Thumbnails from 3D models, icons, and cursors

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3D model, icon, and cursor thumbnail extractor

Windows Explorer is able to display files and folders using various methods. One of these methods uses thumbnails. Windows Explorer can extract thumbnails from images, animations, web pages, and some Microsoft Office files. Fortunately the Windows Explorer is able to work with 3rd party plug-ins and display thumbnails for virtually any document type. The extension available on this page allows thumbnail extraction for all document types supported by RW tools, including images, icons, static and animated cursors, and supported 3D formats (U3D, R3I, and 3DS).

Thumbnails of 3D models in Windows 2000 Explorer.
Windows Explorer offers multiple methods for files visualization. This extension cooperates with Explorer and allows it to display thumbnails of supported 3D file formats.

Thumbnails of 3D models when opening or saving files in application.
The thumbnails visualization mode is available also when opening or saving files in RealWorld products.

How to install

  1. Download the installer below and launch it.
  2. Near the end of the installation a dialog appears. This dialog list the supported file types. Check the file types that should be handled by this extension.
  3. You can later find this dialog in your Control Panel and you can enable and disable the handled file types at will. If you install an application and associate it with one of the supported file types, it is likely that you will need to re-enable the thumbnail extractor afterwards, because the association may invalidate the assigned thumbnail extractor.

Important notes

  • The handled file types apply to your own user account only.
  • It is recommended to remove the handled file types using the RealWorld Thumbnails Control Panel before uninstallation.
  • You will need to switch to the appropriate view mode in Explorer or open/save dialog to actually see the thumbnails. You can do this for example from folder's context menu.
  • The rendering device used to create thumbnails can be configured using control panel or in RealWorld Icon Editor. Click "Tools"->"Manage Output Devices..." and select the one called "ShellExtension". This device will appear after at least one thumbnail was generated.
  • The extension may interfere with your file operations. You may be unable to delete or overwrite a file while it is being used to create a thumbnail.
  • Great care was taken when designing this extension not to compromise the stability of Windows Explorer. Only tiny portion of the task is performed inside Windows Explorer and the rest is delegated to a separate process that cannot affect Windows Explorer at all.
  • Use this extension at your own risk. The authors are not responsible for any damage caused by this software.

Known problems

Windows Vista caches the thumbnails much more aggressively than XP (and it also uses them in many more places). Vista will not generate the thumbnails for files if it already thinks is has the thumbnails. After installation and configuration you may notice that the thumbnails are not created for old files, but they appear if you create copy of the old file (though only for the copy). XP had the "Refresh Thumbnail" command in context menu to resolve these cases, but Vista lacks it. You can use the Disk Cleanup tool in Start Menu\Programs\Accessories\System Tools to remove the old cached images.


Version 3.0 of ReaWolrd Thumbnails is capable of displaying thumbnails created in RealWorld applications up to version 2010.1.

Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7: RWThumbnails32.msi

Windows x64 editions: RWThumbnails64.msi

You must pick the correct version for your Windows. 64-bit will only work on 64-bit systems and the same is true vor 32-bit systems.

Recent comments

- show all comments
user icon Vlasta site administrator on November 26th 2014

Try switching the view mode in Control panels from "Category" to "Small icon".

user icon Anonymous on November 26th 2014

Since the installation did not produce for me (windows 7, 64 bit,RWThumbnails64.msi) a control panel item, I went to the installation path, located RWThumbnailsProxy.dll, made a copy of it in the same directory, but changed the file extension to .cpl (instead of .dll). I then executed the newly created .cpl file and configured the thumbnails extractor and they seem to work. But that was the only way I could get them to work on Windows 7 64 bit! Hope it helps for anyone trying to get it working on Windows 7 64 bit...

@Vlasta - Thank you for your suggestion! I always have my Control panel in Large icons mode and tried switching it to small icons - but the control panel item is still missing. As I've just posted - the only thing that worked for me was going to the installation directory and manually executing renamed .dll to .cpl. Thanks!

user icon Vlasta site administrator on November 26th 2014

OK, thanks for the info.

user icon Anonymous on December 5th 2014

Same in here, no thumbnails, no control panel item.
The above (copy, rename etc.) doesn't help.
Os is Win8.1/64.

Any other ideas?

Thank you.

user icon Anonymous on September 11th 2015

Any news on this?
Thumbnails instead the RW icon for *.cur files were nice...

user icon LICKYicon registered user on December 14th 2015

I have Windows 10. Would this work??? :-(

user icon Anonymous on April 21st 2019

Thanks you i needed this for xp. sorry for me bad english

user icon Anonymous on February 9th

I Miss the Thumbnails

Same problem for me, I tried the RWThumbnailsProxy.cpl trick and it worked partly: it allowed me to open the "Configure Thumbnail Extractor" dialog. But when I selected .ani and .cur in the dialog and pressed OK, nothing happened in the explorer, only the same RW cursor :-(

Please Fix This Issue

user icon Anonymous on March 29th

:-o XD

user icon Vlazteron registered user on September 7th

AVG Antivirus Scans this as a virus. Is this a virus?

user icon Anonymous
I wish there were...