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Fast network image thumbnails in GNOME/Nautilus/Nemo

January 14, 2021

I recently noticed that when browsing a network folder full of photos in Linux using Nautilus or Nemo, the thumbnails are generated much, much slower than they are when browsing the folder from Windows Explorer. I don't know what Windows' secret sauce is for this problem, but I realized that by extracting the thumbnails embedded in the EXIF data of many JPEG files, thumbnail generation performance can be greatly improved since the entire file no longer needs to be transferred over the network in order to generate its thumbnail. And so, jpeg-exif-thumbnailer was born.


The mogrify and exiftool programs must be installed. On Ubuntu and Debian, these may be found in the imagemagick and libimage-exiftool-perl packages.

This thumbnailer has been tested on Ubuntu 20.04, in the Nautilus and Nemo file managers.


Download the archive and extract it. Run ./install, or see the README for instructions on manual installation.

Known issues

If the embedded thumbnails are not large enough, Nemo falls back to reading the entire file to generate a thumbnail. Unfortunately, fast EXIF thumbnails will probably not work properly when Nemo is using a high zoom level.


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