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Thumbshots are screenshots of online documents such as web page in small thumbnail sizes. Thumbshots help users to visualize web sites or preview links before clicking. The dimension of a thumbshot image (usually under 120 pixels in width by 90 pixels in height) is generally much smaller than the actual online document allowing users to download and view a sample of the document quickly. Thumbshots can be automatically generated by custom software or manually screen captured using popular graphics programs.[1]

Some thumbshot pictures are enhanced with informative icons or text highlights. Normally, thumbshots are found embedded inline beside hyperlinks in a web page to help improve web browser navigation by helping users to locate information faster. Thumbshots are often used to provide visual hints in search engines and web directories where a large number of text links are displayed on a page.

One of the early applications of thumbshots was developed by Jakob Nielsen while working for Sun Microsystems. The application consisted of capturing and then displaying a small image of a webpage that a user had saved as a bookmark in their web browser. At that time, they were referred to as visual bookmarks.

Since then, thumbshots have been used in numerous different applications, ranging from Windows Explorer and a desktop search engine like Copernic to Internet search engines and web directories which provide a thumbshot preview of a webpage alongside search results.

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  1. ^ Muriel Foulonneau, Thomas G. Habing, Timothy W. Cole Automated Capture of Thumbnails and Thumbshots for Use by Metadata Aggregation Services D-Lib Magazine January 2006