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Resolve macOS File Icon Preview Glitches with 5 Instant Fixes

Discover quick solutions to address the problem of file icon thumbnails or previews not displaying on your Mac. When Finder shows generic icons instead of actual content, identifying images becomes a manual task, time-consuming for numerous files. Act swiftly with our guide to ensure your file icons and thumbnails show up as intended on your Mac.

FIX 1: Toggle Show Icon Preview

Begin by refreshing the Icon preview feature to potentially resolve the issue of missing file icon thumbnails. Follow these steps:

  1. Open Finder and navigate to View > Show View Options.
  2. Uncheck “Show Icon Preview.”
  3. After a brief pause, re-check “Show Icon Preview.”
  4. Examine if this corrects the problem of file icon thumbnails not displaying on your Mac.

Toggle Icon Preview to Resolve macOS File Icon Preview Glitches

FIX 2: Rebuild File Icon Cache

If the first fix didn’t work, try rebuilding the icon cache with these steps:

  1. Open Launchpad, go to Others, and launch Terminal.
  2. Enter the following command in the Terminal: sudo rm -rfv /Library/Caches/com.apple.iconservices.store
  3. Then, input the following command: sudo find /private/var/folders/ \( -name com.apple.dock.iconcache -or -name com.apple.iconservices \) -exec rm -rfv {} \; ; sleep 3;sudo touch /Applications/* ; killall Dock; killall Finder
  4. After executing the commands, boot into Safe Mode:
    • For Mac M1/M2 chipset: Power off your Mac, hold the power button until “Loading startup options” appears. Select your disk, press and hold Shift, click “Continue in Safe Mode.”
    • For Mac with Intel chipset: Restart your Mac, hold the Shift key until the login window appears. Log in, and it will boot into Safe Mode.
  5. Stay in Safe Mode for a few minutes, then restart your Mac to normal mode. The OS will rebuild all icons and file cache. Check if this resolves the issue.

FIX 3: Force Quit ThumbnailsAgent

If the issue persists, force quit ThumbnailsAgent with these steps:

  1. Launch Activity Monitor (View > All Processes).
  2. In the search, type: com.apple.quicklook.ThumbnailsAgent
  3. Hit Enter.
  4. Select it and click “Force Quit.”
  5. Click the Apple logo.
  6. Choose “Force Quit,” select Finder, and click “Relaunch.”
  7. Examine if this resolves the problem of file icon thumbnails not showing on your Mac.

FIX 4: Delete System Cache

To address the issue, delete the system cache using Terminal:

  1. Go to Launchpad > Others > Open Terminal.
  2. Enter the following four commands one after another:
    qlmanage -r cache
    qlmanage -r
    killall com.apple.quicklook.ThumbnailsAgent
    killall Dock
  3. Verify if this resolves the problem of file icon thumbnails not showing on your Mac.

FIX 5: Recreate Finder Plist File

To further troubleshoot, recreate the Finder Plist file:

  1. Open Finder and select Go > Go To Folder.
  2. Navigate to the following location: ~/Library/Preferences
  3. Back up the file: com.apple.finder.plist
  4. Then, delete it.
  5. Restart your Mac and observe the results.

These steps encompass various methods to resolve the issue of file icon thumbnails not displaying on your Mac. For any queries about these steps, drop a comment, and we’ll assist you promptly.

Alex Lim is a certified IT Technical Support Architect with over 15 years of experience in designing, implementing, and troubleshooting complex IT systems and networks. He has worked for leading IT companies, such as Microsoft, IBM, and Cisco, providing technical support and solutions to clients across various industries and sectors. Alex has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the National University of Singapore and a master’s degree in information security from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also the author of several best-selling books on IT technical support, such as The IT Technical Support Handbook and Troubleshooting IT Systems and Networks. Alex lives in Bandar, Johore, Malaysia with his wife and two chilrdren. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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