Add thumbnails to all your media files in Windows with Media Preview

We take thumbnails for images and video files for granted in Windows Explorer. Unless, of course, we do not have them. If you have media files that display icons instead of a thumbnail preview, then you probably feel mildly annoyed to say the least. Rest assured:

Media Preview is a free, small utility that will make Windows display thumbnails for every conceivable video format. What’s better, it will do so at the click of a button, without fuss or complications.

This subject is dear to my heart, because I had previously written a how-to article on how to add thumbnail previews to MKV and other video formats in Windows. The article used all free software, of course, but was involved many steps and was sufficiently involved to warrant my writing a step-by-step guide on how to do it.

Thumbnails Before and After Media Preview

Not so with Media Preview, where all you need to do is run the program, check the video formats that you would like to have thumbnails for (see screenshot below), and apply.  NOTE: if you lose the thumbnail preview functionality for video formats that were previously there but no longer work after applying Media Preview, go back and check them again.

Media Preview screenshot - configuration

Note that you will need to either (a) browse and open folders that contain the videos that need thumbnails generated to do so, or go to the ‘testing’ tab in the config panel pictured above, and drag and drop folders to generate thumbnails en-masse. Check the ‘recursive’ box if you want recursive folder processing.

The verdict: a simple, beautiful program. If you want media file previews and you don’t have them, Media Preview is the easiest way to do it.

I would have liked for this program NOT to cause video formats that are unchecked to lose their previous thumbnail functionality after applying it, and forcing me to use it to process formats that previously were displaying thumbnails just fine thank you very much. Hopefully they will fix this in a future version.

I’m still holding out for a program that will let me change the thumbnail for individual files, by moving the snapshot time backwards or forwards. If anyone knows of a software that can do this please let me know.

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

Version tested: 1.2.2.169

Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, or later. 32 bit and 64 bit versions available. BE SURE to download the appropriate 32 bit or 64 bit version for your machine.

Go to the program page to download the latest version (~ 5.66 megs).


 
 
 
Samer Kurdi

Samer Kurdi

Has been reviewing software since 2006 when he started Freewaregenius.com
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  • http://carbonize.co.uk Carbonize

    You neglect to mention that if you are using a decent media player such as Pot Player then you don’t need this. I just tested and I can see thumbnails for avi, mp4 and mkv files.

    • Samer

      @ Carbonize: I just did a clean Windows install last week and use PotPlayer (64bit) as my media player, and in face did not have thumbnail previews for MKV, FLV, and MP4 (you can see the top screenshot, the left ‘before’ icons are in fact PotPlayer icons). I am wondering if you might have inadvertently installed codecs at some point that may be responsible for the thumbnails.

      @ Rick: thanks for the kind words!

  • http://www.bookmarks4techs.com Rick

    Rick here from What’s On My PC (whatsonmypc.wordpress.com) and Bookmarks4Techs.com… I am a regular reader and follower of your site content. Today, I featured a feed from your site at Bookmarks4Tech.com under — Today’s Technology News, Software, Apps, Wallpapers, and MORE… 5/10/12

    URL: http://www.bookmarks4techs.com/2012/05/todays-technology-news-software-apps.html

    Keep up the great work and if you ever would like to do a link exchange at What’s On My PC, let me know.

    Rick

  • http://carbonize.co.uk Carbonize

    Never installed any codecs on here though. I did used to use KMPlayer before it went rubbish and then went straight to Pot Player.

  • eu

    Shark007 codecs: http://shark007.net/
    “Things the Shark pack does that other packs cannot do . . .

    1. Full color thumbnails including FLV’s and 10bit MKV’s
    (also allows users to select at what point by percentage to grab the thumbnail)”

  • Borhan

    If you have k Lite codec pack installed in your PC then you don’t need to install this application.

  • http://carbonize.co.uk Carbonize

    Not a big fan of installing stupid codec packs such as K-Lite as they end up cluttering your computer with things you will probably never use. Back when I used to use a codec instead of just a decent player I went with FFDShow which is one codec that plays most things.

    I wonder if FFD Show would do thumbnails.

  • http://www.babelsoft.net Cyril APAN

    “I would have liked for this program NOT to cause video formats that are unchecked to lose their previous thumbnail functionality after applying it, and forcing me to use it to process formats that previously were displaying thumbnails just fine thank you very much. Hopefully they will fix this in a future version.”

    Hi, I’m the author of Media Preview. I’m quite surprised that you encountered this issue as I worked on this after the author of K-Lite asked me to implement a system to avoid this kind of situation by backing up initial configuration before Media Preview installation. The author of K-Lite will probably include Media Preview in a future version of his package.

    Maybe you can give me some directions on how to reproduce this bug?

  • http://www.babelsoft.net Cyril APAN

    “I would have liked for this program NOT to cause video formats that are unchecked to lose their previous thumbnail functionality after applying it, and forcing me to use it to process formats that previously were displaying thumbnails just fine thank you very much. Hopefully they will fix this in a future version.”

    Hi, I’m the author of Media Preview. I’m quite surprised that you encountered this issue as I worked on this after the author of K-Lite asked me to implement a system to avoid this kind of situation by backing up initial configuration before Media Preview installation. The author of K-Lite will probably include Media Preview in a future version of his package.

    Maybe you can give me some directions on how to reproduce this bug?

  • Mystique

    I’d also like to mention that this software does not require codecs and as such is vastly more stable than others, I have compared this to icaros which was reviewed here in the past in relation to mkv video files but honestly after playing around with various tools, codec packs and registry edits I found myself always looking for an alternative.

    Icaros much like every other solution I have tried always caused explorer to crash on thumbnail generation for various reason and also seemed to bog down my system, this not being the case with Media Preview which is simply a pleasure to work with.

    Also in reply to eu, I believe Media Preview may also allows users to select at what point by percentage to grab the thumbnail too by simply going to the ‘settings’ tab and selecting ‘custom’ at which point you can dial in the percentage at which you would like the position to begin at.

  • http://kjenneth.dk kjenneth holm

    Hi There Samer,
    Thanks you for your post, There’s a concern that many of us out there have when we have a need to restore deleted files… Windows XP – is this version of Windows too old and outdated to be able to work with the advanced file recovery software tools that are available today? It really is quite an interesting question, and one that I personally haven’t had the need to think about until very recently when a particular situation had arisen which caused it to enter my mind. As Windows operating systems go, XP really isn’t ancient or anything, but the more recent versions seem entirely more evolved and are capable of far more difficult tasks and at higher speeds – has Windows XP and it’s abilities been left in the dust?
    Wishes

  • Evan

    I just tried this on XP, and it’s fantastic!

    I’ve tried other methods to get thumbnails for my .FLV and other video types and it always ended in frustration and disappointment and lots of Explorer crashes. But, this program really works! It was able to generate over 18,000 thumbnails in hardly any time at all. I was amazed by the speed.

    It’s really nice because I was able to easily find duplicate videos based on their thumbnails, and regained a good chunk of hard-disk space in the process! I was using a duplicate file-finder that searched for dupes by file-size, but differences in encoding, or even file-type can cause that method of duplicate detection to fail, frequently.

    It’s quite easy to find the dupes when you see two identical or nearly identical thumbnails!

    This is really a fantastic program.

  • rokka

    Great work, fine program!

    My mkv thumbnails disappeared after installation of win 7 may updates.I worked three hours with my Win7 64 bit laptop – trying to get the mkv-thumbs visible. Uninstalled and installed again the latest version of k-lite codec pacs, 32bit, 64bit version and haali mediasplitter. Tryed several combinations with tweak-tools and – no luck.

    And after three hours I found this, installed – and a MIRACLE HAPPENS. First time ever I can see every thumbnail of all my videos.

    So thanks and greetings from Finland with bad english!

  • Ahal

    So let me sum up so far: To this day, there still does not exist any software (free or paid) that lets us select a specific frame from the video itself and set as thumbnail in windows. Right?

  • jitendra d

    thanks media preview works fine I got the thumbnail preview for all media files great software