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Increase Size of Windows Vista Taskbar Previews

It only took two days for somebody to come through on my offer of a bounty. Reader Shawn wrote in with a link to Vista Thumbnail Sizer, a utility written by Andreas Verhoeven, that performs exactly the features I was looking for.

Vista Thumbnail Sizer will let you increase the size of your taskbar preview windows to any size that you’d like. You can even add a fade-in animation.

Here’s the default Vista preview size:

image

And here’s what it looks like if you crank them up really big. You can make them even bigger if you want. The great thing about this is that Thumbnail Resizer uses the compositing engine built into Vista, so if you are playing a video, the video plays in the thumbnail just like the default ones do.

image

Installation

All you have to do is download, unzip, and launch the application, set the size that you’d like, and the effect takes place immediately.

Note: Because this utility mucks with internal stuff in explorer.exe, use this at your own risk.

image

There are some requirements for this software to work:

  • Software must be started for it to work. (more below)
  • Must be run with the same privileges as explorer.exe. (Meaning you can’t run it as administrator)
  • DWM (Aero) must be running. The taskbar previews only work with Aero enabled, and so they won’t work in Vista Basic at all.

If you want this effect to happen every time you restart your computer, you’ll have to copy the utility into a permanent folder somewhere, and then create a shortcut to avethumnailresizer.exe in your startup menu with the -hide switch. To quickly get to the startup folder, open up explorer and paste the following into the address bar.

%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

Create your shortcut however you’d like (right-click and drag works best for me). Once you’ve got your shortcut created, open up the properties page and then add the -hide to the end of the Target line, as shown here:

image

Now when your system restarts, you should always have the previews. If you want to change the size, just launch the utility again and change them.

There are a couple of command line parameters accepted by the Resizer as well:

-kill Kills the application
-show Brings up the dialog window (default)
-nohook Starts the dialog but doesn’t add the effects
-hide Start up but don’t display the dialog

Download Vista Thumbnail Resizer from How-To Geek (local copy since the source is now dead)

Download Vista Thumbnail Resizer Source Code from How-To Geek

I’m quite pleased with the results of this experiment… the community responded immediately. I got at least 20 emails within a day of posting the bounty. I may put up more bounties in the future.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/14/07

Comments (40)

  1. Dean

    thanks

  2. rb

    ahh thank you so much!! beyond useful.

  3. Shawn Dean

    Yes, great program… even though I prefer *small*, large is better in this case… thus can actually read the thumbnails! :)

  4. Richard

    Nice find. Thanks. Please keep them coming.

  5. Bob

    Christmas in July. Thanks!

    (And if, like me, you really, REALLY like this utility, consider
    making a PayPal donation on Ave’s website for all his effort.)

  6. steve

    great prog. it really works !!! trying adding the -hide to the shortcut but get error that the name in the target box is not valid. the shortcut works fine. what am i doing wrong??

  7. The Geek

    I agree with Bob, everybody should absolutely consider donating if you like this utility.

    And steve, you probably added the -hide parameter inside the quotes if your shortcut has them?

  8. Ave

    To make auto-starting the utility on logon a bit easier, I’ve added an extra option in the application to do this: http://mpj.tomaatnet.nl/vista .

  9. steve

    added the -hide outside the quotes.still get same error

  10. steve

    new auto-starting utility yields a side by side error. whats that all about???

  11. Will

    great tweak, but i have to reload it each time i start or wake my computer. i followed all of your steps. is it the program or my computer?

  12. nm

    can you add a feature to shrink the font size in the taskbar? the taskbar font size is way too huge for me and i’ve got everything set to as small as possible. thanks,

  13. NunjaBusiness

    too bad you can’t dynamically adjust the size with your mousewheel like I can on my XP machine.
    can’t remember the name of the app but it was free. gives the vista-style thumbnail taskbar … but more easily adjustable

  14. Nomo

    Mhh, is it me or it has to come with an executable (.exe) somewhere, because I just downloaded it and it’s not there. Perhaps is there another way to install it?

  15. Joe

    I tried this out earlier today, and it’s nice, but returning after lock or sleep, and it does not re-initialize… Except for that, I would have kept it… I also got the impression that it was affecting performance on my machine, but not sure.

  16. Tarrask

    Work on Vista64 now :)

  17. The Geek

    @Tarrask

    Thanks for the note… article updated!

  18. Nerd Phil

    Love it!! Thanks

  19. MrStaggs

    i recently downloaded it and tried it, and i have to say… it’s one of those things you never knew you wanted, but once you found it, you can’t do without. Also, the package comes with an autostarter, so I don’t think you have to make a shortcut anymore.

  20. tediber

    the -kill switch seems to be useless

  21. limp

    The -hide switch simply does not work. The dialog box pops up every single time the computer is restarted.

  22. Will

    limp, have you tried unchecking the box next to “always ask before opening this file”, in the dialog?

  23. limp

    Will — yes. The dialog box I am referring to is the Thumbnail Sizer dialog box where the window size is set. This dialog box pops up, and the window size needs to be reset, every single time the computer is restarted. This is a major annoyance, and it is clearly not the way the developer intended his program to operate.

  24. Will

    I also use a utility called Quick Start Up (http://www.glarysoft.com/quick-startup/) and I manually add Thumbnail Sizer to the program. I use the hide switch too. I don’t know why Microsoft didn’t give the option to resize to begin with.

  25. Dave

    This is great but is there a way to add a ‘pin’ button so say you mouse over pin it and it stays open after moving the mouse off so for example you’re browsing the net and have a game running in window mode behind your browser but want to keep an eye on what’s happening in game? I believe I found something like this some time ago but haven’t been able to find it.

    Very nice piece of software though, I look forward to using it.

  26. D3tronix

    Hey is there anything just like this which lets you clap the thumbnail in place? so that i can watch live tv and browse the net?

  27. Dave

    Actually after asking about something similar D3tronix I came across a super nice program that not only resizes the previews but let’s you move them all over, pin them, and quite a bit more. google for

    video in picture for vista

    it should turn up pretty easily.

  28. jd2066

    That is a nice program.
    I’ve been wanting something to be able to watch a YouTube video in a small Window without the rest of the page and this program does just that.
    Here in a link to save others time finding it: http://videoinpicture.wikidot.com/

  29. D3tronix

    Hey thanks dave =) its doing just what i want it to.

  30. Dave

    No problem, I fell in love with that app fast too, I use it when running games in windows, they sit in a tiny preview over my browser and a simple click to get right back in the fray of action. Very handy indeed, especially when you want to watch a movie but get bored during long talk scenes.

  31. Steveo

    So does anyone know what happened to this? I used to have it saved but I’ve lost it and I want it back. Does anyone have it? The website for Ave’s apps no longer exists. :(

  32. The Geek

    @Steveo

    I’ve uploaded a copy of the utility, including the source code since it’s an open-source application and should be distributed with both.

  33. Steveo

    How cool are you right now? Wow I think that is just awesome of you. Thanks. I never knew I was really that much of a geek but HEYYY. Nothin’ wrong wid dat yo. Thank you again.

  34. RJS

    Unfortunately this won’t work with Display Fusion’s secondary monitor taskbar…..or will it???

  35. Kane

    Is there anything like this for Windows 7?

  36. Achal

    You could use this to get the Windows 7 Aero peek option in a way by making the thumbnail really big! :)

  37. avinash

    please respondand elaborate
    in ave’s thumbnail sizer what are the various steps involved

  38. Anonymous

    i downloaded this but i dont really like the application but i cant seem to delete it with it coming bk :/ can someone please help

  39. ComputerAmateaur-aur?

    Wont work on my x64 Windows 7 Ultimate, run from extracted folder on my desktop (i.e. %user%/desktop/thefoldername/program.exe)

    It makes explorer.exe crash, and wont work again before you log off and on again, even if you close the thumbnailsizer program.

    Just a tip.

  40. thor50

    CA-aur… This way works for me. I put the 64bit folder in ‘documents’ folder. Then made a shortcut to my Quick Launch, from vistathumbnailsizer icon in that folder. I turned off the animation, to conserve memory, and discovered I like it better that way anyway. I have 4GB installed memory, with page file set the same. I didn’t bother trying to make it start automatically, as I’m an amateur too. Good luck.

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