Tech Tip: Sagethumbs Alternative and better Thumbnail Handler for Windows 11

I have been using SageThumbs as the thumbnail handler in several versions of Microsoft Windows for well over a decade, mostly due to Windows not natively supporting preview thumbnails of RAW, PSD, and several other various image file types. SageThumb would replace the default thumbnail handler, and generate thumbnails for almost every image file type that has ever been created, and display them in File Explorer.

Sadly, SageThumbs hasn’t been updated in years, and seems very buggy and half working in Windows 11.

It would be very slow to generate thumbnails for newly created images in Windows 11, if it ever did at all.

Thumbnails not being generated or rendered.

Thankfully, Windows seems to handle thumbnails for raw image file such as .CR2 just fine natively now, but not many others such as Photoshop’s .PSD format, which will only display the default Photoshop icon in File Explorer.

I searched and searched for a replacement for SageThumbs, and surprising there isn’t much out there. There is one called MysticThumbs, but it cost money, while Sagethumbs was free.

I finally ended up running into a free program called Pictus, which is advertised as Image Viewer, but it also replaces the native thumbnail handler in Windows, allowing for the generation of many image formats such as PSD again, and it works very well.

The image viewer itself is very simple and plain, and has some editing features such as brightness, contracts, rotation…. nothing amazing, but that’s not what we’re wanting it for, so that’s fine.

From Pictus’ Website:

Pictus is a fast, free image viewer. It is designed to be small, fast and just totally sweet. If you are content with your current photo viewer software you can still install Pictus and just let it help Windows Explorer show thumbnails for even more images.

Features

  • Loads images in advance.
  • Designed for responsiveness.
  • Very uncluttered interface.
  • Rotation and basic realtime color adjustment.
  • Supports BMP, GIF, JPG, PCX, PNG, PSD (Adobe Photoshop), PSP (Corel Paint Shop Pro), TGA, TIFF, WBMP, WEBP and XYZ
  • Helps Windows Explorer show thumbnails for those formats.
  • Fullscreen support.
  • Very customizable controls.
  • Handles EXIF orientation data.
  • Supports Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 10.
  • A whopping selection of Swedish and English interface.
  • Free!

What it does well, and what we want it for is to automatically handle the thumbnails in File Explorer. I never had to set anything up, just install, and it started working all on its own.

I haven’t had any issues with it rendering thumbnails for the file formats I use, and have yet had to open the program to adjust settings or anything like that.

I love again being able to see what my PSD files are without having to open them in Photoshop or Bridge.

My Grunch PSD folder with working file thumbnails!

Works great.

You can download both 32bit and 64bit versions here:

Pictus image viewer

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