How do I create a jpeg thumbnail of a pdf file?
November 28, 2006 1:32 PM   Subscribe

How do I create a jpeg thumbnail of a pdf file?

For some ungodly reason, a potential client wants jpeg thumbnails of some pdfs I created. I currently only have access to Adobe Reader (I'm a raggedy freelance writer so I can't really purchase any stuff at the moment). Is there some freeware out there that will permit me to create thumbnails? I found this, but it creates thumbnail previews in the document, whereas I need separate files that I can upload to their site. Thanks for any help.
posted by melissa may to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Please clarify, for, as I understand it, you want a thumbnail (illegible) image of a text-only document. If this is just a crazy client request for exactly as I describe, it may be easiest to just look at your documents in thumbnail view (in adobe it is one of the viewing options) hit Print Screen to copy the image, crop and save it in MSPaint (or whatever bundled graphics program your OS uses).

If they just want graphical links to the items, you could probably use the same (or make 5 or so) Lorem ipsum text shrunk down in the same program. Or just copy the Adobe document icon.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 1:48 PM on November 28, 2006

What OS do you use? Apple's Automator has a "Create Thumbnail Images" action. If it isn't flexible enough, you can chain several Automator actions to do what you want, i.e. Copy Finder Items -> Rename Finder Items -> Change Type of Images -> Scale Images.
posted by RichardP at 1:50 PM on November 28, 2006

How many documents do you have to create thumbnails for? If it is a small amount I would consider simply taking screenshots and then using image editing software to create the JPEGs.
posted by bwilms at 1:50 PM on November 28, 2006

You need Ghostscript. I use the GPL Version. I extracted the correct Ghostscript command for creating png thumbnails for a pdf out of a program called thumbpdf. It's used by pdflatex to create thumbnails inside a pdf document. I use it under Linux, but I think it can be used the same way on different OSes.
$ gs -dTextAlphaBits=4 -dGraphicsAlphaBits=4 -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -sDEVICE=png16m -r9.06531732174037 -sOutputFile=thb%d.png -c "save pop currentglobal true setglobal false/product where{pop product(Ghostscript)search{pop pop pop revision 600 ge{pop true}if}{pop}ifelse}if{/pdfdict where{pop pdfdict begin/pdfshowpage_setpage[pdfdict/pdfshowpage_setpage get{dup type/nametype eq{dup/OutputFile eq{pop/AntiRotationHack}{dup/MediaBox eq revision 650 ge and{/THB.CropHack{1 index/CropBox pget{2 index exch/MediaBox exch put}if}def/THB.CropHack cvx}if}ifelse}if}forall]cvx def end}if}if setglobal" -f document.pdf

posted by donut at 2:06 PM on November 28, 2006 [2 favorites]

If you're on windows, I would suggest downloading the free and awesome IrfanView. You can easily do screen captures (so you would do one page at a time) of individual pages in the Acrobat Reader, save as jpegs and resize to your hearts content.

To do a capture, open Irfanview, type C, switch to Acrobat, click Ctrl + F11. Bam, you have a screen cap in Irfanview. Draw a box around what you need, crop (ctrl + y) and resize (ctrl + R). Then save as JPEG
posted by special-k at 2:11 PM on November 28, 2006

I haven't used it, but the PDFBox library comes with a command-line utility called PDFToImage that will output to PNG or JPEG. PDFBox is written in Java, so it should be cross-platform. The documentation doesn't appear to offer any control over output image size, but that's a comparatively minor problem.
posted by gsteff at 2:13 PM on November 28, 2006

Another alternative to IrfanView is Gadwin Printscreen. You can configure it to capture a selected area, the whole screen, the active window or the client window and you can tell it to create files for each cap in a specific directory.

So set it to save files and cap the active window, open all the PDFs in reader and just control-tab through them and press PRINTSCREEN each time. Unless you're dealing with hundreds of them it should be quick.
posted by phearlez at 2:36 PM on November 28, 2006

Response by poster: Please clarify, for, as I understand it, you want a thumbnail (illegible) image of a text-only document. If this is just a crazy client request for exactly as I describe...

It is exactly as you describe. Unfathomable, truly.

So sincere thanks for the help everyone, and sorry about the lack of OS info -- it's craptastic Windows, c'est la vie. I'll give your various methods a try.
posted by melissa may at 3:07 PM on November 28, 2006

For more precise control over the thumbnail, you could screenshot a full-size acrobat display of the pdf and then manually reduce that to your desired thumbnail size.
posted by cortex at 3:53 PM on November 28, 2006

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