Thumbnail Icons?

InDesign Secrets received a great question from a user in Geneva, Switzerland:

I’m sure you’ve replied to this question a hundred times.
Do you know a way to make InDesign CS3 files show a preview icon instead of the generic InDesign file icon? Wasn’t this possible in previous versions? I’ve been googling around with no success.

You can see this kind of preview in Bridge if you have set InDesign’s preferences to include a thumbnail image in the document’s metadata. It would be possible to see a thumbnail in InDesign’s Open dialog if we grabbed that thumbnail in the metadata as well, but at the moment we’re not doing that and Bridge is your best alternative.

Getting a thumbnail in the Finder or explorer is a more complicated proposition, and right now it’s not supported. The Mac and Windows operating systems have different methods of enabling this type of thumbnail, and in the case of the Mac OS, this support has been inconsistent from version to version so it hasn’t been pursued.

7 Responses to Thumbnail Icons?

  1. Edwin Martin says:

    In Windows it is possible to see the thumbnails. You have to use some old Adobe software. It even works with CS2 and with Vista. It’s a shame Adobe removed this feature.


    [Yes, it’s definitely possible on Windows, I’m hearing mixed things about the Mac OS at the moment. InDesign has never tried to store thumbnails for the Finder or Explorer, but instead has put thumbnails in the XMP metadata for Bridge. I’m looking into the history of thumbnails for Photoshop and Illustrator now. Stay tuned…]

  2. Elja Trum says:

    Perhaps not relevant to InDesign (sorry about that), but do you know anything about thumbnail support voor the DNG format in Windows Vista?

    Any plans for support? It makes DNG use less attractive in comparison to RAW files that do support thumbnails (with the available codecs).

  3. L. Thomas Martin says:

    I would encourage people to try Bridge. I have been using it regularly since upgrading to CS3 and now prefer it to explorer or Finder. It is still heavily oriented towards managing photos and graphics but is also useful to those of us who work with long, text-filled, documents as well.

    It crashes from time to time on XP SP2 (2-3 times per week) but without corrupting files, as far as I can tell. Working with MSWord files and dragging files to the trash from Bridge may be causes.


  4. Anne-Marie says:

    You can see thumbnails of ID files outside of Bridge in the Mac OS; just use the Adobe dialog box in any CSx dialog box. Admittedly the only time you’d probably need to see the thumbnail would be in InDesign’s Open/Save dialog box (or while Placing, in CS3). If you’re not seeing ID thumbnails in the Adobe Dialox box (click the Use Adobe Dialog button in the normal dialog box to switch to it), go to the little View icon at the upper right of the dialog box and choose “thumbnails” from the dropdown menu. Give the dialog box a few seconds to generate the thumbnails. Works great with .ai files too; the thumbnails are much bigger than normal.

  5. David Blake says:

    Perhaps not relevant to InDesign (sorry about that), but do you know anything about thumbnail support voor the DNG format in Windows Vista?

    We have developed a DNG Codec for Vista that allows you to see Thumbnails and Previews of DNG in Vista and Windows Live Photo Gallery on XP.

    A free trial is available.

  6. Casey says:

    Along these same lines…
    I just installed CS3 and uninstalled CS2 and now all my InDesign files have that generic icon (when the format isn’t recognized) next to them instead of the InDesign file icon. Any remedies for this?

    [TC: On both Mac and Windows you can edit the file type/application associations. On the Mac you use cmd + i to change the Open With setting in the file info window. On Windows you right click one of the files in question and edit the Properties to do the same thing.]

  7. Ron P says:

    Great blog! I have a new/clean computer which is running Vista 32bit. I purchased and installed Web Premium CS3 successfully. Then purchased InDesign CS3 separately and installed successfully. When using Bridge to browse INDD files made by others, I can see those previews and thumbnails without a problem. Now I create new INDD files and all I get are the *#&%! magenta icons and no previews in Bridge (which I do use a lot) or Explorer. What is going on? PLEASE HELP! All other old and new CS3 docs show thumbnails and previews fine and all the time. Thank you for any input!

    [TC: Hi Ron. Check your InDesign Preferences settings. Preferences > File Handling > Saving InDesign Files. Make sure that Always Save Preview Images with Documents is selected. If that option is selected and you’re still not seeing a preview, then there’s something else going on. In that case I’d start with the free User to User forums on the Adobe website (there are separate forums for Mac and Windows ID users).]