How to Create Thumbnails of Office Document Formats in Ubuntu?

Nautilus the default file manager in Ubuntu can create previews or thumbnails of a lot of file types (audio/video/pictures/PDF etc) thanks to other individual applications & their Nautilus integration.

This includes text files too but it can’t generate thumbnails out of office document formats such as the Open Document format (.odt extension, which is shared by both LibreOffice and OpenOffice) and Proprietary Microsoft office files such as .Doc and .Docx and their variants such as Presentations/Excel, etc (Calc/Draw/Impress in Libre).

But in thanks to a utility called Thumbnailer, in Ubuntu (including GNU/Linux) Nautilus can create awesome looking thumbnails!. Although according to the developer this should let us generate thumbnails of files used in MS Office too but at the moment it doesn’t seem to work though.

But according to the release note page for the 0.5 version, it says …

“Support for Microsoft Office files without in-built thumbnails has been removed”

Not entirely sure what that means but it could be the problem or bug perhaps.

Well as Sid says, “better than nothing!” ;-)…

You can install OOO-Thumbnailer in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 10.10 and 10.04 by typing the below command in your Terminal window.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:flimm/ooo-thumbnailer

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install ooo-thumbnailer

It works with both Openoffice and LibreOffice formats just fine in Nautilus but as said… doesn’t seem to work with .doc/.docx extension. Though I didn’t have to but after installing if Nautilus failed to generate thumbnails, then you might wanna restart it by using the below command as well which should do the trick.

nautilus -q

Just out of curiosity I ran it in command-line on a failed MS Word (.doc) extension and got the below error.

error: The metadata does not have a thumbnail property

So perhaps there’s a property in MS Office that a user has to “enable” otherwise the file maybe blocking the thumbnail creation process (just a guess though).

Anyhow, most won’t be needing it but you can use it in terminal to manually create a thumbnail of a document (in PNG format) if you like too. For that you’ll have to use it as below

ooo-thumbnailer new.odt mythumbnailer.png 128

Replace the “new.odt” with your file name & extension + “mythumbnailer” with your desired output PNG file. So hopefully the developer will fix the bug to let MS formats works under it.

I should be thankful for the Long-Haired Andrew at Webupd8 🙂 for the app news. Enjoy.

An RHCE, 'Linux' user with 14+ years of experience. Extreme lover of Linux and FOSS. He is passionate to test every Linux distribution & compare with the previous release to write in-depth articles to help the FOSS community.

1 thought on “How to Create Thumbnails of Office Document Formats in Ubuntu?”

  1. Yes – The recent versions 2007/2010/2013 MS Office Word have an option in the save menu (a tick box) to save a thumbnail which is then used in explorer/file explorer.


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