Windows 7 taskbar not showing thumbnail previews?

One of the nice features of Windows 7 is that the taskbar shows a handy thumbnail preview of a window or group of windows when you hover over it. So if you have multiple Internet Explorer tabs open, you can now preview all IE tabs instead of just text descriptions.

That’s really cool, but when I first installed Windows 7 on my computer, my thumbnail previews didn’t work. All I got were the text descriptions!

no preview of taskbar windows 7

That didn’t work! No thumbnail previews on the Windows 7 taskbar! After tinkering for a while and trying a bunch of different things, I finally got the thumbnails on my system! In this article, I will walk you through the different methods to solve this problem in Windows 7.

Update Windows Experience Index

After you have rated your computer and you have a score higher than 3, Aero will be enabled automatically. If it’s lower than 3, you either need to upgrade your video drivers or upgrade your video card.

You can get to the Windows Experience Index dialog box in Windows 7 by going to: Control panelclick on System and securityand then click Check the Windows Experience Index

Windows 7 experience index rating

On my copy, my rating was not yet established for WMI. Click on the Rate this computer or Refresh now button to get a score from 1 to 7.9.

windows 7 experience index

If it’s less than 3, you’re out of luck. Unfortunately, Windows 7 Aero requires a higher version of DirectX than previous versions of Windows. If you are using Windows 7 in a virtual environment such as VMWare, Virtual PC 2007 or VirtualBox, you cannot enable the Aero feature in Windows 7.

Aero Troubleshooter

I’ve heard there is a registry hack to enable Aero in Windows 7, but I don’t think it has worked for many people, so I won’t mention it here! You can also try running the Aero troubleshooter in Windows 7 to see if that fixes the problem.

To do this, click on Start and type in Solving a problem to open the Solve computer problems window. Here you will see an option called Show Aero Desktop Effects under Appearance and Personalization.

This checks the video card’s drivers, capabilities, memory, etc. to determine whether it can support the Aero effects or not. It will give you suggestions or try to solve the problem automatically.

Switch to Aero theme

Another issue that can occur is if a different base theme is selected for your system instead of an Aero theme. In this case, switching back to an Aero theme may work for you. Right click on the desktop and choose personalize

below Aero Themes, choose one from the list. Again, this only solves your problem if a basic or non-Aero theme was set by mistake.

Checking visual effects

Another setting you can check is the visual effects. Sometimes people disable visual effects to improve performance and that may be the reason why the Aero effects don’t work.

You can read my previous post on how to change performance options settings on Windows. In this case you want to choose: Adjust for the best look

Check Group Policy Settings

Finally, you can also check Group Policy settings if you are using Windows Pro or higher versions like Ultimate, etc. If the computer was previously joined to a domain, it may have retained some settings from the previous environment.

You can open Group Policy by clicking start and typing gpedit.msc† Now navigate to the next section:

User Configuration - Administrative Templates - Start Menu and Taskbar

Go ahead and click on the Institution header to sort and find all items Disable toolbar thumbnails† Make sure it is set to Not set

That’s about all the ways I could think of to solve this problem! If nothing worked, you probably need to upgrade your graphics card as it just doesn’t support these advanced effects. If you have any questions, feel free to comment. Enjoying!

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