Why does XP crash when I view thumbnails in open dialogs?
March 2, 2006 8:25 AM   Subscribe

WindowsXP Filter: I've noticed, on more than one machine, that XP has a tendency to crash when you view thumbnails in "open file" dialog boxes, especially, of course, if the folder you are viewing has a lot of image files in it. It is as if XP has to rebuild the thumbnails every time, rather than cacheing them. I've had this issue on more than one machine and using more than one application (most recently, Palm Desktop, while trying to add some photos to my wife's Palm). It seems an XP problem, not an app or machine problem.

Does anyone know of a workaround? Is there a way to pre-cache the thumbnails and keep XP from trying to create them while a dialog box is open (and, thus, crashing or getting hung there)? Is there something else at work that causes it to have trouble displaying these thumbnails?

My only other option is to not use thumbnails view in the open dialog box and flip back and forth between my image management program (Adobe Photoshop Elements), selecting each file by its file name. But that's a pain. Any thoughts?

Machine details: Dell 5160 laptop, Windows XP Pro, 512MB RAM, 3.2Ghz and Dell 5150 laptop, Windows XP Home, 384MB RAM, 3.06Ghz.
posted by wheat to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
It's never happened to me. My *guess* would be that you have some DLL associated with some file types, so that when windows wants to view an image, it loads that DLL rather then it's own internal one, which promptly crashes.

Did you install the workaround patch for that exploit a few months ago?

Might as well just reinstall. *shrug*
posted by delmoi at 8:33 AM on March 2, 2006

That's never happened to me either. A possible workaround: What if you went to View and changed from 'thumbnails' to 'list', which gives you a list of your images. Then go to 'Details' on the Picture Tasks menu on the left side, and click on the arrow to open it. Then when you single click on each file name in your list, you'll see the thumbnail there, under the Details section of your menu. Does XP crash when you do it that way?
posted by iconomy at 8:48 AM on March 2, 2006

It's never happened to to me also, but try this: in an open folder, go to Tools-> Folder Options -> View. In the Advanced settings box, make sure the "Do not cache thumbnails" box is not checked.

I think Windows saves a file called "Thumbs.db" for the thumbnail images. Maybe you are having some sort of file association problems with that?
posted by hooray at 8:55 AM on March 2, 2006

I've never had this issue across many XP installations on many machines.

I'd guess it's a result of some software you've had installed every time.
posted by cellphone at 9:48 AM on March 2, 2006

I always do this (multiple times a day, more than one program, two different computers) and it's never caused a crash, so I'll chime in with: it's probably a non-XP software problem.
posted by easternblot at 10:32 AM on March 2, 2006

Response by poster: What's odd is that it never happens on folders that have just a few images in them. But on folders with lots of images, it frequently happens.

And "crash" is maybe too strong a word. What happens is, the dialog becomes unresponsive (like it's still thinking--still trying to render all those thumbs). If you check the task manager, the app is still running. If you force quit, it tells you the app is waiting on a response from you, which it is. But the only real option is to force quit the app.

It doesn't bring down the whole OS. It seems limited to whatever code is associated with the generic open dialog box calls.
posted by wheat at 11:57 AM on March 2, 2006

It happened to me frequently and I just wanted to let you know you're not mad. It's like you're cruising through the 300 photos in the file marked Easter and at the point when you get to the end where that thumb-file is (and this particularly happens in filmstrip view I think) Crash! the system restarts.

So I went and asked my husband how he fixed it and he said he upgraded my system - new motherboard, ram, hard drive (something else). So there you go, you're not mad and you need to spend some money.
posted by b33j at 12:21 PM on March 2, 2006

You're not crazy. I used to have that problem, too (now I'm back to Mac thank gods). My sysadmin fixed me up by installing irfanview and associating all image file types with that app instead of with whatever the native app is. Worked like a charm.
posted by bricoleur at 3:13 PM on March 2, 2006

irfanview: it's free
posted by bricoleur at 3:14 PM on March 2, 2006

Thumbnail rendering is handled by shell extensions, which can be written by third-parties. It's possible that in the past you've installed some buggy software that has taken over the shell extension and is hanging or crashing. This is *much* more common with video than photos, though. If you ever installed some "super-duper codec pack" from the internet, it might include one of those buggy extensions.

I don't know your technical level of expertise with computers, but if you can install the free microsoft debugger you can use it to figure out which DLL is crashing the computer (by looking at the stack trace), and unregister it. I've done this many times. Old divx codecs, for example, are pretty bad about crashing thumbnail view.

If you are actually interested in debugging, let me know and I'll post a more detailed explanation. But simply installing a new program (like irfanview above) might be the easiest solution.
posted by helios at 4:59 PM on March 2, 2006

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