Add thumbnails to all your media files in Windows with Media Preview


We take thumbnails for images and video files for granted in Windows Explorer. Unless, of course, we do not have them. If you have media files that display icons instead of a thumbnail preview, then you probably feel mildly annoyed to say the least. Rest assured:

Media Preview is a free, small utility that will make Windows display thumbnails for every conceivable video format. What’s better, it will do so at the click of a button, without fuss or complications.

This subject is dear to my heart, because I had previously written a how-to article on how to add thumbnail previews to MKV and other video formats in Windows. The article used all free software, of course, but was involved many steps and was sufficiently involved to warrant my writing a step-by-step guide on how to do it.

Thumbnails Before and After Media Preview

Not so with Media Preview, where all you need to do is run the program, check the video formats that you would like to have thumbnails for (see screenshot below), and apply.  NOTE: if you lose the thumbnail preview functionality for video formats that were previously there but no longer work after applying Media Preview, go back and check them again.

Media Preview screenshot - configuration

Note that you will need to either (a) browse and open folders that contain the videos that need thumbnails generated to do so, or go to the ‘testing’ tab in the config panel pictured above, and drag and drop folders to generate thumbnails en-masse. Check the ‘recursive’ box if you want recursive folder processing.

The verdict: a simple, beautiful program. If you want media file previews and you don’t have them, Media Preview is the easiest way to do it.

I would have liked for this program NOT to cause video formats that are unchecked to lose their previous thumbnail functionality after applying it, and forcing me to use it to process formats that previously were displaying thumbnails just fine thank you very much. Hopefully they will fix this in a future version.

I’m still holding out for a program that will let me change the thumbnail for individual files, by moving the snapshot time backwards or forwards. If anyone knows of a software that can do this please let me know.

[Thanks go to reader Panzer for the tip about this program]

Version tested:

Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, or later. 32 bit and 64 bit versions available. BE SURE to download the appropriate 32 bit or 64 bit version for your machine.

Go to the program page to download the latest version (~ 5.66 megs).