Windows explorer can show thumbnails of jpg, png, tif even of RAW image formats like NEF(Nikon, by installing a package from MS), but it doesn't show thumbnails of GIMP generated .xcf files. It only shows an icon as below,
Which is really annoying as if I wanted to know what image does the file contain, I would have to open it with GIMP. The problem here is that GIMP takes a lot of time to load, and I don't like that.
Is there any way to get Windows Explorer to show the thumbnails of xcf files?

Note: I am using Windows 7.

2 Answers 2


So, GIMP can't do that alone - what is needed is: a program that is associated with XCF files and gerenerate thumbnails.

The specfications for it are at:

https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb776855(v=VS.85).aspx (Thanks to the answer here: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/9572669/how-can-i-create-thumbnail-preview-icons-in-windows-explorer-for-document-files)

And them, you don't need to have this program to actively read and render XCF files: GIMP adheres to the Free Desktop standard for thumbnails, as detailed here:


In short: given the image path as an URI of the kind "file:///c:/my_directory/subdir/image.xcf", take the hex-form of the md5 hash of this path, and save the thumbnail as a png file named "<md5>.png" in a .cache folder on the user home directory.

So, if one can build a minimal program that requires as a Windows "active icon" extension that just reads the thumbnails on the correct directory (and resizes them as required by the Windows API parameters) that program would work.

As listed in the other answers, there might be bigger programs that already do that. But if someone reading here is interested in contributing to GIMP for Windows eco-system, and find himself capable of creating such a program, it would be a nice addition to the GIMP-Windows project. (maintained by volunteers who build and create te installers of GIMP for Windows - the project tself has lttle code of its own - mostly for the Windows installer)


There are 3rd party programs that can do this if you Google for them. SageThumbs is one.

  • 1
    Is there any native way of doing it? Like an add-on or plug-in from GIMP.
    – RogUE
    Feb 11, 2017 at 14:27
  • this will add thumbnails to explorer, according to its description.
    – Keltari
    Feb 11, 2017 at 15:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.