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6 Ways To Fix PDF Thumbnails Not Showing on Windows

by Ravi Teja KNTS
Enable PDF Thumbnails on Windows File Explorer

Windows File Explorer shows thumbnails for images, videos, etc. so that you can distinguish between files and open the one needed quickly. However, it displays a generic file format icon for many file formats including PDF. When Windows doesn’t show thumbnails for PDF files, the only differentiating factor is the name of the file. There are a couple of ways to fix PDF thumbnails not showing on Windows 10 and 11 PCs.

1. Fix PDF Thumbnails Using the Adobe Acrobat

If you use Adobe acrobat as your Windows PDF reader, you can take advantage of a feature from the Acrobat app.

1. First, you need to set Acrobat as your default PDF reader app on Windows. To do that, right-click on the PDF file and select Open with option in the context menu, then select Choose another app option.

Opening with option on Windows File Explorer

2. Now select the Adobe Acrobat app and then click on Always. This will open the PDF file in the Adobe Acrobat app and also set the app as default for the future.

Selecting Adobe Acrobat app to open PDF file

3. Now in the Adobe Acrobat app, click on Edit and then select the Preferences option.

Opening Adobe Acrobat Preferences

4. In the Preferences tab, select General in the left sidebar and then enable the toggle beside Enable PDF thumbnail previews in Windows Explorer.

Enable PDF thumbnail previews in Windows Explorer

5. Once done, scroll down to the bottom and click on OK. You need to be connected to the internet for the changes to be implemented as it has to download and install the software required to change the PDF icon to a thumbnail.

Ok to save the Adobe Acrobat Settings

That’s it, now you can open File Explorer and all your PDF files should be showing a thumbnail on Windows.

PDF thumbnail on Windows

2. Fix PDF Thumbnails Using PowerToys

PowerToys is a free and open-source application. It is one of the best personal productivity tools for Windows.

1. Download the PowerToys app from GitHub and install it. You can also download it from the Microsoft Store easily, but it will be a few versions behind.

2. Open the PowerToys app and select the File Explorer Add-ons tool from the sidebar.

File Explorer add-ons on Power Toys

2. Now scroll down to the Thumbnail icon preview section and enable the toggle beside Portable Document Format (PDF).

Enabling thumbnail for PDF on Power Toys

Once done, restart your Windows computer for the changes to take place. That should enable the thumbnails for PDFs irrespective of what PDF reader you are using.

By the way, did you know that you can also use PowerToys to extract text from literally any screen on Windows?

3. Fix PDF Thumbnails Using Registry Editor

Instead of installing an app to simply preview PDF thumbnails on Windows, you can use the Registry Editor. But it can be a bit complicated and technical. Also, changing settings from the registry editor isn’t advisable if you don’t understand what you are doing. Having said that:

1. Open the Registry Editor app on Windows using Windows search. Give admin permissions if asked.

Opening Registry Editor on Windows

2. In the Registry Editor, paste the following code at the top to drill down to the folder structure.

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Classes\CLSID\
Opening the path on Registry Editor

3. Now search for the {DC6EFB56-9CFA-464D-8880-44885D7DC193} file under it.

Selecting the path on Registry Editor

4. If you cannot find that file, right-click on CLSID, select New and click on the Key option. Now create the key with {DC6EFB56-9CFA-464D-8880-44885D7DC193} name and press Enter to save.

Creating a new key on Registry Editor

5. Now inside the newly created key, double-click on the AppID file. If it is missing, right-click anywhere in the right window pane, select New and click on String Value. Name the value as AppID.

APPID option on Registry Editor

6. In the AppID pop-up, delete any previous value data and enter {534A1E02-D58F-44f0-B58B-36CBED287C7C} under the Value data option, then click OK.

Changing value data on Registry Editor

7. Restart Windows PC and you should see the thumbnails for PDFs.

4. Check If Thumbnails are Disabled

If PDF thumbnails are still missing on Windows, make sure that thumbnails are not turned off in File Explorer.

1. Open File Explorer and click on the Kebab menu (three-dot menu) in the top bar. In the drop-down, select Options.

Opening File Explorer Options on Windows

2. In the pop-up window, select the View tab.

3. Now make sure the Always show icons, never thumbnails option is disabled. If not, disable the option and click on Apply, then OK.

Turning off Always show icons never thumbnails option on File Explorer

Now your PDF thumbnails should be visible on Windows File Explorer.

5. Reset Thumbnail Cache

The thumbnail cache is nothing but the thumbnails stored on Windows to display them immediately so Windows doesn’t have to regenerate them on the fly every time. Sometimes the changes you make may not get applied instantly. So removing the cache kind of resets the thumbnails forcing Windows to regenerate and save them.

1. Open the Settings app from Windows search or just press Ctrl + I.

2. Now click on the Storage option under System.

Opening Storage option on Windows

3. Then select the Temporary files option.

Opening Temporary files on Windows Settings

4. Now deselect all the options except for Thumbnails.

5. Then click on the Remove files button at the top to remove the thumbnail cache.

Removing Thumbnails Cache on Windows

Are PDF thumbnails are visible?

6. Enable the Preview pane on File Explorer

More than the thumbnail, using the preview pane is more useful. When you enable the preview pane in File Explorer, upon clicking on the file, you can check the first 10 pages of the PDF in the preview pane. This is much faster than opening the app and checking the PDF. As you can check the first 10 pages in the preview pane, it can come in handy when you are searching for a file.

1. Open the File Explorer, and click on the View option in the top bar.

2. Select Show and enable the Preview Pane option.

Enabling Preview Page on Windows File Explorer

3. Now just click on any PDF file. You should see the preview pane on the right-hand side. You can also scroll down to check out other pages.

PDF Preview on preview page on Windows File Explorer

Not just the PDFs, the preview will also work for many other file types like photos, videos, gifs, word documents, etc.

PDF Thumbnails on Windows

You can enable PDF thumbnails from Adobe Acrobat, Power Toys, or even Registry Editor. If those options aren’t working, make sure that thumbnails are enabled on the File Explorer and remove the thumbnail cache. Apart from just the PDF thumbnails, you can also enable the preview page on File Explorer. It gives you the option to check the first few pages of the PDF before opening it.

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