How to check a 3D model by displaying a thumbnail preview



3If the 3D model is not displayed in the thumbnail or preview of the 3D file, it is difficult to confirm what kind of 3D model it is. . .
I want to check the 3D model without opening the viewer for the contents of the 3D file!

If you do not have any settings in Windows 10 Explorer or Mac Finder

Some 3D files can be viewed with thumbnails, but many 3D files cannot be viewed with thumbnails or previews.

To solve this problem, I found several ways to display 3D models in thumbnails and previews without opening the 3D file.

It runs commands to display 3D files. This can be achieved by installing a plugin, etc.

  • Otherwise, the only way is to open a 3D viewer or use 3D modeling software.
  • I have verified and confirmed that some 3D files are able to display 3D models and some are not. (Currently 2020/04/03)
  • This time, I will show you how to display a 3D model as a thumbnail or preview without opening the 3D file.
  • The first half covers the Windows environment, and the second half covers the Mac environment. That’s because the methods are very different.

Difference in language


First, this article defines the meaning of each word as follows.

  • Thumbnail: An image displayed on Explorer.
  • Preview: The ability to simulate and check on-screen the results of a 3D model’s output.
  • Viewer: Software for viewing 3D models.
  • File manager: Software that manages files.

List of various ways to check 3D models

We will explain the recommended confirmation method for each 3D file extension.

  1. View preview or thumbnail to check←Recommended methods introduced in this article
  2. Check with viewer ← Normal method

Windows operating environment & applications used


Shows the software and viewers used on Windows.

  • Windows 10 Home & Pro 64bit

Execute a command

  • .blend → Blender 2.80~2.82a
  • .max → 3dsMax

Install the software

  • .stl → Marlin3DprinterTool

File manager

  • .3ds → 3D Photo Browser


  • .fbx → FBX Review
  • .skp → SketchUp Viewer


.blend is a standard file for Blender.

Download —

If Blender is installed, you can display thumbnails by running the following command.

  1. Run Command Prompt as administrator. Navigate to the location of Blender.exe.
  2. blender -R
  3. File extension registered for all users. If it appears, it is a success.
1. C:\WINDOWS\system32>cd ../
2. C:\Windows>cd ../
3. C:\>cd "C:\Program Files\Blender Foundation\Blender 2.81"
4. C:\Program Files\Blender Foundation\Blender 2.81>blender -R
Command screen
.blend display result

The following site was helpful for displaying .blend thumbnails.

Displaying thumbnails of .Blend files [Blender] – Oblivion summary


You can display thumbnails of .stl by installing software called Marlin3DprinterTool.

Release First release where the STL thumbnail is separate from Marlin3DprinterTool · cabbagecreek/STL-thumbnail · GitHub

Details on how to install Marlin3DprinterTool can be found on the following website.

Easily display STL files as thumbnails in Explorer | Mikan Partners

.stl display result

The thumbnail of the 3D model on Explorer is displayed in blue, but it’s better than not knowing what it looks like.


.max is a standard file for 3dsMax. You can enable it if 3ds Max is already installed.

3ds Max | 3D modeling, animation, and rendering software | Autodesk

You can also enable thumbnail display by executing this command.

1. Run Command Prompt as administrator and enter the following command:

C:\WINDOWS\system32>regsvr32 "C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max 2020\MaxThumbnailShellExt.dll"

2. If the message “DllRegisterServer for MaxThumbnailShellExt.dll succeeded.” appears, it is a success.

.max display result

Failure example


Loading module “X:\3dsmax root folder\MaxThumbnailShellExt.dll” failed to load. Verify that the binary is stored in the specified path, or check for problems with the binary or dependent .DLL files.

This error message means that the path to MaxThumbnailShellExt.dll is incorrect.

Please specify the correct path for MaxThumbnailShellExt.dll.

The following site was helpful for how to display .max thumbnails.


  • .3ds can be viewed with a file manager called 3D Photo Browser.
  • This is not software that displays thumbnails on Explorer.

3D Photo Browser Light – Free Download – Tucows Downloads

.3ds display results

It was nice to be able to display thumbnails of 3D models using 3D Photo Browser, but I personally found it difficult to use.


I haven’t found a way to display thumbnails of fbx in Explorer, so I use FBX Review.

FBX Review

It is loaded in Explorer, but cannot be displayed.

.fbx display result


I haven’t found a way to display thumbnails, so I’ll use SketchUp Viewer.

Free Online 3D Modeling | 3D Warehouse Models | SketchUp

Things I tried to display thumbnails of 3D files

Other ways to display 3D files include using viewers and file managers other than those listed above.

I have only tried these out for experience.

  • GLC player
    • A 3D viewer that supports COLLADA (.dae), .3dsxml, .obj, 3ds, .stl, .off, and .coff formats.
    • GLC_Player — Home
  • DDS Thumbnail Viewer
  • Meshlab
    • A viewer that supports 3D files such as 3D scans and 3D prints.
    • MeshLab

I tried using the following software, but I gave up because I didn’t know if it would display 3D thumbnails. – SageThumbs

Mac operating environment & applications used


From here, we will show you the QuickLook plug-ins and viewers required by extension to thumbnail 3D models on Mac. – .dae .obj .stl are 3D files that can be previewed by default on Mac.

  • .blend .gltf .vrm .pmx can be previewed with the QuickLook plugin

macOS Mojave QuickLook plugin – .blend→ vicro/BlenderQuickLook v0.1

  • .glTF
    • → toshiks / Quicklook Plugin v1.1
    • → magicien / GLTFQuickLook
  • .vrm → magicien/VRMQuickLook
  • .pmx → magicien / MikuMikuDanceQuickLook

Viewer – .fbx, .3ds→ FBX Review

  • .skp→ SketchUp Viewer
  • .glTF→ donmccurdy / glTF Viewer
  • .vrm→ yukimochi / VRM viewer
  • .max→ AutoDesk Viewer

.qlgenerator(QuickLook plugin)

The official name is Quick Look Preview Generator. or Apple Quicklook Plug-in. It’s called. By having a .qlgenerator file, you can display thumbnails in the Finder preview.

How to install .qlgenerator

I will explain using vicro/BlenderQuickLook v0.1 as an example.

1. Download qlgenerator.

2. Open the .dmg file and there will be a zip folder.


3. Extract the zip folder and copy ○○.qlgenerator.

4. Paste in Library > QuickLook.


5. Reset QuickLook in the terminal.

qlmanage -r

qlmanage resetting quicklookd

If this message is returned, it is successful. Now qlgenerator will be reflected. Due to incompatibility between the macOS version and qlgenerator, a shader error may occur where the 3D model preview is displayed in magenta (pink).


  • vicro / BlenderQuickLook v0.1

Release BlenderQuickLook v0.1 · vicro/BlenderQuickLook · GitHub

Before introduction
vicro / BlenderQuickLook v0.1

If you cannot preview .blend in BlenderQuickLook v0.1, please try one of the following methods.

  • もう一度、ターミナルでqlmanage -r qlmanage -r を実行します。
  • Restart your PC.


  • toshiks / Quicklook Plugin v1.1 / glTF-quicklook
    • glTF-quicklook was able to be confirmed with Mojave.

Release Quicklook Plugin v1.1 · toshiks/glTF-quicklook · GitHub

  • magicien / GLTFQuickLook v2.2
    • GLTFQuickLook v2.2 displayed the thumbnail in pink on macOS Mojave.

Release v0.2.2 · magicien/GLTFQuickLook · GitHub

  • donmccurdy / glTF Viewer
    • This is donmccurdy’s glTF online viewer.
    • By dragging and dropping glTF bin texture (source folder and texture folder) onto the page, you can display the 3D model with texture.

    glTF Viewer

Before introductiontoshiks / Quicklook Plugin v1.1 / glTF-quicklookmagicien / GLTFQuickLook v2.2donmccurdy/glTF Viewer


  • magicien / VRMQuickLook

Release v0.1.1 · magicien/VRMQuickLook · GitHub

  • yukimochi / VRM viewer
    • This is a VRM online viewer created by yukimochi.

VRM Viewer

Before introductionmagicien / VRMQuickLookyukimochi / VRM viewer


  • magicien / MikuMikuDanceQuickLook
    • This is a QuickLook plugin that displays thumbnails of magicien’s pmx.

Release v0.0.1 · magicien/MikuMikuDanceQuickLook · GitHub

Before introductionmagicien / MikuMikuDanceQuickLook

.fbx, .3ds

In my research, I couldn’t find a way to display thumbnails of FBX or 3DS. Therefore, I will use Autodesk FBX Review, which you may be familiar with.

FBX Review

Memo: Where is fbx Quick Look..? What I tried to preview fbx

fbx is the file I use most among 3D files. Here is what I tried through trial and error to display fbx as thumbnails. I found **Clay Viewer** while searching for software that can display fbx.

[Releases · pissang/clay-viewer · GitHub](

.fbx animations are smoother than FBX Viewer.



It looks different depending on the software. Next, I found and used various online 3D viewers such as **FBX, glTF, and GLB 3D Viewer**.

[FBX, glTF, GLB 3D Viewer – Chrome Web Store](

I personally do not recommend **FBX, glTF, GLB 3D Viewer** due to their capacity limitations.

– The ability to preview fbx with thumbnails is not currently available (2019/12/1).
– **I have no choice but to check the model by dragging and dropping it onto the FBX Viewer. **


.maxはサムネイルを表示する方法が見つからなかったため、Autodesk ViewerというAutodeskのオンライン3Dモデルビューアを使用します。

Autodesk Viewer | Free Online File Viewer


  • You can use 25GB of storage for free.
  • Most 2D and 3D formats are supported.
  • You will need to create an account and upload.
  • There will be some processing and it will take a few minutes to reflect.
  • Can be private or shared.
  • Uploaded files are saved to Autodesk Drive.
  • The expiry date of the file is one month, and you can extend it for free by pressing the extension button.
  • You can upload multiple files and folders.
  • It works with Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and cloud storage.
  • I used the app for about 15 minutes and found it to be relatively smooth.
.max Autodesk ViewerDrag and drop


I couldn’t find a way to display thumbnails for .skp, so I use SketchUp Viewer, just like on Windows. Download SketchUp Viewer | SketchUp


The following shows whether thumbnails are displayed in the Windows Explorer preview. Thumbnail display compatibility table (Windows)

.3mf .objFile size small. Visible by default.
.stl .blend .max .3ds .dae×Not supported by defaultCan be displayed by customizing
.fbx .gltf×It is loaded but cannot be displayed.
.obj×If the file size is large, the loading will end midway.
  • Explorer previews do not seem to display thumbnails unless the file size is small.
  • The thumbnails that can be displayed vary depending on your PC and file size. (Example: .blend .max)

Mac Mac also shows support for thumbnail display on the Finder preview. Thumbnail display compatibility table (Mac)

.dae .obj .stlVisible by default.
.blend .gltf .vrm .pmx×Can be displayed in preview with QuickLook plugin


We introduced a method to display 3D files in thumbnails and previews without having to open them each time. I was able to display thumbnails successfully using various methods, so I would like to thank the creators of the viewer and quicklook plugins.


Discussion about displaying 3D model thumbnails on Windows Explorer

3D model used: © Niconi Solid-chan

koshishirai / 3D Modeler

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