SolidWorks Thumbnails Graphics Do Not Display

Before I move forward to discuss on this post, I would like to put some light on the title  “SolidWorks Thumbnail Images in Window Explorer

What I mean by this?

SolidWorks thumbnail images/graphic in Window explorer is nothing but images of SolidWorks files (Part, Drawings and Assemblies) that you can see in the Window explorer.

The advantage is that one can make out about the geometry, shape , etc. of the files by looking by looking at these thumbnail images/graphic. Here are few examples:

How to get these?

Go to Tools > Option > System Options > General and select the option “Show thumbnail graphics in Windows Explorer“.  You also have to set Views setting to Thumbnail in Windows explorer

What does the SolidWorks setting does?

Displays a thumbnail graphic/image instead of an icon in Windows explorer for each SolidWorks file. The thumbnail graphics/images are also used in the Open and Save As dialog boxes.

Everything seems to be good and set, so what is the problem?.

I can’t see my SolidWorks thumbnail images/graphic in Window explorer despite all the settings I have mentioned above.

So what I do now?

I had a similar situation and then while searching I found this useful info by Greg Mitchell on SolidWorks forums. Thanks you Greg for sharing this. This information is also avaiable in SolidWorks knowledge base Solution ID: S-023818

What was the cause?

The culprit is a file called sldwinshellextu.dll. If that file is not registered in windows or it’s registration fails becuase of any reason, then your Icons will not show up.

Issue found, now how to fix it?

You need to register the file through your Windows DOS prompt.  Here is method to do that:

Make sure you are logged in as Administrator as this method might not works. Also make sure no instance of SolidWorks is running.

1. Click on Start > Run.

2. Type CMD or cmd.

3. The DOS prompt window will open up.

4. Type cd\ and press enter. This will let us connect to C drive.

5.  Now we need to connect to SolidWorks installation folder. In most cases it will be “C:\Program Files\SolidWorks ” or “C:\Program Files\SolidWorks Corp\SolidWorks” (without quotes).

6. Type cd C:\Program Files\SolidWorks Corp\SolidWorks (this is path in my machine) and press enter.

7. We will get connected to SolidWorks installation folder.

8. Now type regsvr32 sldwinshellextu.dll /u and press enter.

9 A message (shown below) will pop up. Simply click on OK to continue.

10. Now type regsvr32 sldwinshellextu.dll and press enter.

11. Same message will prompt as in step 9. Simply click on OK to continue.

12. Type Exit and press enter to close the DOS prompt window.

13. Check the SolidWorks thumbnail images/graphics in Windows explorer are back to life.

OK, that was a long story and long method of setting the things back. Hey wait, don’t get upset as I have an easy and quick solution for you. Just download this bat file. Unzip and run it. Click OK on the prompted message and you’re done. Just make sure you set the SolidWorks installation folder. To set this,

1. Right click on bat file and select Edit.

2. The bat file will open in the text file editor.

3 Just edit the SolidWorks installation folder in case yours is different than used in this file.

4. Save and close the file.

5. Now your file is ready to use and set the things.

That was a Happy ending 🙂

21 thoughts on “SolidWorks Thumbnails Graphics Do Not Display

  1. sunil dv

    Its not working for me.. It’s sowing error call Tha module sldwinshellextu.dll failed to load.and make sure binary is stored at the specified path or debug it to check for problem with the binary or dependent .dll files. The specified module could not found ….. This is the error message I got from cmd 😞 pls help me

    1. Deepak Gupta Post author

      Then search for that file under the installation files and copy to this location : C:\Program Files\Common Files\SOLIDWORKS Shared

      And then register this DLL by typing this in the CMD window: regsvr32 “C:\Program Files\Common Files\SOLIDWORKS Shared\sldwinshellextu.dll”

  2. kreisi

    works well for admin account. But at User Account the thumbnails are still wrong?
    What can I do?
    thanks a lot

  3. docolli

    Somehow the formatting with spaces have been deleted on my files list, so I try again with points:

    …\Solidworks Preview\
    …|– sldthumbnailprovider.dll
    …|– sldwinshellextu.dll
    …|– lang\
    ……|– english\
    ………|– sldwinshellextresu.dll
    ……|– german\
    ………|– sldwinshellextresu.dll

    1. vaibhav

      its work but in new version of solidworks 2015 that ” sldwinshellextresu.dll’ files location is different

      and its C:\Program Files\Common Files\SOLIDWORKS Shared”
      so make change in your directory


  4. docolli

    I had the task to bring the thumbnail preview of SWX-files to PCs with Win7x64 without a Solidworks installation and came to your good description.

    I not only needed to register “sldwinshellextu.dll”, but also “sldthumbnailprovider.dll” to get it work. And I also needed “sldwinshellextresu.dll” from each of the subfolders withing the “lang” folger (“english” and “german” for my german Solidworks). Otherwise the registration of “sldwinshellextu.dll” failed with an error.

    So for a PC without Solidworks you need to do the following:

    1) Make a folder (I used “C:\Program Files\Common Files\Solidworks Preview”) and copy the files from the installation location of a “Solidworks PC” in the corresponding location & subfolders:

    …\Solidworks Preview\
    |– sldthumbnailprovider.dll
    |– sldwinshellextu.dll
    |– lang\
    |– english\
    |– sldwinshellextresu.dll
    |– german\
    |– sldwinshellextresu.dll

    2) Open an adminstrative command prompt
    3) cd to your folder (I used “C:\Program Files\Common Files\Solidworks Preview”)
    4) regsvr32.exe sldthumbnailprovider.dll
    5) regsvr32.exe sldwinshellextu.dll

    Now you should be able to see the preview of SWX-files.

    PS: This is for a Solidworks 2011 SP4.0 Installation. Newer versions might have different files and dependencies. I will give an update, when we have migrated to Solidworks 2014 this year.


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