How can I restore Acrobat icon thumbnails?

Posted on 2009-02-24
Last Modified: 2013-11-12
I recently did a wipe of my machine and reinstalled Vista Ultimate SP1 (32 bit). Previously with Vista I had thumbnail preview of Acrobat PDF icons. However, after doing the new install of Vista and then installing Acrobat 9 Professional (Entire CS4 suite actually), I just have this odd looking icon for all my PDFs (I say odd, because it doesn't really look like an Acrobat icon without the thumbnail preview normally does).

I have uninstalled and reinstalled Acrobat 9 Professional, and I have also installed Acrobat Reader 9 and set that to be the default PDF viewer. I have also gone to advanced system settings and made sure performance was set to "Adjust to best appearance."

Despite all of these things, they're still not showing up properly. Not a huge deal, except that I work with PDFs extensively, and it's really annoying! Other icons, for graphics for example, do show up with the proper thumbnail icon.

Any help would be appreciated.

Question by:jalant

    Assisted Solution

    Try this:
    Folder Options in the Control Panel. Under the View Tab, uncheck box next to "Always show icons, not thumbnails


    People have had success running this
    "Disk Cleanup" tool.
    Make sure the checkbox next to Thumbnails in the "Files to delete" list is checked.
    Click "Ok" to let it do the job removing all thumbnails.
    Open the folder that contains PDF files, and view it in the Icon View. All the thumbnails should be automatically recreated.

    If you have Reader installed, which I wouldnt suspect you do, try uninstalling that too.

    Author Comment

    Thanks for your suggestions.

    I should have mentioned I had already checked, unchecked, rechecked the Folder Options "Always show icons" box a number of times--and that didn't work.

    I have also run the disk cleanup tool as suggested, but that didn't seem to have any effect.

    I have completely uninstalled Acrobat 9 and also manually gone through the registry and deleted any orphan references to Acrobat. Restarted a few times, and have now reinstalled Acrobat. This time I did a separate Acrobat 9 Pro install (as opposed to the full CS4 install) to see if that made any difference, which it did not.

    Any other ideas?  Thanks!
    LVL 2

    Assisted Solution

    My assumption is that at some point the Garbled folders in your C:\Windows\Installer directory were cleaned up (aka deleted). I know of people that have actually thought these are temp folders for the installer and deleted them...

    If thats not your situation, this fix should help you out anyway by changing the icon type for the pdf file using the Windows Registry Editor back to the right one.

    WARNING: If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious
    problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. I cannot
    guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor
    incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

    I've located the directory where PDFFile_8.dll is by pressing F3 when in 'windows explorer' while in my windows directory. For me the path is:
    Remember this, you'll need it in a sec...

    ---- Find the key you'll have to manipulate

    Here is the full instructions on how I located the information, it doesn't actually mean you have to do it. Its just a good lesson. Scroll down to a recap on the key you'll need to add.

    1. Click on Start, and in the Start Search field type "regedit.exe" and then
    press Enter.
    2. If prompted by User Account Control, provide consent or provide the
    appropriate credentials.

    Next, you will need to locate the file extension you wish to modify. For
    instance, if you wish to change the file type icon for .PDF files, locate
    HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.pdf in the left hand navigation pane. Now, you will see
    that it is defined as type "AcroExch.Document", so we must locate "AcroExch.Document" in the
    left hand pane to change the icon.

    We must keep tracking it down until we locate the DefaultIcon key so under the AcroExch.Document string you will notice that it points you to AcroExch.Document.7

    Now we find AcroExch.Document.7 on the left hand side (it should be right below it)

    ---- Now change the value that we have located

    At this point you should have located HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\AcroExch.Document.7. Below this
    key you will notice a subkey with a name of "DefaultIcon". Select this key,
    and in the right hand pane you will see a string or expandable string value
    named "(Default)". Right click on this string value and click on modify in
    order to change the path to the icon.
    Because you are trying to change it to the default icon we'll insert the icon you located above and add a ",0" to the end of it to tell the system that its the first icon in the file. Mine looked like this:

    Once you have finished, close the Windows Registry Editor and log off of
    Windows and back in for the changes to take effect.

    I hope this works for you... Its likely that this isn't the cleanest method to getting it done, but it should work for you. Best of luck...

    Author Comment

    Hi Pironic,

    Thank you for your taking the time to provide all the info.

    I followed your instructions, and while the icon path was correct (although my GUID was different in the installer directory) I noticed that the default .pdf was not set to AcroExch.Document, even though it WAS selected as the default application for .pdf docs.

    Anyway, I changed that to AcroExch.Document as it should be--which didn't help. I also deleted both the .pdf and the AcroExch.Document and AcroExch.Document.7 keys and then did a repair on Acrobat. It re-created the keys (correctly), but still these goofy icons.

    I know this sounds silly that I'm concerned about the icons, but it's very disconcerting. And, as you can see from my posted image above, the icon isn't even the "normal" nonthumbnail icon that has the PDF on it in the upper left.

    Any other thoughts?

    LVL 2

    Expert Comment

    I did some more investigation on this one today for you, but found this info on the adobe forums... (you're not going to like it)  [ ]

    Known issue - adobe pro or CS3 products remove dll files because they claim instability and that it sometimes prevents adobe products saving properly. Adobe blame microsoft. microsoft probably don't care as it works for everyone else and figure that adobe shuold change their code. but adobe have a product called bridge and so would prefer you used that. in the end the small users and organisations lose and no one cares

    So unfortunetly I dont think there is a solution at this point :(
    Is downgrading an option? o_0

    Accepted Solution

    Thanks to everyone for their help. Pironic, I don't think the link you sent me to in the adobeforums was the case here, as the icons worked perfectly before I reinstalled Vista.

    I'm happy to report that my icons have been restored. What I did was first completely remove all of the Adobe CS4 applications. I then used Registry First Aid to search for an completely delete any references to Adobe and Acrobat and PDF. Rebooted, and reinstalled, and all is now well.

    Not sure what caused the issue in first place, but happy it's back to normal!


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