XP Style folder thumbnails RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi,
    In XP folders with pictures could put upto 4 thumbnails on the folder icon in thumbnail view. In Vista, I get the open folder with some angled pictures mostly obscured. Looks pretty, but not very functional.

    I suggest that this 4 way snapshot be restored. Given the huge large icon space Vista offers, perhaps even a 3x3 grid offering 9 thumbnails?

    Regard, Mark.
    Monday, May 4, 2009 8:33 AM


  • Thank you for the feedback, Mark. Though it seems that we may not restore this function in Windows Vista, we can hope that this will be available in the next version of Windows – Windows 7. You can download trial version of Windows 7 and submit feedback to our product team. Meanwhile, I can also forward your feedback to our develop team. Thank you.

    Sean Zhu - MSFT
    Wednesday, May 6, 2009 7:33 AM

All replies

  • Thank you for the feedback, Mark. Though it seems that we may not restore this function in Windows Vista, we can hope that this will be available in the next version of Windows – Windows 7. You can download trial version of Windows 7 and submit feedback to our product team. Meanwhile, I can also forward your feedback to our develop team. Thank you.

    Sean Zhu - MSFT
    Wednesday, May 6, 2009 7:33 AM
  • Sean, I am begging you on hands and knees, please put this feature in Windows 7. The current folder design is brutal. It forces you to memorize where all your photos are because it is impossible for anyone over the age of 40 (and maybe younger) to clearly see the severely angled thumbnail. The current display totally ruins the ease of use concept. So again, please bring back the XP style of folder thumbnail. It may not look as pretty, but it does something much more important: it makes the folder thumbnail useful, as opposed to the current useless.


    Wednesday, June 3, 2009 1:46 AM
  • Has this request made it in to the RTM / Final release of Windows 7, or is there any planned patch to enable this?  I also have major issues with this annoying "improvement" to the UI.
    Tuesday, October 6, 2009 4:01 PM
  • I am not finding any way to do this in Windows 7... annnnnd it is driving me insanely crazy. I work with photos and graphics all day, every day, most of which are in folders named after the date they were created. Instead of a nice 4-image preview, I'm now lucky if I even get 2 half-obscured, slanted photos - and, more often than not, I get 2 half-obscured, slanted photoshop icons... Not. cool.
    Wednesday, November 11, 2009 10:13 AM
  • The Thumbnail view in XP was very good, as you can easily recognize any folder containing pictures. I could even just place an image of my interest in a folder to specially recognize it. This is completely lost in Windows 7. Folder view options Large and Extra Large options dosent help in Windows 7. This is really very very annoying in Windows 7.

    The next is how files look under thumbnail view, in XP , when thumbnail is chosen the files will be arranged in a nice grid of "Square" thumbnail view of the file, it could be any file particularly the file name could be of any length but it would still show in a proper grid. But in Windows 7 for example files with different name length alter the row display size , it is even worse with video files.

    How to get these two things in Windows 7 as it was in XP. It would be better if the user given the choice of what they want rather forcing with a pre design, moreover we still use Windows 7 as we are used to Windows OS , we have been using XP for 8 years, suddenly forcing someone to the new folder view in Windows 7, without the optional XP kind of view is making me seriously think about giving up Windows OS.
    Tuesday, December 8, 2009 5:33 PM
  • There was just a thread on cgtalk.com about this- I was hoping for some sort of 3rd party hack or something to return to an xp style- but apparently no dice. Not being able to visually scan folders is a major setback for me. This new folder icon is a triumph of style over substance. It might seem to some people a small matter, but has me for the first time seriously considering other operating systems.
    Friday, March 26, 2010 12:16 PM
  • Our company upgraded to windows 7 recently. We do a lot of graphical work and I desperately miss the windows xp style thumbnail preview. The new windows 7 folder preview is very poor and unpractical, it only shows approx. 60% of it's area as yellow folder cover and white space. It's no more possible to precisely find out what images are in a folder without entering it. Furthermore many thumbnails do show distorted into a square, that looks like a bug.

    The idea is good, but in a day to day work with loads of images the new style is absolutey useless.


    Sunday, May 2, 2010 11:38 AM
  • Is there any news on this yet? I think it's a shame not being able to chose which style you want. I like to have a jpg of an album/video cover named folder in my music and video folders as it's easier to see what's what, I also think it looks a lot better. I think the windows 7/vista open folder looks a bit naff, the pic inside is made smaller and the front cover of the folder is distracting. Although this might seem trivial it's not because it is how I interface with the majority of the data on my pc.
    Wednesday, June 30, 2010 12:12 AM
  • i have to say, that lack of those icons is one of the most annoying things in this system. Is there any solution yet? 
    Sunday, July 18, 2010 6:10 PM
  • I think there is no lack without upgrading to be able to downgrade to xp, i dont like that. it is just about  taking money out of our pocket. i hope somebody will find solution.

    here is the link explaining what i mean. http://www.timesnews.net/blogger.php?id=5&postid=7730

    Sunday, July 18, 2010 6:26 PM
  • Where there's a will, there's a way...although it isn't quite as simple and practical as it was & should be. You can use a program like IcoFX (freeware), which includes a utility for batch creation of icon (.ico) files. This requires a few extra steps but actually has some advantages over the thumbnail approach. For example, .ico files are able to display transparency, so you are not limited to only square images as is the case with thumbnails (hint: convert from transparent .png files). Also, .ico images can be seen in all views in Explorer, even details and list views.

    To take it a step further, there is other freeware out there that allow you to quickly and easily assign icons to folders, which you can group together into .icl icon libraries for easy access.

    Hope this approach gives someone out there a viable alternative. For the record, I hate the new thumbnail style too, and don't understand the logic behind the change. IMO, it was superficial annoying changes like this that gave the greatly improved OS called Vista (now a dirty word) such a bad name. Unfortunately, this little annoyance must have slipped through the cracks when MS was reinventing it's OS  for windows 7.

    Tuesday, July 27, 2010 11:23 PM
  • I am begging to get a solution to this. I am just realizing HOW good this funciton was in Windows XP. It even will give you the first frame of a video file as one of the icons. Very nice for being able to identify quickly what is in a given folder.

    Creating static icon files like above is not the answer. These need to be dynamic.

    Please - there has to be a way to replace the silly new default folder icon with the one from Windows XP.



    Wednesday, August 4, 2010 5:19 AM
  • I'm an artist and need to preview many folders in my work.  The new windows 7 folders are totally useless for this. There might as well be no preview picture because this design doesn't function effectively. I wonder if this new design was entirely an aesthetic decision or is there some practical reason for this change.  Change for the sake of change is infuriating. If I can't find a fix, I'm going back to xp.  This is unfortunate, because 7 has a lot of good features that I will miss.
    Friday, August 27, 2010 1:50 PM
  • What I don't understand is that this was a common complaint about Windows Vista...a simple web search will demonstrate countless blogs, forums  and various customer comments covering this issue, and the displeasure with the esthetics-over-function change. So if so many people hate them, why did they make it into Windows 7, which was supposedly based on user feedback. It is unfathomable that this complaint did not get mentioned repeatedly during development seeing how common these complaints are.

    There are 3 key reasons why I am holding on to XP for dear life, rather than upgrading to Windows 7 on my desktop (my laptops came with Windows 7 and Vista, so I am very familiar with the new OSes). They are...


    1. The death of toolbars. I don't care how mac-like the new taskbar is, I miss the ability to have multiple shortcut toolbars around the desktop, one of the best (secret) features of the older Microsoft software! Dozens (just counted - 37 to be exact) of regularly used apps were available with one single click...now there are libraries and explorers that may serve the same function, but can result in the need for multiple clicks to launch a single app. Esthetics over function. The feature returned (dumbed down) in Vista, but now it's gone completely.

    2. The damned 3D thumbnail view. Unforgivable, since it was well known how many people hated these. (and there is an icon count limit that makes converting artwork to icons impractical for mu purposes (985 main artwork directories with over 3000 sub directories puts me way over the icon limit.) Esthetics over function.

    3. The loss of the ability to have background images in each window. I used this when creating folders containing groups of shortcuts. My games may have a game wallpaper, my utilities a toolbox image in the lower right corner, my music a cd or treble clef image...Esthetics over function.


    For some reason, every release of a Windows operating system REMOVES useful functions from the previous release, nearly always in the area of customization. Well, there's a limit to how much visual control I am willing to give over to an OS that I paid for. Remove the user's ability to tweak the look and feel in areas such as these, and you've removed this user. I'm sorry, I am not an MS slammer, and have happily supported every OS since 3.1. But the current direction is to shut the user out, and adopt Mac-like interface "features" whether they are an improvement or not. This is forcing me into an open source decision, where an unsupported feature can be added with simple scripting.

    I don't mean to post a "diss" but you really should understand why some of the more computer literate of us are jumping ship. It's becoming impossible to use the OS without a hex editor!


    God I miss DOS... It did what I needed, nothing more! I decided how it "looked"!


    Tuesday, September 7, 2010 12:05 PM
  • I too am desperate to get the xp style folder back, for visual browsing which is impossible in 7. Now it is December 30th, still no news on the subject, a patch or plug in or something?

    I really don't understand why it couldn't be an OPTION in windows 7, to choose xp style icons, how hard can it be?

    I would like to hear if Microsoft is taken notice of all the comments on this subject, or are we just being ignored?

    Thursday, December 30, 2010 5:32 PM
  • The way Windows 7 displays  folder contents is totally screwed up.  The thumbnail grid view from XP needs to be brought back.  Like many have said,  it is way too difficult to determine the contents of a folder the way Windows 7 does it. It should at least be made an option.  I also think that "Delete" should be an option in the side panel when a file or folder is clicked on (like XP),  not just a choice when something is right-clicked on.
    Saturday, February 5, 2011 8:41 PM
  • I just realized this is missing from my new Server 2008 and Windows 7 installations. I cycled through the "View" options several times but cannot get pictures to display. This is extremely annoying when you download pics from the web and there is no identifying name to the JPG. Now I have to:


    1. Open and scroll through the pictures until I find the one I want
    2. Notate the File Name
    3. Close the Picture
    4. Remember the File Name
    5. Locate the File that I have notated the name
    6. Rename said file

    Now lets' just hope I remember the file name among the 35000 pictures I have. Like a previous poster said, it is pathetic that the actual use-able features from previous versions of Windows are removed. This is a huge takeaway for me. I struggle to QA software on a daily basis that struggles through UAC, now this. Awesome.

    Monday, May 2, 2011 6:23 PM
  • So what's happened? It's nearly November of 2011. 

    I run a business creating custom items for customers. I used to let them browse through the thumbnail previews on my computer to let them pick out what they wanted and in what style. When you count folders and subfolders, there are several hundred that my clients can potentially browse through. Being able to quickly scan the preview thumbnails on the folders USED to be a real asset - particularly since they don't already know what's in ANY of the folders already as I do. 

    When are you going to design that patch? I know I'm not the only one who wants and/or needs it. 

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011 6:51 PM
  • Not a fix or a patch but I haven't seen this posted anywhere,


    Pic of some movies on my office computer with Windows 7. Put all the files in a sub folder leaving out (1) picture file. You get that as a preview. Works for every type, pics, video, music.

    Not the flat XP pic I would prefer but better than the pointless jumble of 3D crap your usually stuck with.

    Thursday, December 29, 2011 5:14 PM
  • An excellent solution!!  Very satisfied with IcoFX!!!
    Thursday, January 5, 2012 2:21 AM
  • And it's now March 2012 and I still haven't heard of a solution..!!

    I only switched to Windows 7 recently as my old laptop was running out of steam for editing video, etc., etc... and I'm totally horrified to discover that I can't sort my image/music/video folders VISUALLY any more...!!!

    The ''new'' 3D ''open folders'' in Windows 7 are USELESS... and provide NO REAL INFORMATION about the contents of a folder...

    WHY WHY WHY... is a perfectly good, simple, and efficient system for folder recognition dumped... just so that a ''change'' can be advertised...! If it's NOT an improvement... DON'T DO IT...!! - or at the very least, give people the option to use the now outdated ''old method'' if they want to...

    The 3D folders in Windows 7 are pathetic and retrograde. At least provide a patch so that the old XP versions can be used in 7. Try ''listening'' to your customers...!!!!!

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 12:05 AM
  • Okay, I'm seriously not a happy customer right now.  I got stuck with a computer with Windows 7 on it against all my better judgement, but it was more for my kids.  Now here I am, trying to just organize some photos and graphic files on your ridiculous system and these 3D folders are a joke.  They serve NO purpose whatsoever and it seems I, and millions of others after doing a quick search online, all share the same opinion.  You stated this back in 2009 that there would possibly be a fix in future versions past Vista.  Well, ok, this is Windows 7 and yet there is still no fix (none that I could find).  I have plenty of enough tech knowledge to do a dual boot or eliminate your OS completely from my computer but I was hoping not to be forced to.  However, this silly decision you made with the folders and a lack of solution leads me no choice.  You mean to tell me in three years you couldn't figure out with all of the complaints that this is a major issue for a lot of us?  Get a clue, MS.  I'm switching OS's.  What a shame you are downgrading and not listening to your customers.
    Monday, April 2, 2012 4:23 AM
  •      For users who must constantly peruse extensive GRAPHICS libraries (for use in Photoshop, or digital scrapbooking) the changes made to the File Explorer in Windows 8 are not simply something to get used to - they are a serious problem.  Users need to be able to easily & speedily see (or at least, be reminded of) what JPEG/PNG's are located in each folder. The half-opened folder icon DOES NOT service this need.  The solution would be to give us THE OPTION in the PICTURE TOOLS / MANAGE screen to VIEW XP FORMAT along with the Large Icons, List, Content, etc.  You could provide this in a downloadable patch file - and thousands of Windows users would keep the faith. Please consider. I'm at wit's end, ready to return the computer and buy a Mac.
    Friday, November 23, 2012 4:46 PM
  • I'm with SunShiner 54 - Microsoft you need to listen to your customers, this inflexibility is ridiculous.  At the very least, you should provide an extension or patch that users can add to their system to avail themselves of this important USER REQUIREMENT. I am trying to manage over 400 GB or music files, and each directory has an appropriate folder.jpg file (moreover, each mp3 file has the embedded image file as well), and to have to put up with the crappy distorted folder view is unacceptable.

    You want users to sing your praises (instead of going to Macs?) - then listen and react.

    Sign me FRUSTRATED!!!

    Friday, November 23, 2012 10:01 PM
  • I just stumbled across this forum also in desperate search for a solution to the AWFUL frilled out folder icons that obstruct the thumbnails inside.  And also to mourn the loss of the AWESOME 4 panel thumbnails preview that XP folders HAD.  This is my biggest gripe about this operating system!  Let me just echo what the other users on this forum have been saying...so here goes...clearing my throat..:


    But you won't include it will you Microsoft?  Bill gates is trying to make a kinder gentler machine for the drooling masses.  I haven't sat in front of a Windows 8 machine yet but every time a commercial for 8 comes on I think, "Windows 8; now kid and senior friendly". But 7 is actually not a user friendly operating system at all, it just tries to look like one with its ASININE FANCY FRILLED OUT FOLDER FOLLY BS.

    Other complaints about windows 7:

    Circular menus...you can get to where you want from too many places; options from within menus will re-direct you back to the beginning of that menu...LAME!  I feel like I have to leave breadcrumbs for myself so I can navigate around!

    Newspeak...what the F*** is a "Library" and why should I care?  Are you trying to tell me that another system of organizing files has been layered over the existing filesystem? Why not add a third layer and call it, I don't know..."The Magazine Section". Durr!!

    There are a few things I like about Windows 7 but I'm too mad right now to say.  Stay well everybody, good night.

    Friday, November 30, 2012 7:39 AM
  • This is my biggest frustration with Windows 7. For graphic artists, photographers, anyone who has to work with thousands of images, the changes made to file folders are a complete disaster. Taking away the ability to untick auto-arrange on the right click menu and no folder thumbnail display made my job impossible. I've had to install XP on a virtual machine in order to effeciently continue with my work while I look for a new OS. A stupendous blunder that will have image artists leaving this OS in droves. I'm truly shocked at the stupidity of this change. There is no adapting here, this is a complete deal breaker.
    Thursday, December 20, 2012 9:24 AM
  • Counting windows 8.1 now and bumping a 4 1/2 year old thread.

    Is it just me or has the "flat" folders still not been implemented? I sure cant find them.

    If not, Microsoft are completely out of synch with reality and loose 6 potential licensed customers in my end on this issue alone. Thx for the 8.1 trial and goodbye forever.

    Sunday, January 19, 2014 1:23 AM
  • 8.1 has shipped and this issue is still not solved yet, cannot believe it.


    The distorted and useless folder thumbnail is clearly a very bad design, can we just make something better than this? What are the UX team doing? This should be a P0 bug and 9 should not be shipped without it fixed.


    A Windows without all those bundled apps, without IE, is still a good Windows. Those things can be perfectly solved by 3rd party.

    A Windows without a proper Explorer, is not.

    • Edited by Heng Jiang Wednesday, February 5, 2014 8:00 AM
    Wednesday, February 5, 2014 7:48 AM
  • I too hate the vertical view folders icon and I loved the xp styled folder view. Until recently I have been using two computers, one running win 7 for my programs and one running xp just for storage of my files. I can not believe microsoft haven't brought an option for the xp style folders in win 8.

    What I do now is make my own icons. This is far from ideal and not at all what we are asking for but I love using win 8 and I hate the vertical folders. It is quite time consuming making icons for folders, I wouldn't advise doing so for a folder you were only planning on keeping for a short period of time but most of my folders i plan to keep for many years.


    Sunday, February 9, 2014 1:42 AM