Add thumbnail previews to PDF files in Windows with PDF Preview


Adobe Acrobat Reader is one of the first things most people install on a computer, but one thing which I do not understand is why it does not offer the option for thumbnail previews in Windows (other free PDF readers, such as PDF XChange Viewer, offer this by default).

If you use Adobe PDF Reader and would like thumbnail previews in Windows then this software is for you: PDF Preview is a free Windows extension that will simply add thumbnail previews for PDFs, as shown in the screenshot above.

How to use: first off, check that in fact you do not have thumbnail previews for PDF already. (In the case that you may have multiple PDF readers installed on your system, you may already have these). If not, download, install and run PDF Preview. Next, open a folder in Windows and watch as the PDF icons for your documents are replaced with thumbnail previews. If this does not happen you may need to logoff and login first (or restart your computer).

PDF preview before and after

The verdict: does the job well enough. Personally, I would instead recommend a different PDF viewer than Adobe’s (e.g. PDF XChange Viewer), but if you are happy with Adobe Acrobat and would simply like to add thumbnail previews, PDF Preview delivers.

[Thanks go to reader Panzer for the tip about this software]

Version tested: 1.00 build 36

Compatibility: Windows 2000 through Windows 7. 32 bit and 64 bit.

Go to the program page for more info, or straight to the download page (scroll down; approx 3.68 megs).

  • Fletch

    There is also a way to generate thumbnails without any extra program, but it only works on a folder-by-folder basis.

    What you do it open Adobe Reader. Now go to File -> Open, as though you are going to open a file. Navigate to the folder containing your PDFs. Choose a thumbnail view to see the files. It will now generate thumbnail images. You may have to scroll down using the scrollbar so that it generates them all.

    Now, cancel out of the Open dialog without opening anything, and close Adobe Reader.

    Now when you navigate to that same folder in Windows Explorer, the thumbnails will all be there. As I said, it’s not a perfect solution because you’d have to carry out this procedure on every folder, but it doesn’t require an external program.

  • kaylee

    didn’t work for me, just shows a icon
    restarted computer
    win 7 64

  • If you already use a decent PDF reader such as PDF-Xchange Viewer instead of the bloat that is Adobe then you already have the thumbnails without needing an extra program.

  • Shadow Lord

    Actually Adobe acrobat does this. However, a bug prevents it from working. Check out:

  • Fayazdo

    I agree with Carbonize.
    Why would you want to install Adobe Acrobat Reader on any PC for ? It is not a very good program in my opinion, so I got rid of it. Since there are so many excellent PDF readers (I name only Sumatra PDF Reader) that are both freeware (Sumatra is GNU/GPL) and faster then Adobe’s product. Aforementioned Sumatra PDF also provides me with thumbnails.