HTML & CSS - - By Alex Walker

Adobe CS3 and the Case of the Disappearing Thumbnails – The Sequel

So, it’s been almost two years since we first published a little a piece on getting your thumbnails to work again in Adobe Creative Suite 2. The exec summary: Adobe disabled many of thumbnails that used to display in Explorer, presumably to ‘motivate‘ CS3 users to use Bridge. After some teeth gritting and a little research, we figured out a workaround and published it there.

Two years later, it’s been one of our more popular posts ever since — approaching 140 comments last time I checked, and generally getting another comment or two most weeks.

However, Adobe still like Bridge and still would like you to use Bridge, so responded by making things just that little bit more difficult in CS3. If allowed, Illustrator CS3 checks that thumbnails are disabled every time it starts — if it finds they aren’t, it makes changes to ensure they are.

If you let it that is..

Thankfully the issue has been solved, and I’m keen to pass on the solution and the credit for it.

William M Park is a talented painter, Photoshop power user and apparently sometime registry tweaker.

Along with the DLLs and REG files mentioned in the original solution, William has put together a detailed PDF explaining the registry changes CS3 users will need to make to get their AI and PSD thumbnails back.

You can download the PDF, DLL and REG files in a nice neat ZIP from here.

Nice work, William.

With William’s kind permission, I’ve republished the instructions from his PDF here to give you an idea of what’s involved without having to download.

Enabling AI and PSD thumbnails in Windows Explorer

Adobe CS, CS2 and CS3 disables thumbnail previews in Windows Explorer. To correct this:

1). Go to ‘Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/System Restore’ and follow the instructions to create a system restore point. In the unlikely event things go wrong, come back to this menu to undo any changes you’ve a made since.

2). Place the following files in C:Program FilesCommon FilesAdobeShell

  • psicon.dll
  • aiicon.dll

3). Run the two registry files.

That will work if you are running CS or CS2. For CS3 you will have to edit a key in the registry, to prevent Illustrator from deleting the key every time it starts.

4). Click start/run, type ‘regedit’, then locate and right click the following key:


Permissions on the right click menu
5). Click ‘Permissions‘.

6). Click the ‘Advanced‘ button.

7). Find *your* user name (i.e not WILLIAM(DELLWILLIAM)), highlight it, then click the ‘Edit…‘ button.

Permissions on the right click menu

8). Put a tick in the Deny column’s ‘Delete’ box, then click ‘OK’. Ignore any security warning and just click OK.

Permissions on the right click menu

9). This will prevent Illustrator from deleting the key when it starts.

That’s it. If everything has gone to plan, you should now have thumbnails.

>> jgaris points out in a comment below that Windows Vista has an issue with some of the uppercase directory names used in the Illustrator reg file. The fix is straight forward.

To correct this, follow these steps:
1. Before double-clicking the file aiicon.dll.reg, open it in a text editor
2. On line 6 is the path to the aiicon.dll, but it is in CAPS. Change it to all lowercase (like the actual filename – aiicon.dll).
3. Save the file and close it, then double click the file to apply the registry changes.

The psicon.dll.reg is already correct and does not need to be edited.
Then restart your computer and all should be good.