One of the things that has frustrated me about Adobe Acrobat is that I frequently want to open all of my PDF files with thumbnails displayed by default. Alas it is not as simple as that. I can understand why Adobe does this because there will be some people who want to force their PDF files to open up a certain way for EVERYONE they send it to or make it available. I get it. We can’t have it both ways. Aside for using the F4 key for Windows users each time you open a PDF there is another solution, although not the answer some users want to hear (myself included).

So as of Acrobat DC version 15, you can not automatically show thumbnails when opening a PDF unless the file was previously saved with settings to open it with thumbnails displayed.  You can however batch process a folder of PDF files or simply a selected list of them and apply an action script that will set the thumbnails to display when you open those files.  Note: the action must have a ‘save’ element at the end since you will need to save the PDF with the settings.

Copy the following Acrobat Action script to a text file and rename file to DefaultThumbnails.sequ (or whatever you want to call it, just make the extension .sequ) and change the ‘myFilePath’ in the script to the directory you want the actions applied to when you run the script (or simply import as is into Acrobat and then edit the action from there).

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<Workflow xmlns="" title="DefaultThumbnails" description="Show the document thumbnails by default." majorVersion="1" minorVersion="0">
<Sources defaultCommand="WorkflowPlaybackSelectFolder">
<Folder path="/myFilePath"/>
<Group label="Untitled">
<Command name="OpenInfo" pauseBefore="false" promptUser="false">
<Item name="CenterWindow" type="boolean" value="false"/>
<Item name="DisplayDocTitle" type="boolean" value="false"/>
<Item name="FitWindow" type="boolean" value="false"/>
<Item name="FullScreen" type="boolean" value="false"/>
<Item name="HideMenubar" type="boolean" value="false"/>
<Item name="HideToolbar" type="boolean" value="false"/>
<Item name="HideWindowUI" type="boolean" value="false"/>
<Items name="LeaveAsIs">
<Item name="CenterWindow" type="boolean" value="true"/>
<Item name="DisplayDocTitle" type="boolean" value="true"/>
<Item name="FitWindow" type="boolean" value="true"/>
<Item name="FullScreen" type="boolean" value="true"/>
<Item name="HideMenubar" type="boolean" value="true"/>
<Item name="HideToolbar" type="boolean" value="true"/>
<Item name="HideWindowUI" type="boolean" value="true"/>
<Item name="Magnification" type="boolean" value="true"/>
<Item name="OpenAction" type="boolean" value="true"/>
<Item name="PageLayout" type="boolean" value="true"/>
<Item name="PageMode" type="boolean" value="false"/>
<Item name="PageNum" type="boolean" value="true"/>
<Item name="Magnification" type="text" value="100%"/>
<Item name="PageLayout" type="integer" value="0"/>
<Item name="PageMode" type="integer" value="2"/>
<Item name="PageNum" type="text" value="1"/>
<Item name="ResetDest" type="boolean" value="false"/>
<Command name="WorkflowPlaybackSaveFiles" pauseBefore="false" promptUser="false">
<Item name="AddToBaseName" type="boolean" value="false"/>
<Item name="DocSaveDestType" type="string" value="WorkflowPlaybackSave"/>
<Item name="DontOverwrite" type="boolean" value="true"/>
<Item name="EmbedIndex" type="boolean" value="false"/>
<Item name="FileVariation" type="integer" value="0"/>
<Item name="HandleOutput" type="boolean" value="true"/>
<Item name="InsertAfterBaseName" type="text" value=""/>
<Item name="InsertBeforeBaseName" type="text" value=""/>
<Item name="NumbericNaming" type="boolean" value="false"/>
<Item name="OptimizePDF" type="boolean" value="true"/>
<Item name="PresetName" type="text" value="Standard"/>
<Item name="RunPDFOptimizer" type="boolean" value="false"/>