Fixing Missing Thumbnails in Windows Vista Media Center

I just recently  put together a Media Center PC using Windows Vista, and so far, I have to say it’s pretty awesome!  I’m now able to record even my local high-def shows and stream them all over my house to a pair of XBox 360’s.  And on top of having a great UI, the guide is free, so I can ditch that TiVo subscription I’d been keeping around just to make sure I never missed an episode of 24 or Lost.

So far, I’ve only had one major problem, and that is that my pictures were not showing up in the picture gallery, and none of my videos in Recorded TV had thumbnails.  So I trolled the web and found out that this was likely caused by some rogue Nero software I installed a while back (I’ve since removed it, as it crashed nearly every time I tried to burn a CD.)  Read on to see how I fixed it.

Scott Hanselman has a great article about how the fix the picture gallery.  The big problem turns out to be a missing registry entry that tells Media Center that .jpeg or .jpg files are indeed image files.

Scott’s article didn’t say anything, however, about how to fix the missing thumbnails on Recorded TV.  It turns out fixing this was just a quick step beyond what Scott describes.  Recorded TV video files are stored with a .dvr-ms extension.  I checked the registry, and sure enough, there was no .dvr-ms key under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT.  So I created one, and added the PerceivedType string value under it, setting the value to “video”.  For good measure, I also set the default value to “MediaCenter.DVR-MS”, since that’s what the .DVR extension had.

Then, being the entrepreneurial developer that I am, I figured hey, maybe my laptop (which runs Windows Vista Ultimate) has this key properly filled out.  Lo and behold, it did!  And there was a lot more to it – two subkeys OpenWithProgIds, and ShellEx, which both help Windows Explorer determine how to act on these files.  So, I exported the .dvr-ms regkey and merged it over onto my Media Center box.  Violá!  I had thumbnails in my Recorded TV!

So, for those of you who don’t have another PC running Windows Vista Ultimate sitting around, here’s the reg file (right-click, save as…)  Rename the file to .reg, double-click on it, and accept the elevation (User Account Control) prompt as well as the prompt asking if you want to merge it into your registry.  Of course, being a careful and discriminating computer user, you might want to look at the file first (right-click->Edit) to make sure it’s still just a little .dvr-ms reg key, and the file I placed up hasn’t been pwned by some hacker out there 🙂

I can’t guarantee this will fix the issue for everyone, but given that it worked so well for me, I figured I had to share it with the rest of the world.


  1. Hey – thanks for posting this. It did the trick for me!
    /Henrik – Denmark


  2. Outstanding post! Not only did it work for Media Center, it concurrently fixed a bug with the Zune software that caused it to crash every time the Video tab was clicked! You need to propagate this fix, as it has been an issue on the Zune forums as well.

    Thanks so much! 🙂

    -Matthew, USA


  3. Great… after searching for this fix a long time this one certainly works for me! Thanks very much for posting this. Great!


  4. You are brilliant! Cheers Mate!


  5. Thanks. This worked like a charm. All my my Recorded TV thumbnails are now back. –Jason Pearce


  6. Thanks so very much, your little reg key file worked perfectly and things are now back to the way that God and Microsoft intended them to be.


  7. Worked like a charm, thanks alot mate!


  8. You’re a legend mate! Thanks heaps


  9. WOW! Thanks! Worked perfectly. Why can’t the folks at Windows (and by extension the Vista Media Center developers) ever put out a product that works properly? I hate to say it, but the Mac commercials are right: I wouldn’t even know where to start to contact someone at Windows regarding this and other similar daily encountered problems. Thanks a million for publishing this fix!


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