Pictures & Videos On Galaxy S3 Do Not Open, Icons Show They’re “Broken”

s3 photos videos broken

Just when you’re about to show your friends photos your took–using the Galaxy S3–during your vacation, the pictures won’t come up and their icons have some kind of a lightning bolt on them. In other words, they’re totally unavailable and you have no single clue as to what happened considering yesterday they were just fine.

Have you encountered this problem? Many of Samsung Galaxy S3 early adopters were. Unfortunately, this issue continues to bug owners even now. In fact, we did receive a lot of emails from our readers who exactly have this kind of problem. Here is one message we recently received:

“I have been having problems with the pictures that are on my phone. Many times I go into the albums and find that the pictures are not opening and become ruined for no apparent reason. I have attached what they start looking like and I can’t retrieve them anymore. I asked and I was told my S3 needs some kind of software but I thought I would ask you first before I let the phone stores do anything. It does this to my pictures and videos. Thanks.” 

The picture I’ve included at the start of this post was actually one of the pictures our reader attached with her message. If you’ve experienced this problem before, the picture may look familiar because you’ll be seeing the same icons for both photos and videos.

How did it happen?

Well, you have your external SD card to blame. There could be other factors causing this problem but, at least, 90% of the time this issue is caused by a malfunctioning storage device you use.

The pictures and their thumbnails are saved on an SD card. When it becomes unavailable, the icons on the Gallery would automatically change and this time the lightning bolt appears. If you’ve been researching the web about this problem, you would be able to find thousands of owners complaining about this same problem; yes, it’s that common.

What should I do?

Try to salvage data from your SD card. When the problem occurs, it means the storage device has been automatically un-mounted, although it’s still stuck in your phone. Now, here’s what you need to do:

#1. Reboot the Galaxy S3. This is to see if the device can read from the SD card again. If it can, then back everything up because you wouldn’t know when the problem strikes again. If the phone can’t read from it, turn it off and pop the back panel.

#2. Take the SD card out. Yes, take it out gently and let your laptop or computer read it. If it can be read just fine, make a backup of everything in it, otherwise, the computer would give you an option to reformat it. This time, it means that your SD card may have some problem and may need to be reformatted for it to work again.

#3. Put it back in. Assuming your computer can read your card and you’ve already made a backup of everything, try to put it back into your phone without reformatting it and see if it would work this time. Otherwise, you would really have to clear everything up and try again.

Solving the issue with the SD card would definitely solve the problem with photos and videos that won’t load. However, if all these sound like a hassle to you, you might want to employ the services of a technician.

Having problems with your phone?

Tell us about them by emailing us at mailbag@thedroidguy.com. Make sure to include as much details as possible so that we could understand the problem well and find the best solutions for you. If you can share a screenshot or two, that would be better.

We may not be able to respond to every email we receive but rest assured we do read them… yes, all of them even if some do look like spams.


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  1. My phone started doing this a few months back and it only seemed to be the oldest pictures taken and / or downloaded. So I figured that I was taking up too much space with pictures and jamming up my storage. Seeing as how I have over 1,700 pictures that I’ve taken plus the downloads and everything else too.. So I checked my storage space left and I still had like 4 gigs of memory. I didn’t think this was the issue seeing as how I got the 16 gig model of my Galaxy s4 but it didn’t hurt to look. I’ve done everything possible yet still nothing works and I’m still stuck wit black blank pics and stuff. Awesome!

  2. I just came from holiday and this exact problem happened! I am understandably pretty upset but before I try the above I will be taking the card to a pro! fingers all crossed!

  3. Is there any way to DELETE the icon with the lightning bolt from my gallery? I have never had this show up before until I tried to save some pictures I had sent to my gmail account. I tried saving the photos from my gmail account and the photo AND the grey icon with the lightning bolt showed up. Weird. I was able to delete the photos from my gallery, but now I would like to get rid of the grey icon. Do you know if there’s any way to do that? THANK YOU!

  4. I have this same problem but my laptop cant read the broken files either and it doesn’t give me the option to reformat anything…so now what?
    Every couple photos does this but some are fine. It’s very random

  5. Now I will say this, I’ve had that issue a couple months ago, but it was more of a micro Sd issue particularly the SanDisk 32g version which wasn’t built up to par then later models, I received a free replacement & now its working flawlessly, I still kinda do have a lil. issue when downloading pics from the web which is 1 in ever 1000, but an easy fix

  6. IS there anything that could be done to restore the media back or anyway of fixin the broken media files?

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