Restore SOLIDWORKS Thumbnails in Windows

Article by Erick Vega on Aug 24, 2017

You know this icon. We all do, and when it shows up, it can be hard to quickly find the one part you are looking for. Why does it happen? Beats me, but we know Windows and .dll files don’t like to play nice sometimes, especially with Microsoft updates and antiviruses on the prowl. Fortunately, we have a couple of ways to try to coax them into playing together again.

solidworks thumbnail restore

Let’s begin with SOLIDWORKS by going to Tools > Options > System options > General > Show thumbnail graphics in Windows explorer. Make sure this option is checked. If unchecked, you will have to save the files without thumbnails for the icons to be refreshed.

Show thumbnail graphics in Windows Explorer

If the option is already checked, let’s try to persuade Windows. Let’s check the folder options.

For Windows 7:

SOLIDWORKS Thumbnail Restore Windows 7

Click the Windows button and type and select “Folder options” and go to the “View” tab. Here we want to uncheck the option “Always show icons, never thumbnails”. Scroll down and check the option “Show preview handlers in preview pane”. See the picture below.

Show previous handlers preview pane

For Windows 10:

Click the Windows button, type and select “Show hidden folders and options” and go to the “View” tab. Here we want to uncheck the option “Always show icons, never thumbnails”. Scroll down and check the option “Show preview handlers in preview pane”. See the same picture for Windows 7 above. If this step does not restore the thumbnails, follow to the next.

For Windows 7 and 10:

Click the Windows button, type “Adjust the appearance and performance of windows” and select the matching result. In the “Visual Effects” tab check the option ”Show thumbnails instead of icons”.

Show thumbnails instead of icons windows 7 and 10

If none of these settings fixed the problem then it is time to bring out the big guns - but beware, you must have access to the Default Administrator account on your computer for the following steps to work. If you do not , then you will need to get your IT team involved.

For Window 7 and 10:

Click the windows button and type “cmd”, right-click the result, and select “Run as Administrator”. This will launch the command prompt.

Run as Administrator Windows 7 and 10

Here we will try to register the .dll files that may have not registered properly during installation. Keep in mind that it is possible for these files to become unregistered after windows updates or SOLIDWORKS updates.

Now for the fun part. Type the following in the command prompt, keep in mind these pathnames are the default paths. If you changed the name of the SOLIDWORKS installation folder or selected a path different from default please use the correct path.

Command Prompt

** Make sure you include the quotations **

1- regsvr32 "C:\Program Files\Common Files\SOLIDWORKS shared\swdocumentmgr.dll"
2- regsvr32 "C:\Program Files\Common Files\SOLIDWORKS Shared\sldwinshellextu.dll /u" 
3- regsvr32 "C:\Program Files\Common Files\SOLIDWORKS Shared\sldwinshellextu.dll" 
4- regsvr32 "C:\Program Files\SOLIDWORKS Corp 20XX\SOLIDWORKS\sldthumbnailprovider.dll"

The successful messages will look like this:

Sucessful message

You will get a message telling you if the .dll file was successfully registered or not. If you do not have administrative permissions these commands are likely to fail. Once again, get a hold of your IT team if this is the case.

You will want to restart your computer for these changes to take full effect. Your thumbnails should now show the parts or assemblies themselves instead of that pesky icon.

Thanks for reading this quick tip from GoEngineer!

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About Erick Vega

Erick has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and 6 has years of Microcontroller Automation experience. You can find him venturing out climbing into the Wasatch mountains, tinkering around with salvaged electronics or trying to program a Windows application that probably didn’t need to exist.

View all posts by Erick Vega

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