Configuring the media preview in Windows Explorer

Microsoft has extended the ability of the Explorer to also act as a picture viewer, music player and media player. These user friendly media shell extensions can be nice if NOT using the Classic desktop, but they also introduce some side effects (Even if using Classic desktop):

  • Uses longer time to show the contents of a folder because it extracts the details of all media files within the folder (Ex. if having a folder with MP3 files).
  • The scanning of files causes the files to be locked by the Explorer, and so when trying to delete the file one will get an error:

    Cannot delete/move <filename>: It is being used by another process or program. Close any programs that might be using the file and try again

  • The scanning of files causes high CPU usage, if having a “faulty” file. (F.ex. a large AVI/MPG/MPEG file where the index is broken will make Windows Explorer to scan the entire file).

One can Disable the preview/thumbnails-view entirely (Thumbs.db)

One can disable the extraction of media file properties entirely (WinXP+):

regsvr32 /u shmedia.dll

One can disable the extraction of media file properties for certain files (WinXP+):

[HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT \SystemFileAssociations \.avi \shellex \PropertyHandler]
(Default) = (Value not set)

Note to disable select the (Default)-value and press Delete-key, and it will change to “(Value not set)”.
To disable preview for other file-types just exchange the .avi with the wanted filetype and delete the (Default) for the wanted file-type.

More Info MS KB822430

Note if one likes the shell extensions, but just having problems deleting a file then try one of these:

  • Download and install Unlocker, which can close the handles created to the file, so one is not blocked from deleting it
  • Rename the file so it no longer has the extension of a media file
  • Momentarily unregister shmedia.dll (Media File Property Extractor Shell Extension) to delete the file (WinXP+):

    regsvr32 /u shmedia.dll
    (delete the file)
    regsvr32 shmedia.dll

  • Close all explorer.exe and use the command-prompt.
  • Boot in safemode and delete the file, as the preview feature is disabled.

Related Configure compressed folders in Windows Explorer
Related Change Webview for all folders to stop movie preview