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Adobe CS2 and the Case of the Disappearing Thumbnails!

By Alex Walker

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For all its unquestionable power, Adobe Creative Suite 2 certainly has a number of irritating habits.

Number #1 with a bullet on my list has been its deliberate disabling of thumbnail views of Illustrator and Photoshop native files.

‘Pre-CS’ versions of both programs did an excellent job of providing a quick refresher of what each file contained, but with the birth of CS (and suspiciously enough, Adobe Bridge which DOES give you full thumbnails) all PSD, EPS and AI files suddenly reverted to being displayed as nothing more than blithe little icons in Windows Explorer. Welcome to 1999.

Figuring this was probably something that had been disabled rather than removed, Matt spent a little time researching the issue this afternoon, and thanks to some outstanding work by Mike Golding and Stewart Whaley, here are the findings.

A screenshot of icons changed to thumbnails

In short, the issue is solvable. This solution does, however require you to make some registry changes and install a couple of DLLs. It also assumes you installed CS2 in it’s default folders.

However be warned: playing with the registry is a dark, dangerous art, properly understood only by great wizards and the clinically insane. Basically, we can’t guarantee you won’t turn your PC into a large blancmange.

However, if you’re feeling brave (or you just really like blancmange), here are the instructions.

  1. Download this file to a temporary folder.
  2. Shut down all Adobe programs.
  3. Set a ‘system return point’ to allow you to rollback the changes should anything go wrong (if your system supports it).
  4. Unzip it to ‘C:Program FilesCommon FilesAdobeShell‘. You could quite likely already have either of the DLL files. No matter.
  5. Run ‘aiicon.dll.reg‘ by double clicking it.
  6. Run ‘psicon.dll.reg‘ by double clicking it.

That should do it. If you can’t smell smoke right now it probably worked. To be fair, we’ve had no problems at all, and it’s worked faultlessly everytime. Memories of long past registry meltdowns die hard though.

Ah,.. sometimes it’s the tiny joys that really make a difference.

There is an update to this post for Adobe CS3 users published here.

Alex has been doing cruel and unusual things to CSS since 2001. He is the lead front-end design and dev for SitePoint and one-time SitePoint's Design and UX editor with over 150+ newsletter written. Now Alex is involved in the planning, development, production, and marketing of a huge range of printed and online products and references. He has designed over 40+ of SitePoint's book covers.

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