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Nautilus (the GNOME file manager) is able to display thumbnails for several file types: images, video, audio (holding you mouse over a sound file for a few second), text, pdf, etc.

David D. Lowe has developed a small script for OpenOffice, which not only creates a preview, but it also displays a logo of the application in the bottom right corner (for example, Writer - see screenshot at the end of the post). This initially worked only for OpenOffice.org Writer, but Guiodic modified it so that it can create previews for all of the file types supported by the OpenOffice.org suite.

The installation is very simple for Ubuntu users - all you have to do is download and install a .deb package. But before that, make sure you have imagemagick installed:

sudo apt-get install imagemagick

Then DOWNLOAD and install this .deb package for Ubuntu.

After that, reboot GNOME (log out and log back in) and then open OpenOffice, create a new document and save it to your desktop. You will see something like this:

openoffice thumbnails nautilus
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