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[FIX] Black Background PNG in File Explorer on Windows 10

Images that have transparency are easy to spot when you browse them in File Explorer. The transparent parts appear as such in File Explorer when you look at the file’s thumbnails. This holds for SVGs, PNGs, and ICNs. If you’re looking at a file type with transparency, and it appears black where you should just be able to see the File Explorer background, you can try a couple of things to fix it.

PNG black background in File Explorer [FIX]

Before you try the fixes below, make sure you’re not mistaking a black background with the dark theme for File Explorer. To check this, switch to the light theme momentarily.

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to the Personalization group of settings.
  3. Select the Colors tab.
  4. Open the Choose your color dropdown and select Light.
  5. View the file’s thumbnail in File Explorer. If the background is still black, proceed with the fixes below.

1. Check for transparency

A PNG file, or an ICN or SVG one may not have transparency. It might in fact have no transparency to it. Checking it is simple enough.

  1. Download and install any app that supports viewing transparency. Try GIMP or IrfanView.
  2. Open the file in the app and check if it shows transparent areas.
  3. If it doesn’t, you do not in fact have a transparent file and the background is showing up as it should. If the background is indeed transparent, try one of the fixes.

2. Restart File Explorer

This might just be a File Explorer fluke. Restart the app and see if the problem goes away.

  1. Right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager from the context menu.
  2. On the Processes tab, select Windows Explorer.
  3. Click the Restart button at the bottom right.
  4. When the desktop returns back to normal, view the file in File Explorer to see if transparency is visible.

3. Clear thumbnail cache

The transparency might be a problem with the thumbnail cache. Deleting it and forcing Windows 10 to build a new one can help.

  1. Open File Explorer to This PC.
  2. Right-click the C drive, or whichever is your Windows drive.
  3. From the context menu, select Properties.
  4. On the General tab, click Disk Cleanup.
  5. Make sure Thumbnails is selected, and click OK.

4. Rename folder or move file

This might be a problem with a folder. Again, this could be a fluke. Try renaming the folder the file is in.

  1. Select the folder, and right-click it.
  2. Select the rename option from the context menu.
  3. Enter a new name and tap Enter.

5. Save the file again

It is possible that information wasn’t written correctly to the file’s header. It has retained its transparency but File Explorer is unable to show it because of errors in the header. To fix it, follow the steps below.

  1. Open the file in GIMP. You can use other apps but GIMP is free and does the job well.
  2. Right-click the layer and select ‘Add alpha channel‘.
  3. Go to File>Export.
  4. Save the file as a PNG/SVG/ICN or whatever type it was.
  5. View the file again to see if the transparency is now visible on the thumbnail.

6. Remove shell extensions

It is possible that a shell extension for File Explorer is causing the problem. If you’ve recently installed one, you should remove it.

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Go to Programs>Uninstall a Program.
  3. Select the extension from the list of installed apps.
  4. Click the Uninstall button.
  5. Once uninstalled, restart File Explorer.
  6. Right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager.
  7. On the Processes tab, look for Windows Explorer.
  8. Select it, and click the Restart button.

7. Change view type

Changing the view type might trigger the transparency to appear.

  1. Open the folder that the file is in.
  2. Go to the View tab.
  3. Select Details and then switch back to one of the large icon views.

8. Check for updates

An update might have broken things. Check your update history and if a recent update has been installed, check if it’s causing problems. You can Google its name and something will show up. Even if it doesn’t, you can try removing the most recent update.

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Go to Programs>Uninstall a program.
  3. Select View Installed updates from the column on the left.
  4. Select the most recent update, and select Uninstall.
  5. Restart your PC.

Conclusion

This is a niche bug but it seems quite a few users have it. No one has been able to identify an exact cause behind it but it has existed for a few years now. It doesn’t seem to be big enough to have gotten Microsoft’s attention but people continue to have it, and post about it in help forums. These fixes are a collection of what has worked for lots of users so hopefully, there is something here that works for you as well. Some users also recommend running an sfc /scannow. If the problem is caused by errors/problems with the disk, the command could fix it.

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