen the explorer window (or open another folder) they’re gone again.

    My solution was quite simple. I opened a folder as described in the post, holding the shift key down. Afterward I opened the folder options, switched to the view tab and hit the “Apply to All Folders” button. Then it was fine everywhere on my machine after reopening the explorer windows.

    Take care, if you remember the view settings for each folder (this is a folder options), all those view setting are destructed! I have no individual settings for each folder.

  • djsleven

    thanks alot…this decieved me all the time under the impression it was indeed a bug or glitch..

    thank you alot

    amazing what a few clicks could change

  • Adam

    You’re a life-saver, I thought I’d buggered something up, but it works just fine now!

    Thanks mate!

  • Ryan

    Thanks for sharing the tip, never would have thought to shift-click.

  • Daniel

    Thank you so much for this tip. This happened to my photos but only one folder and all the folders inside that main folder so I thought that maybe the folder and the photos in it were corrupt or there was a bug. After a bit of Google searching though I came across this helpful page. Thanks!!!

  • hannah

    weee!! me too!!
    i was slowly going nuts with it.

  • noxnoctis

    WOW… that is sweet!!! thanks a bunch dude, this paper tray above my desktop fell and after i cleared up the mess, i realized that all the names in my folder of tumbnails had disappeared… this solved everything thanks again =)

  • Ashley

    i have Vista and THIS DIDNT WORK FOR ME

    i followed the steps and it like opens the files in annother window and then it works most times but when i go back to the last folder it goes back to normal

    can someone please help me its driving me insane – every file in most of my folders have changed themselves from large icons to tiles (Vista wording)


  • Tyler


  • murni

    Thanks… Solve my problem..

  • Remco

    Cool. I was actually looking for the reverse, to hide the filenames in thumbnail view. Great tip!

  • fabio

    1000 thanks,
    I kiss the feet of this goddess of explorer,
    long life to Diana Huggins!

  • Colin

    wow, I had no idea

    does anyone know the registry key that controls this? this was really weirding me out for awhile! thanks!

  • Corey

    Awesome, sticky keys on my EEE 1000h keeps doing this. I turned them off, but they keep coming back on. Damn windows….

  • James

    thank you so much!

    i was kept deleting the folder and making a new folder to handle the problem, until i found this article. ^^

  • Brian

    Add one more to the list that you’ve saved. Thanks for the tip – saved us a ton of time fixing my wife’s pc.

    Damn cats need to stay off our keyboards!

  • Az

    Thanks! this saved me alot of trouble… As nettra said, I thought it was a bug too.

  • DAZ

    dont know how i managed to turn this off,but your
    advice is spot on,many thx.

  • Brian


    Instead of right-clicking and choosing Open, you can simply hold down the Shift key while opening a folder in the normal fashion. (Much like Shift+Delete bypasses the Recycle Bin.)

    Besides being simpler, this also does not open a new window (unless you’ve set your Explorer options to do so normally).

  • Steve

    Thanks a ton, a glitch caused that to happen to my thumbnail files but I fixed it using this.

  • Iván


    Thanks to you. Shame to Microsoft once again.

  • Saad

    Works like a charm.

  • -Phil-

    Thank you so much … I was thinking to reinstall windows because of this “bug”

  • Jill

    Thanx so much! No where else I looked seemed to have this answer. Awesome.

  • /P/U/G/U/H/

    thanks a lot !!
    this is what i’ve been lookin around

  • mark

    thanks a lot i was gonna restore my computer
    and restore all my ccleaner backups