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BlenderExtender: .blend Preview Plugin for Windows Explorer


blenderextender1pngBrowse your Blender files with the Explorer with this auto-preview generator plugin.

Kurt writes:

Have you ever been browsing around on your computer and thought “Jimminy Gee Willakers, I wish I could see thumbnails for all those 3d files”?

No? Oh well.

But just in case you ever do, I've written a cool little windows plugin that uses Blender to auto-generate thumbnails for all your 3d files! Remember tho, this is beta-quality software, so backup everything, especially your registry, before installing!!

  • Platform: Windows
  • Status: Beta. I cannot stress enough BACKUP YOUR REGIRSTRY BEFORE INSTALLING!!!
  • Requirements: Blender 2.48+, Python 2.5


About the Author

Avatar image for Bart Veldhuizen
Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. That brings me back to the question, why no one has created a blender plugin for IE and firefox browsers, playing blender files using the game engine !?

  2. what if you have a complex scene like the peach project. will it need to render a whole scene to display the thumnail.

  3. I think this is going to very useful for a lot of people, particularly those who are just starting to use blender.

    Good work.

  4. I get an error message "Error whilst running 'pythonw.exe'"....

    I have got both blender 2.49 and python 2.5 and python is configured to work correctly with blender (system path is set)

  5. Cool script!

    hey @NICE. Someone has allready thought about that. Somewhere at blenderartist, someone once made a plugin that enabled 'flash'-like games for websites, made with blender. cant remeber who tho...

  6. Hi super !
    but why in IE (bad browser anyway...and not open source?)
    and why into a browser ? better in the software, no ?

    anyway, it's a good news !

  7. have the blender developers considered saving a preview image in the file so that it can be accessible to DAM systems and browsers? auto-rendering everything isn't always such a great (fast) idea, although it does work.

  8. A long time ago there was an officially supported blender plugin for web browsers. However, nobody wanted to maintain it and therefore it kinda died. There are efforts to resurrect it (look at the blender developers mailinglist) but I don't know how successful they are.

  9. A plugin like this should not render the image (there are very complex scenes and there are scenes not meant to be rendered). I think it would be much more useful if it renders with openGL the largest 3D window of the blend's UI, without textures. It would be fast enough for a folder full of complex scenes to be useful.

  10. Great idea!!
    The blender file format in the future could contain a little thumbnail..or, maybe, a blender file could be tar.gzed with the thumbnail (i.e: the last rendering) , in order to save the rendering time..

  11. Looks like a nice idea, but thumbnail in windows is the devil. Since the time in 2k where windows wasn't letting me disconnect properly usb drives because it was keeping a handle on some video files for generating thumbnails, I've always totally disabled this troublesome feature.

    I think it would be preferable to have a small blender file explorer, like acdsee for images.

  12. TheHeadlessSourceMan on

    Q. What happens with big scenes?
    A. First, this renders only a tiny 96x96 image and also turns down OSA and other goodies so it's really pretty fast. If the scene still can't render within 30 seconds (this time can be increased by adding like "killRenderAfter=45" to the .ini file), a safety watchdog will shut down Blender and you'll get the "dead monkey" thumbnail for that file. (OpenGL is a great idea. Maybe v2. ;) )

    Q. What's up with the pythonw.exe error?
    A. I haven't seen that problem specifically, but I do know that this thing requires the the the actual python25 install. If you have (for instance) Cygwin installed also and that "pythonw.exe" is being found instead, badness results. Let me know what u find out.

  13. Sounds interesting, but... what makes me ponder is the warning to "so backup everything, especially your registry" : I'm not sure about how serious you are with that, since backup/restore of the complete windows registry isn't really a trivial task (and for restoring an old registry better have you windows repair/install cd ready...).
    Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't expect a shell extension to wreak complete havoc on my registry, but such a warning from the developer isn't somehing I want to ignore lightly either ;)

  14. > First, this renders only a tiny 96×96 image and also turns down OSA and other goodies so it's really pretty fast.

    Nice, do you think you could share some blender command line expertise with the ResourceSpace DAM community so that a quicker rendering technique might be used for our server-side blend previews?

    Right now it's pretty simple-minded:
    blender -b file.blend -F JPEG -o target.jpg -f 1

  15. This could be useful...I think I'll grab myself a copy right about now...
    BTW why does Windows still insist upon having such a finicky, cryptic registry? I understand the logic in having key system parameters logged in a single area, but it just doesn't do its job (but neither do many other things in Windows either)

  16. Slightly related:

    Is there a possibility to show a preview (in Blender) that shows file B while you are working on file A?

    Consider the following scenario: I'm working on file A (like a room) and I'd like to insert all kinds of furniture and other stuff. I have a folder containing all kinds of stuff, but the filename doesn't give enough info about the actual contents of the file. I'd like to be able to see some kind of preview when I select a file before adding it to my "room" in file A.

    Any ideas / suggestions?


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