How to Make Thumbnails on a Mac

Thumbnail images are generally taken for granted -- until you have to make them for large quantities of photos. Resizing photos into tiny squares and saving a separate copy is far more time consuming than you would think. If you're on a Mac, you can use the default image viewer, Preview, to make thumbnails by using the "resize" function. However, if you're interested in a far less time-consuming method, Mac OS X also comes with Automator, which lets you create actions to automatically make thumbnails from your images.

Female student working on net-book after her lectures in University
How to Make Thumbnails on a Mac
credit: GaudiLab/iStock/Getty Images

Step

Open your "Applications" folder on your Mac and double-click the "Automator" icon to open the application. Click "Action" from the startup screen.

Step

Click the "Photos" link in the far left column of the application window. In the second column, click "Create Thumbnail Images," drag it into the workflow window on the right and drop it when you see the green "+" symbol.

Step

Click the tab next to "Size" and choose a maximum pixel size for your thumbnails. Automator lets you create thumbnails with a longest edge of 72, 96 or 128 pixels.

Step

Click the tab next to "Suffix" to apply a custom suffix to your thumbnails. Automator automatically applies the suffix "tn" for "thumbnail" to your photos, but you can change it to anything you like. Adding a suffix to your photos protects your original images by making a copy with a different name.

Step

Select "File" from the top menu bar and then select "Save" to save your action application. Click a destination to save on your Mac, such as your Desktop, and type a name for your action, such as "Thumbnails" into the field. Click the "Save" button to save your application.

Step

Locate and select the image or images from which you want to make thumbnails. Click the "Finder" icon in your Dock to create a new Finder window and locate your saved thumbnail Automator action.

Step

Drag your images and drop them into the action icon to create your thumbnails. You can drop one or multiple images into the action, but if you choose multiple images it is important to allow the application to completely finish the thumbnail action before attempting to open or use both the original and the thumbnail images.