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I'm suffering from problem that video-thumbnails do not appear in nautilus for some video files. I just found this bug typefinding: some mpeg files are not identified as mpeg files which seems to address the problem. I don't understand the specifics as reported in this bug report, but it sounds like it's a problem with Totem's interaction with Gstreamer.

Since all my videos play fine with VLC (and they don't all play with Totem), I don't use Totem very much. Is there a way to make VLC generate the video-thumbnails instead of having to rely on the buggy gstreamer/totem? I made VLC my default video player but this had no effect on the display of video-thumbnails. If Totem can't play the video file, then I get no thumbnail. But VLC can play the videos fine, so why can't VLC create a video-thumbnail for it?

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There's ffmpegthumbs and ffmpegthumbnailer as alternatives to totem thumbnailer. I don't know of any vlc thumbnailer though.… – medigeek Jun 17 '12 at 7:45
Possible Duplicate… – Mitch Jun 27 '12 at 7:33
@medigeek - as far as I know, ffmpeg is the back-end for vlc. – RobotHumans Jun 27 '12 at 20:46
Does this work Nautilus File Manager >> edit > Preferences >>Preview column >> Other Previewable files >>show thumbnails to always / In Only files for smaller than ~Desired values from drop down menu. – atenz Jun 28 '12 at 8:31
Take a look into this tutoriall on how to use ffmpegthumbnailers to generate video thumbs in nautilus. If you are not satisfied, try to change it to use vlc as the generator regarding this one. – Mohammad Jun 29 '12 at 2:51

First, make sure all the ffmpeg (the back of vlc) components you need are installed:

sudo apt-get install ffmpeg ffmpegthumbnailer gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg

Clear the thumbnail cache, with bleachbit, ubuntu tweak, or this command:

rm ~/.thumbnails/fail/gnome-thumbnail-factory/*
rm ~/.thumbnails/normal/*

Now we need to tell Ubuntu not to use totem, but to use ffmpeg instead.
sudo nano /usr/share/thumbnailers/totem.thumbnailer and replace all the ext in totem.thumbnailer with the following:

[Thumbnailer Entry]
Exec=ffmpegthumbnailer -s %s -i %i -o %o -c png -f -t 10

And exit nautilus:

nautilus -q

Go to you video and see the thumbnail preview appear for all videos.

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This is exactly what I did on my 12.04 box – Jason Jul 15 '12 at 15:03
If this does not work read the complete version here:… – Chirag Aug 18 '12 at 23:53

As of Vivid the only package needed is ffmpegthumbnailer:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install ffmpegthumbnailer

And the lines to be replaced are only the TryExec=[...] and Exec=[...] lines (this is a one-liner to be executed from the command-line to replace both):

sudo sed -i 's/^TryExec=.*$/TryExec=ffmpegthumbnailer/; s/^Exec=.*$/Exec=ffmpegthumbnailer -s %s -i %i -o %o -c png -f -t 10/' /usr/share/thumbnailers/totem.thumbnailer

Then as usual one should close nautilus and remove the ~/.cache/thumbnails folder:

nautilus -q && rm -r ~/.cache/thumbnails
share|improve this answer
Whatever happened to good old sudo sed -i? – muru Apr 29 '15 at 12:27
@muru I didn't know that sed could edit in-place, thanks, updating it – kos Apr 29 '15 at 12:34

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