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Securely Disable Thumbnails For Files & Folders

By default, File Explorer displays thumbnail Images for files and (where applicable) folders In the Windows operating system. Essentially, this allows you to preview the file or folder, without actually having to double-click It. If you don't want your files & folders to be Identified by their content whilst viewing them, In this tutorial, I will show you how to securely disable thumbnails for all users with Incredible ease.

Before I make a start, here's what I'm referring to. When you view an Image file or a folder that contains a file (or another folder In It) without opening It, you can see Its thumbnail preview. When disabling thumbnails via the configuration that I will Introduce, you cannot view the thumbnail. To give you a visual, checkout the Image below.

The Thumbnail preview on the Images to the left, Is the default setting. The Images to the right, Is the result of disabling their thumbnails. So what's the purpose of this? Well, I'm glad you've asked! One of many reasons, Is that If you have multiple users sharing your PC, and do not want your sensitive files & folders Identified by simply viewing them, then this will come to very good use.

As such, I will demonstrate how to securely disable the thumbnail preview, by using the good old Group Policy Editor. Do note that the GPE Is only available In Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise and Education editions. If you're running either of these, then this tutorial Is for you. So without further ado, let's get this started.

Step One:

To access the Group Policy Editor, open the Run menu, enter gpedit.msc and hit OK as shown below.

Step Two:

The Group Policy Editor will now open, so navigate to the following directory.
User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer

Make sure the File Explorer folder Is selected, and on the right pane, double-click Turn off the display of thumbnails and only display icons.

Step Three:

To the left of the Window, click the Enabled radio button and then hit OK to finalize the process. The thumbnail preview on every file and folder has now been disabled. We'll check It out In the next couple of steps.

Step Four:

Here's my Windows 10 Tips folder, before the above configuration was applied. As you can see, the PDF thumbnail Is clearly visible.

Last Step:

As here's the result after applying the setting via the Group Policy Editor. As expected, the thumbnail preview has been securely disabled. Perfect result! Of course, this also applies to Image files.

Final Thoughts:

The good thing about disabling thumbnails via the Group Policy Editor, Is that not too many users are aware that the setting actually exists. Moreover, any attempt to enable It via other means within the Windows environment, will fail.

The only way to have the thumbnails back to their original state, Is to reverse the change by referring to Step Three above, and selecting the Not Configured radio button. Don't forget to hit OK.


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