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PDF Thumbnails

This plugin generates a thumbnail everytime you upload a PDF attachment. Generated thumbnail is an image of the first page in uploaded document.

This plugin hooks into the media manager and generates a thumbnail everytime a PDF is uploaded. Generated thumbnail is an image of the first page in the uploaded document and is named PDFNAME-thumbnail, where PDFNAME is replaced by uploaded document filename.

Generated thumbnails are equivalent to featured images so that common thumbnail functions like get_post_thumbnail_id() can be used for PDF attachments. See Post Thumbnails for information on how you can use thumbnails efficiently.

Integration with the javascript media API is not yet implemented, therefore, you may need to reload the page before you can see generated thumbnail after an upload.


It is possible to display a thumbnail linking to an uploaded PDF using the [pdf_thumbnails_link] shortcode. The following attributes are supported:

Example 1: Display link to PDF with ID = 172 using default thumbnail size

[pdf_thumbnails_link id="172"]

Example 2: Display link to PDF with ID = 172 using thumbnail size (default 150x150)

[pdf_thumbnails_link id="172" size="thumbnail"]

Thanks to mirgcire for providing the first version of the [pdf_thumbnails_link] shortcode.

Developer API

In most cases it should be sufficient to use built-in thumbnail functions from the WordPress API (get_post_thumbnail and similar). If you need to modify the way thumbnails are generated, you can override image generation with the pdf_thumbnails_generate_image_blob filter.

Example 1: Increase resolution for all generated PDF thumbnails

// $blob is the current image blob (defaults to null, can be used for chaining)
// $filename is the PDF filename
add_action('pdf_thumbnails_generate_image_blob', function ($blob, $filename) {
    $imagick = new Imagick();
    return $imagick->getImageBlob();
}, 10, 2);

It is possible to modify generated thumbnail links using the pdf_thumbnails_link_shortcode filter. The following attributes are available:

  • $html - Generated HTML code to be displayed
  • $attachmentId - Sanitized ID of the PDF attachment
  • $size - Sanitized thumbnail size
  • $atts - Shortcode attributes (not sanitized)
  • $content - Shortcode content (not sanitized)

Example 2: Wrap thumbnail link in figure and append caption

add_filter('pdf_thumbnails_link_shortcode', function ($html, $attachmentId, $size, $atts, $content) {
    return "<figure>$html <caption>Click to open image $attachmentId</caption></figure>";
}, 10, 5);
Author Stian Liknes
Contributors stianlik, mirgcire
Tags generator, pdf, thumbnail

PDF Thumbnails requires ImageMagick with GhostScript support. If you are lucky, this is already installed on your system, otherwise, installation can be done with the following steps:

  1. Install ghostscript
  2. Install imagemagick with ghostscript support
  3. Install PHP extension for imagemagick (can use pecl)
  4. Restart web server for changes to take effect

Details may differ based on which operating system you are running, see Support for more resources and tips on how this can be done in Windows, Linux and OSX.

Debian / Ubuntu

sudo apt-get install ghostscript php5-imagick
sudo service apache2 restart

This plugin use semantic versioning, i.e. breaking changes increase the MAJOR version.


  • Support title, target, and download attributes in pdf_thumbnails_link shortcode


  • Support thumbnail links with the pdf_thumbnails_link shortcode
  • Support link customization using the pdf_thumbnails_link_shortcode filter


  • Replaced pdf_thumbnails_before_get_image_blob hook with pdf_thumbnails_generate_image_blob filter


  • Introduced pdf_thumbnails_before_get_image_blob hook


Add generated image to media browser after upload.

Outline of an implementation based on the javascript media API:

// New uploads
wp.Uploader.queue.on('add', function (attachment) {

    if (attachment.subtype !== 'pdf') {

    findThumbnailFor(attachment.ID).then(function (data) {

        // Add attachment thumbnail to browser
        var attachment =
        attachment.fetch().done(function () {
  'library').add(generated attachment)


Filter: ajax_query_attachments_args

Version 2.2.0

Compatible up to: 4.6.3

Last Updated 24 Oct 2016

Date Added: 07 Apr 2014


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