Photoshop Thumbnails

Photoshop Thumbnails

Windows 7 is the latest and greatest incarnation of Microsoft’s Operating System to frustrate users and infuriate developers around the world. That said, compared to its previous incarnations it’s actually, not that bad. Still it’s a Microsoft product which means lots of “funny” little quirks that get in the way of actually being productive. As a designer, I find Windows 7 inability to view Photoshop .psd files directly in explorer to be absurdly inefficient. In the past, e.g. in Windows XP, you could add the psicon.dll to the C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe\Shell\ folder, register it and everything would be right as rain. But Windows 7 is a very different beast and it has an entirely new image stack, called Windows Imaging Component (WIC), and uses it in Windows explorer to create thumbnails for most image formats.
The upshot of which is, 3rd party developers can create their own WIC codec to support proprietary image formats such as Nikon’s NEF, Canon’s CR2, and Olympus ORF raw formats and Explorer is able to show nice little thumbnails of all those pretty pictures when the corresponding codec is installed.

Unfortunately, there is no “publicly available” codec for the Photoshop PSD format for Windows 7

But, and this is a big but, there is a commercial one you can buy, from Ardfry Imaging that really works, or you can go through rigamarole below and get “some” read not all your .psd files to show up… I tried both and found that the advantages of having every .psd image visible preferable to the annoyance of not seeing the one I was really looking for. But in the interest of being diplomatic, I’ve put together a detailed set of instructions for installing both,and you’ll notice that the commercial solution is a bit shorter. My personal recommendation is to bit the bullet and blow $19.99 on the commercial version from Ardfry.

OK first for the free not so good way to make your .psd files somewhat visible in explorer on windows 7

Apparently, the Microsoft Expression Blend 3 design tool, includes a psd codec, but  you have to buy Microshafts useless Silverlight design too for a minimum of $150 to use it. Fortunately, there are a lot of clever people out there and there is a free trial where you can get your hands on that the codec  hidden deep in the bowels of the Expression Blend Tool. So the upshot of all of this is- there is a PSD thumbnail viewer for Windows 7 but it’s cludgy and your going to have to do a little hacking to get it.

So if your dead set on getting this inferior solution for free, rather than get the good one for $19.99, put your hacking cap on, (preferably a balaclava) and get started…

Step One: Download the Microsoft Expression Blend 3.0 Design Tool Trial Edition: Here

Step Two: Use 7-zip to extract the contents ‘Blend_Trial_en.exe’ file from the above, by right clicking on it and selecting from the 7-zip drop down menu,, Extract to “Blend_Trial_en” (Do not double click and install it.) If you don’t have 7-zip you can get it right: Here It’s free and it’s great.

Step Three: Inside the Blend_Trial_en folder you will find a folder called Setup and inside of that you will find a file call Use the oh so versatile 7-zip to extract the file’s contents using the same technique only this time it will create a folder call, appropriately enough, “BlImp”

Step Four: Copy the PSDCodec.dll from the BlImp folder and put it in an suitable location on your main hard drive, e.g. “C:Program Files\PSDCodec”

Step Five: Now you have to register the codec from the command prompt. To find the command prompt, type cmd in the search bar just above the start menu here:

Note you have to register this as the administrator so just typing cmd in the search bar above the start menu and clicking enter, ain’t gonna cut it. You have to hold down the ctrl key and shift key when you hit enter or it’s not going to work. If you do it right you will get a warning that should look kind of like this:

Step Six: If you have done all of the above you should be looking at something like this:

Now to register the codec from the administrators command prompt, you have to run the following command: regsvr32 “C:\Program Files\PSDCodec\PSDCodec.dll” Type it in exactly like you see here:

Hit enter and your done.  My personal experience with this solution proved to be inconsistent. I could see most of my .psd files but not all. And that drove me to find an even better solution that was much easier to install.

The Right Way to make your .psd files visible in explorer on windows 7

Download the free 15-day trial of the CODEC

Click Install.

Voila, all your .psd files are now visible.

My advice, pay the 20 bucks dude…

You can buy you license at this address: