Thumbnail Previews on Taskbar

How to Turn Open Window Thumbnail Previews On or Off for the Taskbar in Vista
This will show you how to turn the Taskbar open window thumbnail previews on or off in Vista.
How to Turn Open Window Thumbnail Previews On or Off for the Taskbar in Vista

information   Information
This shows a thumbnail view of currently open windows on the taskbar when you move your mouse pointer over the tab of a open window on the taskbar. This will show you how to turn the Taskbar open window thumbnail previews on or off in Vista.

This is not available in the Vista Home Basic version even though the option is there to select.
Note   Note
This can be helpful for a quick view of the current open windows without actually having to go to a window.
warning   Warning
You must have the Windows Aero color scheme turned on for the Glass Transparency, Taskbar Thumbnail Previews, and Flip 3D features.

For more on this, see: Windows Help and Support: Troubleshoot problems with Windows Aero

NOTE: The Windows Aero color scheme is not available for the Vista Home Basic edition.
  • 1 GHz 32 bit or 64 bit CPU processor.
  • The computer needs at least 1 GB of RAM.
  • A graphics card with support for DirectX 9 graphics with 128 MB of memory.
  • The graphics card must support Pixel Shader 2.0 in hardware.
  • The graphics card driver must support Windows Vista Display Driver Model (WDDM)
  • The computer display color depth must be set to 32 bits per pixel.

EXAMPLE: Taskbar Open Window Thumbnail On and Off
Taskbar ON.jpg Taskbar OFF.jpg

Windows Aero Color Scheme

NOTE: The Windows Aero color scheme is not available for the Vista Home Basic edition. :(
1. To Have Thumbnail Previews on the Taskbar
A) Turn on the Windows Aero color scheme.​

Taskbar Properties

1. Right click on a empty area of the taskbar.​
2. Click on Properties.​
3. To Turn Off Thumbnail Previews
A) Uncheck Show window previews (thumbnails).​
(See screenshot below)​
B) Go to step 5.​

4. To Turn On Thumbnail Previews
A) Check Show window previews (thumbnails).​

5. Click on Apply and on OK.​
Taskbar properties.jpg

That's it,

Related Tutorials

Last edited by a moderator:
Shawn Brink


Ok... Does ANYONE have a tool for VISTA (not XP) that will give me preview thumbnails in my taskbar? For it does not seem to exist for Vista. And I searched A LOT, grmbl :/

In short, I cannot get the thumbnail previews to actual appear when I hoover over them with my mouse.

I got this laptop from a friend, Vista Home Basic. It turns out, it can't do sheit. So I started to look around.

I have the option to "Enable Thumbnail Preview", and it's on. Still, no previews of the active programs to see. and .

I've read on a page that Vista thumbnail preview not only depends on "Aero" (btw; I cannot select Aero, nor can I download it ANYWHERE but with TuneUp Utilities I installed a 3th party Windows 7 Theme that did support transparancy - I ought it to be enough Aero???) BUT the previews also depend on the Windows Experience Index. If the rating has the score of 1.0, it means that the computer do not support Aero. Aero will only run on system that has rating of 3.0 or above. Easy Way to Determine if A Vista System Supports Windows Aero Glass Effects
I cannot find the original page again, but I believe it mentioned a minimum score of 2.3 for thumbnail previews?? One would have to research further if this is important....

Now a strange threesome starts to unfold... The vista laptop did not have the hardware score index calculated. So I did, and I got 3.2. I rebooted the computer and my custom transparancy theme was gone. After re-enabling transparancy with "Aero", my WEI was unknown again. I thought this was because my Vista did not remember my score. Some researching brought me to the index-score-file. Playing with the file did not show anything interesting. The index score should be there, for it was stored in the file.

Then... It turns out that to enable thumbnail preview on Vista Home Basic, I have to enable Aero and I have to have an Index over 2.9. But enabling Aero disables the index score, and enabling the index score disables "aero" (aero==my downloaded windows 7 theme, applied with tuneup utilities, that has transparancy. I do not know if this is enough).

So again... Who knows a program, not for xp but for vista, that will give this vista home basic laptop it's thumbnail previews?? Thank you, for I lost over 10 hours researching all this, and I just wanna give my friend a need looking laptop back :/

Other interesting reading: Turn Vista into Windows 7 for free | CNET TV - CNET



Cuisvis hominis est errare, nullius nisi insipientis in errore persevare
All spelling mistakes are my own and may only be distributed under the GNU General Public License! - (© 95-1 by Coredump; 2-10 by DevNullius)

PS: some searches and other links for this problem...
enable taskbar thumbnail preview on vista basic -"windows 7" - Google zoeken
+vista +enable previews taskbar -"windows 7" ~utility - Google zoeken
How to Enable / Activate Aero Theme in Windows Vista Home Basic Edition? - Tweaking with Vishal
transform vista into windows-7 - Google zoeken
Last edited by a moderator:
Hello Devvie,

I'm sorry, but the taskbar thumbnail previews require the Aero feature to have them. Unfortunately, your Vista Home Basic edition does not include the Aero feature in it, so you will not be able to have taskbar thumbnails. :(