For most media files like videos, photos, etc., and documents like PDFs, Windows tries to show you a preview of the file as a thumbnail instead of a generic icon. This helps you to quickly recognize the files without actually opening each and every file.
However, the downside of this approach is that your File Explorer may be slow to load all the thumbnails or may even freeze at times. Of course, this all depends on how many files are there in a given folder. In those situations you can do two things: rebuild the icon cache or increase the icon cache so that Windows can store more thumbnails without removing the old ones.
When you allow Windows to store more thumbnails by increasing the icon cache, the file-loading process in File Explorer will be much faster, and you can view all the file previews without waiting for the infamous green loading bar.
Note: I’m showing this in Windows 10; the procedure is the same for Windows 7 and 8.
Increase Icon Cache in Windows
By default, the icon cache size in Windows is 500KB. This is good enough if you don’t have a lot of media files and documents. When dealing with a lot of media files, you can easily increase the icon cache size with a simple registry edit. To start, search for
regedit in the Start menu and open it. If you are using the system as a standard user, then right-click on “Regedit” and select the option “Run as Administrator.”
After opening the Windows Registry Editor, navigate to the following location. If you are using Windows 10, then simply copy the below path, paste it in the address bar and press the Enter button.
Once you open the required key, you need to create a new String value. To do that, right-click on the right panel and select the “New” option and then “String Value.”
Name the new value as “Max Cached Icons” and press the enter button to save the changes.
Now, double-click on the newly-created value to set the value data. In the “Edit String” window, enter the cache size in KiloBytes. For instance, if you want the cache size to be 4MB, enter the value data as 4096 and click on the “OK” button. If you want the cache size to be 8MB, then enter 8192. However, don’t try to enter several MBs worth of cache size. In fact, after 8MB all you get is diminishing returns.
Once you are done editing, this is how it looks like in the registry editor.
Just close the Registry Editor and restart your system to make the changes take effect. You should now see that the File Explorer is loading fast with necessary file previews.
If you ever want to revert back, simply change the value data to 500 or delete the newly created value.
Do comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences about using the above to increase the icon cache in Windows.