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

  • 17 May 2014 at 06:28
    Permalink

    The first Adobe Reader x64 Fixes v3 worked fine – thank you!

    IS THERE ONE for Pro 7.0 on Win 7?

    Appreciate the help, Kenton

    P.S. Asked GeekSquad but they wanted to CHARGE EXTRA by connecting remotely and change my SETTINGS. Hung up and found this article. 90% of the time, I have to find the answer myself through trial and error or forums.

    Reply
    • 17 May 2014 at 12:34
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      For Pro 7, I’m not sure… It’s been awhile, but I seem to remember thumbnails won’t work for Pro 7 on x64. I remember struggling with it on 1 machine quite a while ago, and never getting it to work.

      Reply
  • 17 May 2014 at 16:06
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    Thanks. My Win 7 is an old ME machine, erased and Win 7 added – would it be 64- or 32-bit?

    I read there’s a way to open WinEx in 32 bit as Drive_Letter:\windows\syswow64\explorer.exe /separate – make any sense?

    Reply
    • 17 May 2014 at 18:26
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      Win ME! :-O The processor will be 64-bit to some extent or another, but that depends on the processor. The OS is also either 32-bit or 64-bit. You find that out easily enough by right-clicking on Computer/My Computer and selecting Properties. Under “System”, it will say “System type: 64-bit Operating System” – or not.

      Not sure about the WinEx thing you mentioned… I’m not even sure what that is.

      Reply
  • 17 May 2014 at 18:59
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    WinEx – guess that’s my just-coined abbreviation for Windows Explorer – probably WinExp would be better.

    Tried the My Computer before – no system properties, so just found under Systems properties – looks like a 32-bit OS (processor is an Intel Centrino Duo on a Fujitsu Lifebook T4210), as one would imagine, so if the PDF icons aren’t turning into thumbnails, then probably won’t.

    Good dialog – thanks.

    Reply
  • 5 June 2014 at 21:06
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    Worked! You da man! Thanks

    Reply
  • 16 June 2014 at 09:01
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    It work for Windows 8 64 bit. thanks

    Reply
  • 3 July 2014 at 05:15
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    excellent, it works. thanks a ton.

    Reply
  • 7 July 2014 at 02:17
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    Does it work for Windows 8.1 ?

    Reply
  • 14 July 2014 at 04:11
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    Yes, the “fix” to enable the display of thumbnail previews of PDF files in Window Explorer on 64 bit versions of Winds provided by Pretentiousname.com is very helpful but it is not a complete solution. It does not solve the problem of missing thumbnail previews on shortcuts to PDF files in Windows Explorer. For that you have to open each folder from within Acrobat to generate the thumbnail so that it can then subsequently be seen in Windows Explorer. So it is still broken despite over a decade of 64 bit windows being widely used and Adobe never bothering to address this issue.

    Reply
  • 20 July 2014 at 22:51
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    Works on my new windows 8.1 machine. Thanks very much

    Reply
  • 21 July 2014 at 11:59
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    I doubt it. Perhaps PDF files show thumbnails in windows Explorer on your Windiw 8 machine but I doubt that shortcuts to PD.f fils show thumbnails unless you happen to have previously viewed that folder from Acrobat reader. Adobe sucks.

    Reply
  • 24 July 2014 at 22:32
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    I install the fixer bu it does not works on my new windows 8.1 machine. I have last version of Adobe readerX. I still see no PDF thumbnails in windows Explorer. Why?

    Reply
  • 25 July 2014 at 00:06
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    Thanks your fixer is great and work on my windows 8.1 now.I followed this steps after installed your fixer:
    First, open Windows Explorer and then click on Options and Change folder and search options.
    Next, click on the View tab and uncheck the box that says Always show icons, never thumbnails.
    Once you get rid of that checked option, you should now get thumbnails for all your pictures, videos and even documents.
    There is one other place that you can adjust the setting for showing icons or thumbnails in Windows Explorer. First right-click on Computer on the desktop and choose Properties. Then click on Advanced System Settings on the left side.
    This will open up the System Properties dialog. Here you need to click on the Advanced tab and then click on Settings.
    Finally, make sure Show thumbnails instead of icons is checked.
    Thanks a lot.

    Reply
  • 25 July 2014 at 14:18
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    First of all, this is not Scottie’s “fixer”, he simply summarizes the use and provides a link to Leo Davidson’s fixer found on preteniousname.com.
    The fixer is great but it does not completely solve the thumbnail preview problem. Specifically, you will still not have thumbnail previews on shortcuts to PDF files when viewing them from Windows Explorer.
    But you should be able to get it to display thumbnail previews of PDF files in Windows Explorer.
    Since you say that it is not working on your Windows 8 machine I suggest uninstalling the Fixer, and then uninstalling Adobe Reader, then restarting the computer and installing Adobe Reader followed by the fixer again.

    Reply
    • 25 July 2014 at 15:18
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      The fixer is great but it does not completely solve the thumbnail preview problem. Specifically, you will still not have thumbnail previews on shortcuts to PDF files when viewing them from Windows Explorer.

      Well, I DO have thumbnail previews in Explorer. They may not update right away if I change the size of the icons/tiles displayed, but they do after everything has been reindexed by the Windows indexing background process.

      Reply
  • 25 July 2014 at 15:23
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    “Well, I DO have thumbnail previews in Explorer”
    Yes, this is not a problem on many machines, and those that demonstrate the problem can usually be repaired to show the thumbnail previews in Explorer by applying the preteniousname.com fix… but nothing resolves the problem with displaying thumbnail previews in Explorer for shortcuts to PDF files. In fact the pretentiousname.com fix states that it does not address the issue with shortcuts to PDFs in the summary page at time of installation. If you have a solution I would love to know about it. Thanks.

    Reply
    • 25 July 2014 at 17:13
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      Hmm. Shortcuts to PDFs are the same on my machine: sometimes they display the thumbnail right away, sometimes I wait for indexing, and they show up.

      But I’m not surprised it still doesn’t work on some machines, because Acrobat is world famous for having/causing all sorts of problems. Another good example is the Reader plugin for Firefox. CRASH! It works for some people, but crashes FF like clockwork for me.

      I used Foxit for awhile. It’s better in some ways, and worse in others. Oh well.

      Reply
  • 25 July 2014 at 17:32
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    Yes, I have seen thumbnails on shortcuts to PDFs work in Explorer on Windows 64 bit machines that have Reader Professional installed, but none with just the Free Reader. Have also tried the only other PDF readers that I know to have their own preview handler (Foxit, Sumatra, PDF-Xchange) but they do not help (appears the thumbnail preview is generated by Adobe only, not by the preview handler that shows the image in the preview window – not the same as the thumbnail preview). Adobe is silent about this issue. But with the Foxit preview handler installed the thumbnail previews appear much faster than with Adobe’s handler which is just another example of how poorly written the Adobe product is.

    Reply
  • 27 July 2014 at 21:07
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    Thanks. This fix worked like a champ.

    Reply
  • 28 July 2014 at 06:01
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    Working Excellent… many many tanks a lot….

    Reply
  • 28 July 2014 at 06:02
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    i have windows 7 64bit

    Reply
  • 1 August 2014 at 08:34
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    Hi, I installed and ran the fixer. Even though I restarted my laptop, I still cannot see the thumbnail previews. My OS is win 7 ultimate 64bit and the pdf reader is acrobat 9 pro extended. May I know why and whether there is any other approach to fix it? Thanks a lot!

    Reply
    • 1 August 2014 at 13:20
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      Hmm, not sure about that one… The last Pro version I used was Acrobat 10. I have observed that the newer versions seem to behave better, but it’s Acrobat, so one never knows… 😉

      Reply
  • 1 August 2014 at 13:23
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    Bun, read my posts,you should uninstall acrobat and the Pretentiousname.com fixer, restart and reinstall both.

    Reply
  • 1 August 2014 at 16:39
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    @C M
    ps. you may try updating your version of 9 pro as the early version definitely had problems with thumbnails. after you update and restart then reinstall the pretentiousname.com fix.

    Reply
  • 2 August 2014 at 15:30
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    Great blog, and just install on my mother 8.1 machine. Many thanks.

    Reply
  • 13 August 2014 at 08:52
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    Thanks a lot. I run 8.1 and was searching solution for a while.

    Reply
  • 11 September 2014 at 10:01
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    thanks for help i wish to you all seccess

    Reply
  • 13 September 2014 at 04:04
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    Worked perfect, thank you..!

    Reply
  • 12 October 2014 at 19:27
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    Awesome! many thanks

    Reply
  • 29 October 2014 at 22:26
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    THANK YOU! I have spent literally HOURS trying various fixes online and this one worked in seconds. I couldn’t believe it when the icons started changing right before my eyes. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  • 5 December 2014 at 15:07
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    Thank you man ! I spent months, more than a year searching a solution for this problem. You saved me bro ! Now PDF thumbnails are displayed on my 64 bits PC explorer (Windows 8.1). Thanks one more time.

    Reply
  • 10 December 2014 at 17:25
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    thank you very much your patch works a lot

    Reply
  • 15 December 2014 at 22:27
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    thhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhank you soooooooooooooo much i appreciate this
    your the best ^_^

    Reply
  • 16 December 2014 at 18:43
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    Many thanks! It’s really useful getting those thumbnails back on Windows 8 64bit, makes work much easier.
    Much appreciated.

    Reply
  • 22 December 2014 at 04:58
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    Had this problem with Windows 7 and now 8.1 – no thumbnails in Photoshop or Acrobat. The only way to fix easily, is installing Codec. My $19.95 subscription from 2012 is still valid now, with the updated version.
    http://www.ardfry.com/psd-codec/

    I tried various other fixes and thumbnail generators, but none were as effective on Photoshop (especially large files but also slow), and did not work on pdf.

    J

    Reply
  • 22 December 2014 at 17:35
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    @JM
    Was excited to read your suggestion of the “ardfry.com” fix but it suffers the same problem as the “preteniousname.com” fix, namely that it does not display thumbnail previews of shortcuts to PDF files… so it is six of one or a half dozen of the other… in other words it is no better or worse… it is the same half baked ‘solution.’ Still better than nothing, but not a complete solution.

    Reply
  • 22 December 2014 at 18:40
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    @JM
    I take it back, since the “ardfty.com” fix does not do anything more than the “pretentiousname.com” fix does and it costs $15 vs $0 then it is clear that the “pretentiousname.com” fix is better. But neither solve the problem of displaying thumbnail previews on shortcuts to PDF files.

    ps. if you do install the “ardfty.com” trial and then uninstall it you will have to reinstall the “pretentiousname.com” fix to make it work again.

    Reply
  • 4 January 2015 at 15:53
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    “Adobe Reader x64 Fixes v3” Worked perfectly! Thank you!

    Reply
  • 4 February 2015 at 22:38
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    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Adobe, you suck the world dry with your sucking suckiness.

    Reply
  • 26 February 2015 at 11:38
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    thank you very much its works

    Reply
  • 5 March 2015 at 04:29
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    You’re a legend. Fixed previews using Acrobat 9 on win 8.1

    Reply
  • 12 March 2015 at 16:40
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    thanks alot, it worked on windows 8 64x

    Reply
  • 13 March 2015 at 00:11
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    Thank you so much for this easy fix – this has been driving me crazy for months. Wish I’d found your page the first time I looked.

    Reply
  • 22 March 2015 at 13:46
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    Thanks a lot. Absence of thumbnail made my search for e-book tiresome. Thank to you, it is a much more pleasant experience. I appreciate it.

    Reply
  • 21 April 2015 at 16:52
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    This is awesome! I have been looking everywhere for something to fix the thumbnail problem and this is just perfect!! Works great! Thank you for saving me the headache, so easy.

    Reply
  • 29 April 2015 at 00:45
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    thanks guys, it worked immediately and u just spared me a lot of search

    Reply

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