How to Fix a Slow-Opening Windows Downloads Folder

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When you're browsing through your hard drive in File Explorer (aka Windows Explorer), most folders open quickly. However, the Downloads folder, which is one of the most frequent and important places on your computer, often takes 10 seconds or longer to fully load. While you watch in frustration, a status bar in Explorer slowly fills itself for no apparent reason, even if you have a fast computer with a speedy SSD.


The slow-loading Downloads folder problem occurs because, by default, Windows is trying to create thumbnails for photos and videos in the folder, even if none of the files are pictures. With a quick settings change, you can make the Downloads folder open quickly in Windows 7, 8 or 10. Here's how. 

MORE: Out of the Box Tips: Set Up Your New Laptop Like a Pro

1. Open File Explorer. You can get there by hitting Windows Key + E or clicking on the explorer icon in your taskbar.

2. Right click on the Downloads shortcut in the right window pane and select Properties.

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3. Navigate to the Customize tab.


4. Select "General items" from the "Optimize this folder for:" list.

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5. Click Ok.

Author Bio
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on
Add a comment
  • Natem Says:

    Thank you, my laptop has done it for a year and never really cared, but when my gaming PC started doing it, I had to fix.

  • Kane123 Says:

    You're a life saver! hated waiting for it to load when using 3rd party apps

  • Nicolas Pilet Says:

    Many thanks. I have been annoyed since months and your trick did the job!

  • Tommy Says:

    Worked perfectly, Thanks :)
    The issue for myself wasn't the Downloads folder itself but a subfolder but this Customise trick done it for me

  • Ledfoot Says:

    It worked a treat ! thankyou so much :)

  • Tommy Justice Says:

    Did nothing to solve my problem. Every single folder regardless if is a folder created by me or a windows folder or even any folder in any of my other 3 hard drive it will load the content in this folder Pics video ect painfully slow. I have a very powerful machine with SSD, 4.6 Intel 6 core and a Geforce GTX 1080 and this thing load the content in any folder really slow. Never had happen before it just mysteriously started happening, this is definitely a windows problem not a components problem.

    Any other solution for this problem?

  • Chris Z Says:

    This problem has plagued me for so many years and it was difficult to search for the right terms to find the solution. Every single folder created in the downloads folder over the years contributed to making it a little slower to open the next new one. I have a very fast machine that was taking 30 seconds to open a new folder. Now it is instant once again. Thank you.

  • iranano Says:

    did not solve the problem when I click "open folder" after a download completes in browser

  • Lifesaver Says:

    this has annoyed me for far too long...

  • Adam Yan Says:

    Very useful ! Thanks very much !

  • Yuvaganesh Says:

    Superb trick. Worked for me. Thanks

  • Manuk Says:

    Awesome tweek!, thnx for sharing.

  • Well Wisher Says:

    Thanks, that was awesome tweak.

  • Aldo Oliva Says:

    It worked perfectly. Thanks for sharing.

  • Clarence Cariote Says:

    Thanks for the tip mate.
    Still confused about why Microsoft would set the 'Downloads' folder as a folder for pictures on my desktop.

  • Entraigues Says:

    Thanks for the tip. Took 5 seconds and works perfectly.

  • Loloy D Says:

    Thank you. This has been an annoyance in Windows 10 for quite some time. And I work with 2 Win 10 desktops and 1 Win 10 laptop. I would like to add that this is a bad default design by Microsoft - having the Downloads folder customized for Videos. I do not understand the rationale behind that design decision. All my machines are legal Pro editions. If I had a Home edition, I would understand that but still would not find it sensible.

  • shirley Says:

    wow it actually works!
    thankk you sooo muchhh!

  • Gokul Gopinath Says:

    Brilliant fix! Downloads folder loads up quick like a charm now. Thanks a lot Avram

  • Tùng Nguyễn Says:

    Thanks bro, got headache with it for decades. I used to think it's normal or my hdd gets wore until getting a new ssd.

  • Adhesives Says:

    Wow quick and easy amazing tip.. keep er up.

  • KenKenKen Says:

    My folder doesn't have customize.

  • Carter Says:

    GENIUS! Many thanks. Fixed a problem I've dealt with for months!

  • Pankaj Says:

    Thanks man.Now the folder is opening faster ...

  • william Says:

    awesome dude. Thank for sharing

  • Timothy Says:

    Thank You for the help!Before i needed to wait 15-20secs before accessing downloads.Now its just a blink of an eye

  • my-name-has-less-than-5-characters Says:

    Went from 3-minute load time to less than a second. It was taking so long to load that I got tired of waiting, opened my browser, found this page, and read the instructions before my Downloads folder finished loading. Thanks for the tip. TO MICROSOFT: We are your customers! The Windows bloat is getting WORSE, not better. Why am I beta testing a supposedly finished product?

  • Abhisek Says:

    Wow Great.... Thanks a Lot..............

  • Johnson Says:

    Thanks a lot. It solved one of my annoying problems.

  • Indunil Chamara Illangasinghe Says:

    Thank you so much for your explanation. This was a so annoying problem to me. Thank you again!

  • Jishnu Medhi Says:

    Wow that was a quick fix (I am on Windows 10) - I had never searched for it since I assumed it would involve moving all the files to a different folder and possibly regedit. But this reduced my time from 10-15 seconds to 0.

  • RodRick Says:

    Worked like a charm. Thank you :)

  • mineonly Says:

    Thanks for the tip! Really works!

  • PeppaMint Says:

    This had been annoying me for a while now. Thanks for the tip, worked like a charm!

  • Donald Newlands Says:

    This tip did not help. My downloads folder is already customized as "general items" and it still takes 10-20 seconds to open the folder on Windows 7.

  • Ronaldo Marcucci Says:

    Thank you very much! This tip worked properly with my Windows 10.

  • Pippymint Says:

    Thank you thank you! This took me from 20 seconds to open to instant opening. Thanks again!

  • David Sutherland Says:

    I had over 1,200 files and this didn't solve the issue on Windows 10. Why does windows suck so much?

  • redlaten Says:

    Awesome tip!! I thought it was an indexing problem and tried to re-index with no effect. This did the trick, thanks for posting!

  • navedkhan Says:

    it working good in my laptop thanq so much for this article

  • chris Says:

    What about when this doesn't work? I tried this initially and for the first few times it worked, but my downloads folder still takes forever to open. I've verified that these settings are correct, it's still set to general items.

  • subhash Says:

    pin the downloads folder to start.Open it from start,it will open faster. Or try open from C:\Users\(userName)\Downloads which opens the folder directly rather than linking each and other shortcuts which makes loading slow..

  • Robert Says:

    I'm not sure this fixes the problem. My Downloads folder has not always taken so long to open, but recently it has. When I searched online for this problem, I came across your tip and thought I would try it. But when I checked the properties of my Downloads folder, it was already optimized for general items.

  • karenina Says:

    proven effective on windows 10. thanks for this.

  • johndiggins Says:

    I think I figured out how to make this fix permanent.
    Create a new folder on your desktop.
    Drag all of the files in your "Download" folder to the new folder on your desktop.
    Then delete the "Downloads" folder.
    Then rename the folder on your desktop "Downloads".
    Then drag and drop the new "Downloads" folder to where the old "downloads" folder was.
    Thats it. Your Done. The new "downloads" folder shouldn't have any presets as to whats in the folder, or whats being downloaded into the folder.

  • johndiggins Says:

    This worked but the folder will revert back to "pictures" when i download something else. Any idea how to make this fix permanent?

  • Thanks Says:

    Worked perfectly for me! (Windows 10)

  • wlexxx Says:

    i have win 7 professional
    there is no "customize" tab
    i see the others shown..


  • _KDB_ Says:

    Thanks, this worked for me on windows 10.
    My dl folder was working fine but once I downloaded alot of pics I guess my machine automatically optimized to be used for pictures and not general files.

  • ahnnnnn Says:

    does nothing at all.
    how can so many people from all over the world be posting this same useless "fix"?

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