How to View SVG Thumbnails in Windows Explorer

windows-view-svg-thumbnails-featured

If you’re a graphics designer, illustrator, web designer or have worked extensively with XML code and/or HTML code, you might be familiar with Scalable Vector Graphics. SVGs are vector image types that have been around for nearly eighteen years now, and yet, they don’t seem to have proper Windows support. You cannot open a SVG file in any of Windows’ stock image viewers (like Windows Photo Viewer) nor edit them in applications such as Paint.

Unlike rasterized images or raster graphics which are made up of dots and pixels, vector images are code-based and made up of a collection of mathematically placed curves, dots, shapes and texts. This is why they can be resized without losing quality. Applications like Paint and Windows Photo Viewer were intended to view and edit raster graphics, not vector graphics. Handling vector images can be quite tricky, and even Paint 3D doesn’t have support for most vectors.

While there are several applications you can use to create vector images, sometimes you just need a viewing solution and not a full image editor.

Here are a few ways to view SVG files in Windows.

Using SVG Viewer Extension

The SVG viewer extension for Windows is a shell extension that enables Windows File Explorer to render SVG thumbnails.

There is a 32-bit version and a 64-bit version. Before downloading the extension installation software, make sure you know your computer and operating system architecture. If you’re inclined, you can also view the source code.

1. After you’ve downloaded the necessary setup file, navigate to it in Windows Explorer and run it. Since the publisher is pretty obscure or unknown, Windows will warn you against running it. Click on “Run” and/or “Yes” on the next screen.

2. Once the setup is running, click on the next button on the setup welcome screen.

svg-setup-window

3. Read through the agreement on the next screen, and if you’re happy with it, click on the “I accept the agreement” radio button, then click on the “Next” button.

4. Choose the destination folder. I suggest you leave it as it is and click on next.

svg-setup-window-destination-screen

5. The final screen allows you to review the installation details. If you’re happy with them, you can click on “Install.”

Testing the extension and viewing/organising your files

1. Go to a folder where all or a bunch of your SVGs are located.

svg-setup-file-explorer-view

2. Ensure that you’re viewing them as large or extra-large icons (as opposed to a list or details).

A handy keyboard shortcut for this is Ctrl + Shift + 2.

svg-setup-file-explorer-view-large-icons-min

What you’ll notice about the thumbnails is that for every thumbnail there is another thumbnail embedded inside (thumbnailception). This is my favourite aspect of this shell extension. Not only does it show you the thumbnail of the SVG, but it also shows you the default application used to open it.

Final Word

In the future I hope Microsoft gives native support to SVGs or that someone at least develops a codec that enables us to view SVGs natively. Until then, we can always use this shell extension in unison with our browsers.

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20 comments

  1. THANKS FOR THIS!!!!!

  2. Any reason this didn’t work on my Asus TP550L 64 bit system?

    1. If it does not work immediately, you should remove Thumbnail cache. After that SVG Files will have actual image thumbnail instead of browser icon.

  3. I have thousands of SVG assets for webdev and this is a game changer.
    Lifesaver!!

  4. Doesn’t work on my Win10 laptop. What can be wrong?

  5. Thanks. it works perfectly on windows 10.

  6. I installed the 32-bit version on my old Win10 PC and it worked brilliantly.
    I’ve just upgraded to Win10 x64 and installed the 64-bit version but no joy.
    Any ideas, please?

  7. it is not working on my computer either, I have a brand new 64 bit windows 10 pc and I have tried everything to make it work. But it does work on my husbands older windows 10 laptop. I wish windows would just build something in would make everything so much easier

  8. First question: it worked halfway for me, many files show file pic and small chrome icon, others show black picture with the small chrome icon. how can i get all to work completely?
    Second question: probably a silly question but how do I get my default view be large icons instead of details
    TIA

  9. mary, drew,

    You need to delete the icon cache as instructed in the developer site
    https://github.com/maphew/svg-explorer-extension

    as followings:

    TASKKILL /IM explorer* /F
    DEL “%localappdata%\IconCache.db” /A
    explorer.exe

  10. Sometimes it shows a too small picture, or one with black behind the graphic…
    Why this happens?

  11. It wasn’t working for me (Win 10 64-bit) I had to right click an svg file, go to properties then change the default program to something other than MS Edge.

  12. I thought I’d give this a try, after many frustrating hours trying to organize a few thousand .SVG emoticons. This convenient extension serves now as an essential graphics development tool, that Microsoft continue to ignore, despite repeated requests to include .SVG extension by default in Windows 10, but sadly no! My thanks goes out to Comfort Sibisi for sharing this amazing tool. I can’t highly enough recommend this to all developers and graphics designers using Windows 10 systems.

  13. I have been trying for days to get this to work but nothing. I have many SVG & FCM files which show just white blanks or some have the “e” on and some have the chrome icon but none showing the picture of that file. Any advice please.

  14. Thanks leon. Clearing the icon cache worked after installing the 64 bit version.

  15. It didn`t work for me but I’ve bought last year “Mystic Thumbs” for Windows x64 – it shows ALL files (PSD, AI, EPS, PDF, WORD even .WAV etc) but – NO svg files (!). Then I right-click on “empty” SVG thumbnail in Explorer, go to “Control Panel” (from Mystic View) and it auto-opens non-usable extension to display. I just ENABLE it, click APPLY and = ALL SHOWS AGAIN :)
    p.s. beware – if you use mystic thumbs – to make system useable again, by default EVERYTHING is enabled! So – go to Mystic’s settings, DISABLE all (especially generating icons in LISTER menu – Explorer menu) – system will horrifying slow. And then enable ONE BY ONE extension you want to see… PSD, PSB, AI, EPS, PDF… Disable .WAV (not necessary) and similar (Word) – they just reads 1st page of opened document, “printscreen” it and save as thumbnail, so – no need for it really. Hope this helps :)

  16. This worked just as I hoped it would for my Windows 7 desktop.
    Just downloaded, installed and the .svg files were showing up in Windows Explorer.
    Thank you so much for writing this program. This svg viewer is great!

  17. Thank you so much

  18. This did not work on Windows 10.0 (64bit), even after deleting the icon cache.
    But after a reboot – it does work. So try that if you do not get it to work

  19. Real lifesaver for game development.. thanks alot

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