My Google Pixel 3 phone saves videos as mp4 files that have no thumbnails in Windows Explorer.

Windows Explorer screenshot

(This screenshot shows files on my PC that I'd moved via USB from the Pixel 3.)

Apparently many other Pixel 3 owners report this same annoying situation; the problem isn't specific to my device.

How can I make my Pixel 3 generate thumbnails properly?

  • What app have you used to create the videos? May be the files are simply defect or not in the expected MP4 format or using a codec that Windows does not understand. Try a tool like mediainfo of ffprobe to detect the actual file format and the used codecs.
    – Robert
    Jul 10, 2022 at 16:11
  • I just got the answer here: superuser.com/questions/1730808/…
    – Ryan
    Jul 10, 2022 at 17:00
  • Please do not cross post the same question on multiple Stackexchange sites.
    – Robert
    Jul 10, 2022 at 18:07

1 Answer 1


That videos don't show a thumbnail in Windows Explorer is because you look at the files via USB and Media Transfer Protocol (MTP).

If you would copy the video to a local hard disk Windows Explorer is capable of showing a thumbnail. But if the file is on a connected device that is accessed via MTP, thumbnails are disabled because of the disability of the MTP protocol:

The main difference between a local file and a file on an MTP device is that on a MTP device you can only read the complete file, not the first may be 100KB like it is possible on any local disk: MTP is a file oriented protocol instead of block oriented protocol as it is common for other file-systems.

That means if Windows Explorer wants to create thumbnails on it's own it has to completely download the whole file - and that for every file!

So why does thumbnail exists for pictures?

The MTP protocol bases on Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) which defines a command to receive pictures in a scaled quality. That makes it possible to request an image in a very low resolution which can be used as thumb nail. As the protocol is designed to transfer pictures it seems like Android does only implements scaled image retrieval for image files like JPEG.

  • I appreciate your answer, but I think it must be mistaken. (I've already moved these files from the Pixel 3 to my PC via USB.) I will update my answer to specify. Thanks.
    – Ryan
    Jul 10, 2022 at 13:52

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