Slow Loading Folders in Windows 8.1? Learn How to Fix It!

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Even You Can Fix Slow-Loading Folders

If you’re a Windows 8.1 power-user who works with many files and file types, you’ve probably encountered folders that are frustratingly slow to open. That is, you click the folder in File Explorer and are met with an empty pane as you watch that green indicator slowly creep across the top address bar. If you’re lucky, the process ends when the progress bar reaches the right side, but if you’re unlucky, it reaches the end and stays there for an undeterminable amount of time.

If you can’t fathom what this article describes, then count yourself fortunate, because countless users have experienced this problem, including this article’s author. It’s so bad at times, users have considered alternative file explorers, such as Free Commander, Explorer++ and Xplorer2. Although you might consider these programs to add otherwise lacking features to your Windows experience, slow-loading folders should not be the sole reason, because there’s a quick and simple solution.

The problem occurs because of how Windows optimizes folders. Yeah, optimize. Ironic, huh? If the system initially receives pictures, videos, audio files or documents in a folder, it automatically optimizes the folder for those file types. However, later filling the folder with other file types seemingly confuses Windows, forcing it to read the properties of each file to determine how to best optimize the folder. This potentially causes repetitive, lengthy delays that are especially compounded by large numbers of pictures and video files for which Windows attempts to create thumbnails.

Users commonly cite the Downloads folder when describing this slowing effect. Presumably, this folder frequently succumbs to the patience-pushing problem, because it is the default save location in most browsers. That means it collects numerous files of varying types and the delays lengthen as time moves on.

To correct the problem of slow-loading folders, you simply need to change the optimization settings for the folder, and once you mandate a category, Windows won’t again intervene, at least not for that folder. By optimizing the folder for general items, Windows no longer needs to reassess each file in the folder or subfolders. You won’t have thumbnails anymore, but neither will you have them if you can’t get the folder to open.

Fixing Folders

  • Right-click the folder and select Properties. Make certain you right-click the actual folder and not a shortcut from the Favorites list.

  • Click the Customize tab.

  • Select General Items from the “Optimize This Folder for” drop-down menu.

  • Click OK to apply your changes. Also note that Also Apply This Template to All Subfolders is checked by default, which as the name implies, changes all folders within the selected folder to the General Items category. If you only want to change the selected folder without altering subfolders, deselect this item before applying your changes.


  • Screenshots taken by author.