Adobe Acrobat Reader includes a thumbnail extractor shell extension which generates thumbnail preview for PDF files in Explorer. If you want to disable PDF thumbnail generation for performance or for other reasons, use the steps listed below:

(This assumes that you have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed in your system.)

Disable Thumbnail Preview for .PDF files

Note: For an automated solution using REG files, see section Registry Fix in this article.

1. Launch Regedit.exe and navigate to the following branch:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT \ AcroExch.Document.7 \ Shellex \ {BB2E617C-0920-11d1-9A0B-00C04FC2D6C1}

2. Backup the branch using the Export option under File menu.

3. Right-click {BB2E617C-0920-11d1-9A0B-00C04FC2D6C1} and choose Delete. Click Yes when prompted for confirmation.

4. Exit the Registry Editor.

5. Logoff and login back for the change to take effect.

Tip: Existing PDF files may still show thumbnail preview from the thumbnail cache. In Windows XP you can simply delete the hidden file named thumbs.db (thumbnail database file) to refresh the views. In Windows Vista, use the Disk Cleanup tool to clear the thumbnail cache.

If you’re using Windows Vista, the Preview pane can still generate preview for PDF files, despite the above setting.

Registry Fix

1. Download pdf-thumb.zip and save to Desktop.

2. Extract the files to a folder.

3. Double-click pdf-thumb-disable.reg to run it.

4. Logoff and login back for the change to take effect.

Undo information: To reverse the changes, run the file pdf-thumb-enable.reg.


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4 Comments

  1. TomS
    said this on Thursday, December 5th 2013 6:14 am

    Thanks to Leo, the 64-bit thing worked!!

  2. FCWatson
    said this on Monday, October 1st 2012 1:31 am

    et al:

    For Win7 Acrobat Pro x

    Was not sure which on of these actually fixed the problem, but one of them did. Since I did all these without rechecking to see if the problem still existed afterwards, I am not sure which one actually fixed the problem But after I did the #3 and reboot. Worked perfectly.

    FYI: Below is the order in which I stepped through the repair.

    1. Go to Control Panel > folders options under each of the General, View and Search Tabs
    click the Restore Defaults button and the Reset Folders button

    2. Go to Internet Explorer
    Tools > Options > Advanced > Reset ( I did not need to delete personal settings)

    3. Open Acrobat Pro X
    under Edit > Preferences > General
    At the bottom of page Select Default PDF Handler. I chose Adobe Pro X and click apply. May ask you to reboot. (I did).

    Best Wishes

  3. Calchick
    said this on Sunday, June 10th 2012 12:54 am

    Wow, the pdf-thumb.zip above saved the day!!! I have been searching for a solution for my Thumbnail Previews NOT showing up. I have a ton of crochet patterns and seeing the preview photos is absolutely necessary to look for a pattern instead of scrolling thru and reading each name. THANKS SO MUCH for showing the solution!!!!! Something great will happen to you today for helping people! :)

  4. said this on Thursday, October 7th 2010 3:34 pm

    To those looking for a 64-bit PDF thumbnail fix:

    http://www.pretentiousname.com/adobe_pdf_x64_fix/index.html

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