25 October 2012

PDF Icon - No Preview

NOTE: If you like PDF thumbnails, DO NOT install Acrobat Reader DC! See note at the end…

Okay, this one is VEEEERY annoying.

You have the 64-bit flavor of Windows 7 or Windows 8. You install Adobe Acrobat Reader.

You expect that on your desktop and in Explorer, you will see a thumbnail preview image of the first page of each PDF document.

Instead, you get nothing. NOSSING!

So, you search Google, and you find a bunch of tricks, fixes, and paid software that doesn’t work.

Well, after trying a million things, here’s what worked for me in both 64-bit Windows 7 and Windows 8…

There are actually 2 issues here to pay attention to:

  1. Indexing the contents of PDF files so that they are searchable by Windows Search
  2. Displaying the first-page thumbnail preview on all PDF files

For #1, there is always the classic option of installing the Adobe PDF iFilter 11.0.01 for 64-bit Platforms. In Windows 7 x64, this was necessary in order to be able to search the contents of PDF files. In Windows 8, however, I found that installing it made absolutely no difference for either the indexing or the thumbnail problem.

Instead, the indexing problems seems to have magically resolved itself by upgrading to the recently released Acrobat Reader XI. After installing the latest Acrobat Reader, it seems the contents of all my PDF files are now indexed, and therefore searchable. About time!

As for the thumbnail previews, they still didn’t work after upgrading to Reader XI. I saw this:

It seems that the problem is that Adobe simply doesn’t care about PDF thumbnails on 64-bit machines. Even installing Acrobat X Pro didn’t give me proper PDF thumbnails. I don’t have Acrobat Pro XI, so I can’t tell you anything about that one.

In any case, you will find many solutions to this thumbnail problem, but this is the one that works: Adobe Reader x64 Fixes v3

If that link doesn’t work, try this one: Adobe Reader x64 Fixes v3

You can also check out the web page where I found this PDF thumbnail fix.

This little program is very simple to install: you just run it, and let it do its thing. It actually fixes both Preview Pane viewing of PDFs, and thumbnail generation. It just makes it so that 64-bit Windows can use the 32-bit thumbnail generation included in Acrobat Reader. It’s simple, and it works. Now, I see this:

WOOHOO!

Note that on the web page linked above, this fix is rather old. It was originally designed for Vista x64. I have tried it on Windows 7 x64 and Windows 8 x64, and it works like a charm on both.

Of course, this raises a rather burning question: What the hell is wrong with Adobe that even after all these years, and with all these 64-bit Windows installs out there, they still haven’t fixed the thumbnail problem?!

I guess they are just too busy releasing incremental improvements to their Creative Suite software, and charging an arm and a leg for each “major” new release. SIGH! Oh well…

One final note: While Windows 8 does have a built-in PDF viewer, it is very basic. In addition, Microsoft’s very own built-in PDF viewer apparently is not capable of generating PDF thumbnails. Nice one, M$.

So, install the latest Acrobat Reader XI, install the fix above, and rock and roll!

UPDATE: I just installed Acrobat Reader DC. No new PDFs have thumbnail previews. Then I found this on Adobe’s help site:

We had to remove the thumbnail preview functionality from Acrobat and Reader DC for technical reasons. We know there are users who value it but certain design considerations forced us to make this change.

In short, if you want PDF thumbnail previews, do NOT upgrade to Reader DC, because it removes thumbnails entirely… 🙁

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Fix Acrobat PDF Thumbnails in Windows 7 / Windows 8 x64
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146 thoughts on “Fix Acrobat PDF Thumbnails in Windows 7 / Windows 8 x64

  • 13 May 2015 at 16:34
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    If you’ve already installed DC, then the Adobe forum thread you reference has a work around for the thumbnail issue. It requires installing other (free) PDF software though.

    They recommended installing “Foxit Reader,” and setting that as the default program, which then results in thumbnails showing on all PDF files. You can then set Adobe Reader DC as the default again, but the thumbnails remain.

    https://forums.adobe.com/thread/1812515
    http://www.foxitsoftware.com/downloads/

    Reply
    • 13 May 2015 at 19:02
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      I really didn’t like Foxit, but it might be worth using it just for the thumbnails. Personally, I didn’t find anything worthwhile in DC to keep it.

      Reply
  • 19 May 2015 at 16:04
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    You sir are my latest hero. WOOHOO! says it all. This has been a bane since I got this machine. Well done.

    Reply
  • 24 May 2015 at 14:19
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    I think… is possible to “extract” Foxit method for thumbs… to extract only this… and to avoid Foxit installation.

    Reply
  • 1 July 2015 at 12:13
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    Hi Dear,
    Thanks for your solution to the pdf thumbnail issue. I got fix with 64-bit

    Reply
  • 1 July 2015 at 15:05
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    It was not his solution, he merely summarized someone else’s solution and pointed you to the script that the guy who figured it out wrote. And though it is helpful it is not a complete solution as it does not help produce thumbnails on shortcuts to PDF files, only to PD?f files themselves.

    Reply
    • 1 July 2015 at 16:20
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      I’m on Win 7, and with this solution, my PDF files and shortcuts to PDFs have thumbnails…

      Reply
  • 4 July 2015 at 17:20
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    @Reader
    Thank you!!!!

    I uninstalled DC and the thumbnail previews work again.

    Reply
  • 9 July 2015 at 02:03
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    I was just on chat with Adoabe about the DC version (which I don’t like at all). They say “It’s an OS problem”. I read everything you said but I missed the last part. I wish I would have tried it to see if it would have worked for the preview in thumbnails. I have already uninstalled the DC and found an older version. I only hope that they will refund my money for the DC version. 🙁 Very Sad. I love Adobe but that new version looked awful…Thank you for your comments…

    Reply
  • 19 July 2015 at 17:29
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    I have Windows 8.1 and Acrobat Reader DC and I have this thumbnails problem but strangely some of them show up. I haven’t read your tricks above yet, just wanted to say DC doesn’t solve it.

    Reply
    • 19 July 2015 at 20:28
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      According to Adobe, thumbnails shouldn’t work at all in DC.

      Reply
  • 20 July 2015 at 09:40
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    Hi Guys, this may be useful. I tracked down which reg keys are used fr different handlers. Simply change the appropriate reg key for Foxit to take over specific handler duties

    —————————————————————————–
    Thumbnail Handler
    HKLM\Software\Classes\.pdf\ShellEx\{E357FCCD-A995-4576-B01F-234630154E96}
    —————————————————————————–
    {FFBD7029-84D7-4E1E-BE44-B6619BC545ED} = Foxit PDF Thumbnail Handler
    {21F5E992-636E-48DC-9C47-5B05DEF82372} = Foxit PDF Info/Extractor
    {F9DB5320-233E-11D1-9F84-707F02C10627} = Adobe Image Handler

    —————————————————————————–
    Shell Extension Thumbnail Handler
    HKLM\Software\Classes\.pdf\ShellEx\{BB2E617C-0920-11d1-9A0B-00C04FC2D6C1}
    —————————————————————————–
    {F9DB5320-233E-11D1-9F84-707F02C10627} = Adobe Image Handler
    {21F5E992-636E-48DC-9C47-5B05DEF82372} = Foxit PDF Info/Extractor
    —————————————————————————–
    Preview Handler
    HKLM\Software\Classes\.pdf\ShellEx\{8895b1c6-b41f-4c1c-a562-0d564250836f}
    —————————————————————————–
    {DC6EFB56-9CFA-464D-8880-44885D7DC193} = Adobe PDF Preview Handler for Vista
    {1B96FAD8-1C10-416E-8027-6EFF94045F6F} = Foxit PDF Preview Handler

    Reply
  • 28 August 2015 at 12:05
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    @Scottie
    Hi, I have Windows 8.1 in the 64-bit flavor. With your fix now I have PDF thumbnails on my desktop and Explorer. I use Total Commander 8.x too, and only see files icons instead of the thumbnail view. Do anyone of you know how to make pdf thumbnails work properly in Total Commander 8.x? Thanks

    Reply
  • 11 September 2015 at 14:24
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    @Reader
    This procedure works… even in windows 10. You just have to install Foxit Reader then set it as default reader (make sure it’s set as default by opening a PDF file or just looking at the file’s icon), the eBook cover image or thumbnail will show… go back and set Adobe Reader or Acrobat Reader DC (whichever version you’re using) as the default reader and the thumbnail will be stuck. Thanks “Reader”… I’ve been struggling with this thumbnail issue for weeks.

    Reply
    • 11 September 2015 at 15:12
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      I’m gonna try this, because in Win 10, my PDF thumbnails are only working sometimes. Thanks!

      Reply
  • 16 September 2015 at 07:55
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    Thank god for this fix/work-around. I cannot believe adobe is so stupid on this issue. For god’s sake, who the hell makes a program and courts a format and doesn’t make it generate thumbnails. SERIOUSLY?!?! FIX THIS CRAP ADOBE!

    Reply
  • 10 October 2015 at 10:01
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    It was amazing to see my PDFs thumbnails displayed inside my windows again thx a lot

    Reply
  • 4 November 2015 at 01:00
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    Thank God PDF thumbnails are displaying again, have to install Foxit Reader, uninstalled the Acrobat Reader DC.

    Reply
  • 10 December 2015 at 14:25
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    Hello.
    I can confirm that the installation of a PDF reader restores the thumbsnails while leaving Acrobat as default. I used Sumatra PDF – free – that, in particular, in its installation provides the preview. Happy for that. I like to share it.

    Reply
  • 1 January 2016 at 22:04
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    I am trying to find another reader
    I dont want adobe anymore
    I used to save based on thumbnails now I am in a mess

    Reply
    • 1 January 2016 at 22:28
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      Well, I’m never happy with any PDF reader, but Foxit is quite good, and free. Several people have also recommended Sumatra to me, which also reads ePub, MOBI, CHM, XPS, DjVu, CBZ, and CBR files.

      Reply
  • 18 February 2016 at 14:53
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    Sorry this didn´t work for me.
    I have tried install a few times witout any luck it still shows pdf logo.
    Im on windows 7 X64 and adobe XI.

    Reply
  • 19 February 2016 at 17:50
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    Wow !
    Let me kiss your hand, because it worked.
    Thanx my bro.

    Reply
  • 22 February 2016 at 16:21
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    Are there any fix for the EPS format as well 🙂
    I can now view PDF but not EPS format.

    Reply
  • 10 August 2016 at 03:16
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    I have Windows 10 with the latest version of Acrobat Reader. And in Preprences>General there is an option to tick on “Enable PDF thumbnail in Explorer.” Which works perfectly and displays correctly all the PDF preview icons.

    Reply
    • 10 August 2016 at 10:40
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      :O Apparently, Adobe changed their minds. Works for me, too. Thanks!!!

      Reply
  • 23 October 2016 at 07:56
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    Thanks a million! “Adobe Reader x64 Fixes v3” did the job for me. Awesome!

    Reply
  • 30 June 2017 at 23:29
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    I’ve spent hours trying to solve this problem on a new machine installed with windows 10 64.
    tried everything without results. On your suggestion I uninstalled Acrobat Reader DC and that solved the problem.
    I’m very grateful.
    Thanks

    Reply

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