Can PDF thumbnails in Windows Explorer (7 or 8 or 10) show the first page of the PDF file without having to install a custom PDF Preview Handler from Adobe or Foxit or from Tracker Software or from one of the other known preview providers?

Please note: I do NOT mean the specific File Preview pane in Windows Explorer where one can scroll through all the pages of a PDF document (which is provided by a PDF Preview Handler e.g. from Adobe)!

I explicitly mean the thumbnails inside the Windows Explorer browsing area when the Windows Explorer View Mode is set to THUMBNAILS.

If the answer is NO: Can you suggest a MINIMAL installation package for this functionality (thumbnails displaying PDF first page) without having to install Adobe Reader or one of those large PDF packages from one of the other PDF brands?


The answer is "no".

Windows does not contain the ability to open PDFs (necessary to create previews) natively (well, they've added PDF opening to Edge, but I don't believe it will create preview thumbnails), and so relies on a third-party viewer to offer this support.

Regarding the added question at the end: That is a shopping recommendation and we do not do that here for several reasons, but biggest of which are that software changes and what is a good program one day may not be the next, and software is also a matter of opinion.

A simple Google search turned up several software programs offering to do exactly this. The first result was Adobe Reader, but there were others I have not used or heard of before.

The problem is this: Adobe Reader is the 800lb gorilla. We hate it but it's like the Kleenex of the PDF world: you just use it. There are plenty of alternative PDF viewers out there. Some of them are even reputable. If you want previews that badly, you need a program that will give you previews, and unless you're up to the task of writing a program yourself to meet your needs, you are at the mercy of what else is out there, and out there is Adobe Reader, and a handful of others midgets squeaking about.

  • Could you also please answer the question in the last paragraph? – user1580348 Feb 28 '17 at 16:58
  • I saw mentioned elsewhere that Sumatra asks about PDF thumbnails during install. YMMV of course. – Sandwich Jan 20 '19 at 19:53

SageThumbs is a FOSS thumbnail-handler that supports many formats including PDFs. You’ll need to install GhostScript, but at 12.5MB, it's hardly large.

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