How to Fix a Very Slow Windows 7 Downloads Folder

Do you ever find that the user Downloads folder in Windows 7 seems to respond very slowly? Here is a quick fix for the problem.

You may think that one folder is the same as any other folder but Windows doesn’t see it that way. Windows classifies folders according to the types of files that it thinks will be stored there. According to this post, Windows 7 will often decide that the user Downloads folder is for pictures. It then tries to create thumbnails for all the files in the Downloads folder. If some of the files are really not pictures, this causes the Downloads folder to be slow to open. To fix this this problem, tell Windows that Downloads is for general purposes. Here is the procedure:


  1. Open the Start menu
  2. Click the user account name in the upper part of the right pane
  3. In the Explorer window that opens, right-click the Downloads folder
  4. Select “Properties”
  5. Select the tab “Customize”
  6. Under “Optimize this folder for:” open the drop-down menu, as shown in the figure below
  7. Choose “General items”
  8. Click “OK” (Button not shown in the figure)
  9. Close the Properties dialog

Downloads properties

Note that this procedure can be applied to other folders as well. If you have a folder with some pictures mixed in with other types of file, Windows may sometimes decide to treat the folder as a pictures folder and cause it to open slowly. Then you should customize the folder for general items.

Of course, Windows being Windows, there may be a little glitch now and then. Sometimes, Windows will forget which way you designated a folder. So you have to do it over again.


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