Ubuntu – What additional thumbnailers are available and how to install them



Ubuntu's file manager, Nautilus, comes with a wide support for file previews. These thumbnails are handled by helper programs called thumbnailers.

The number of thumbnailers that come preinstalled with Ubuntu are limited and thus some more exotic file types aren't rendered by default.

What additional thumbnailers can I install to activate previews in these cases?

Related Q&As:

How can I instruct Nautilus to pre-generate thumbnails?


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Best Answer

General installation instructions

Thumbnailers in repositories and PPAs

A number of thumbnailers are pre-packaged and can be easily installed from the software center or the command line. These thumbnailers don't require any additional configuration and should work right after restarting nautilus. You can do so with:

nautilus -q 

Please consider reading these Q&As before installing anything from a PPA:

What are PPAs and how do I use them?

Are PPA's safe to add to my system and what are some "red flags" to watch out for?

Custom thumbnailing scripts on Ubuntu 11.04 and above

Custom thumbnailers that aren't available in repositories have to be installed manually. These are the steps you will have to take to install them:

Check out whether the script has any dependecies listed. If so, install them first.

Download the script and make it executable with chmod a+x filethumbnailer or via Nautilus

Designate a folder in your file system for all future thumbnailers and move the script to it, e.g.

mkdir $HOME/.scripts/thumbnailers && mv filethumbnailer $HOME/.scripts/thumbnailers

Next you will have to register your script with Nautilus. To do so create a thumbnailer entry in /usr/share/thumbnailers. The entry should follow the naming scheme foo.thumbnailer where foo is an expression of your choice (here file):

gksudo gedit /usr/share/thumbnailers/file.thumbnailer

The thumbnailer specifications follow this scheme:

[Thumbnailer Entry]
Exec=$HOME/.scripts/thumbnailers/file.thumbnailer %i %o %s

The Exec entry points to your thumbnailer script while the MimeType field designates the related MimeTypes. Possible variables are:

%i Input file path
%u Input file URI
%o Output file path
%s Thumbnail size (vertical)

The specifications and variables will vary with each script. Simply copy and paste the content of the respective text box into the file and save it.

The thumbnailers should be up and running after restarting nautilus (nautilus -q).

Custom thumbnailing scripts on Ubuntu 11.04 and below

Earlier versions of Ubuntu rely on GConf for thumbnailer associations. See here for more information.






Thumbnailers by file type

CHM files


Description: With this script you'll get thumbnails of your chm files in the nautilus file manager. The script uses the largest image from the homepage of the chm file to generate the thumbnail, usually this will be an image of the front cover.

Creator: monraaf (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1159569)

Dependencies: sudo apt-get install python-beautifulsoup python-chm imagemagick

Thumbnailer entry

[Thumbnailer Entry]
Exec=$HOME/.scripts/thumbnailers/chmthumbnailer %i %o %s


#!/usr/bin/env python

import sys, os
from chm import chm
from BeautifulSoup import BeautifulSoup

class ChmThumbNailer(object):
    def __init__(self):
        self.chm = chm.CHMFile()

    def thumbnail(self, ifile, ofile, sz):

        if self.chm.LoadCHM(ifile) == 0:
            return 1

        bestname    = None
        bestsize    = 0
        base        = self.chm.home.rpartition('/')[0] + '/'
        size, data  = self.getfile(self.chm.home)

        if size > 0:
            if self.chm.home.endswith(('jpg','gif','bmp')):
                self.write(ofile, sz, data)
                soup = BeautifulSoup(data)
                imgs = soup.findAll('img')
                for img in imgs:
                    name = base + img.get("src","")
                    size, data = self.getfile(name)
                    if size > bestsize:
                        bestsize = size
                        bestname = name
                if bestname != None:
                    size, data = self.getfile(bestname)
                    if size > 0:
                        self.write(ofile, sz, data)

    def write(self, ofile, sz, data):
        fd = os.popen('convert - -resize %sx%s "%s"' % (sz, sz, ofile), "w")

    def getfile(self,name):
        (ret, ui) = self.chm.ResolveObject(name)
        if ret == 1:
            return (0, '')
        return self.chm.RetrieveObject(ui)

if len(sys.argv) > 3:
    chm = ChmThumbNailer()
    chm.thumbnail(sys.argv[1], sys.argv[2], sys.argv[3])

EPUB files


Description: epub-thumbnailer is a simple script that tries to find a cover in an epub file and creates a thumbnail for it.

Creator: Mariano Simone (https://github.com/marianosimone/epub-thumbnailer)

Dependencies: none listed, worked fine right away

Thumbnailer Entry

[Thumbnailer Entry]
Exec=$HOME/.scripts/thumbnailers/epubthumbnailer %i %o %s



#  This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
#  it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
#  the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or
#  (at your option) any later version.
#  This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
#  but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
#  GNU General Public License for more details.
#  You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
#  along with this program.  If not, see <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/>.

# Author: Mariano Simone (marianosimone@gmail.com)
# Version: 1.0
# Name: epub-thumbnailer
# Description: An implementation of a cover thumbnailer for epub files
# Installation: see README

import zipfile
import sys
import Image
import os
import re
from xml.dom import minidom
from StringIO import StringIO

def get_cover_from_manifest(epub):
    img_ext_regex = re.compile("^.*\.(jpg|jpeg|png)$")

    # open the main container
    container = epub.open("META-INF/container.xml")
    container_root = minidom.parseString(container.read())

    # locate the rootfile
    elem = container_root.getElementsByTagName("rootfile")[0]
    rootfile_path = elem.getAttribute("full-path")

    # open the rootfile
    rootfile = epub.open(rootfile_path)
    rootfile_root = minidom.parseString(rootfile.read())

    # find the manifest element
    manifest = rootfile_root.getElementsByTagName("manifest")[0]
    for item in manifest.getElementsByTagName("item"):
        item_id = item.getAttribute("id")
        item_href = item.getAttribute("href")
        if "cover" in item_id and img_ext_regex.match(item_href.lower()):
            cover_path = os.path.join(os.path.dirname(rootfile_path), 
            return cover_path

    return None

def get_cover_by_filename(epub):
    cover_regex = re.compile(".*cover.*\.(jpg|jpeg|png)")

    for fileinfo in epub.filelist:
        if cover_regex.match(os.path.basename(fileinfo.filename).lower()):
            return fileinfo.filename

    return None

def extract_cover(cover_path):
    if cover_path:
        cover = epub.open(cover_path)
        im = Image.open(StringIO(cover.read()))
        im.thumbnail((size, size), Image.ANTIALIAS)
        im.save(output_file, "PNG")
        return True
    return False

# Which file are we working with?
input_file = sys.argv[1]
# Where do does the file have to be saved?
output_file = sys.argv[2]
# Required size?
size = int(sys.argv[3])

# An epub is just a zip
epub = zipfile.ZipFile(input_file, "r")

extraction_strategies = [get_cover_from_manifest, get_cover_by_filename]

for strategy in extraction_strategies:
        cover_path = strategy(epub)
        if extract_cover(cover_path):
    except Exception as ex:
        print "Error getting cover using %s: " % strategy.__name__, ex


EXE files


Description: gnome-exe-thumbnailer is a thumbnailer for Gnome that will give Windows .exe files an icon based on their embedded icon and a generic "Wine program" icon. If the program has normal execute permissions, then the standard embedded icon will be shown. This thumbnailer will also give a thumbnail icon for .jar, .py, and similar executable programs.

Availability: official repositories


sudo apt-get install gnome-exe-thumbnailer

ODP/ODS/ODT and other LibreOffice and Open Office files


Description: ooo-thumbnailer is a LibreOffice, OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office document thumbnailer that can be used by Nautilus to create thumbnails for your documents, spreadsheets, presentations and drawings.

Availability: developer's PPA (most recent version that's compatible with LibreOffice in Ubuntu 12.04 and up)


sudo add-apt-repository ppa:flimm/ooo-thumbnailer && apt-get update && apt-get install ooo-thumbnailer