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Articles :: Website Thumbnail Creators (Website Snapshot Generators)

Nowadays a lot of webmasters are looking for a website snapshot tool in order to make data presentation more attractive to their visitors. Examples of usage could be target website thumbnail in the search results, on the product details page, etc. Making website thumbnail manually is a routine process, needs much time, and for big sites can lead to hiring someone dedicated mostly to making website thumbnails for their needs. Below we'll provide some suggestions on automating this process.

Automation can be done in few ways.

1. Grab website thumbnail images from other sites.

Some search engines, like http://www.alexa.com, http://www.exalead.com, etc. provide us with website snapshots. Special utility can be written in scripting language (like PHP, Perl, etc.) to grab website image from their search results.

  • cheap solution
  • small server load since you do not need to create thumbnails on your server
  • you become dependent on third-party servers
  • most likely you will only be able to get thumbnail for the top page only. These are not generating thumbnails for subpages.
  • may slow down your pages load if remote server is performing slow
  • some of them can ban your IP for this type of activity. Your tool can use anonymous proxies, but it will slow down page load
  • you will not be able to get website thumbnail if thumbnail was not generated yet on provider's site. This means you will often receive "No thumbnail" images.
  • thumbnails are usually of predefined size which may not feet your needs

2. Use existing website thumbnail creator services/tools.

Some website thumbnail/snapshot creator tools are currently available for free. You should place a block of provided html on your page and it will show thumbnail (hopefully).

The example could be a PHP tool from artViper (http://www.artviper.com/tools.php). It is said that it's a PHP script utilizing a C++ coded DLL to generate website thumbnail.

Another example of free website thumbnail creator service would be http://www.websnapr.com

  • free (only basic functionality)
  • small server load since you do not need to create thumbnails on your server
  • you become dependent on third-party servers (sometimes they can be even down)
  • most likely you will only be able to get thumbnail for the top page only. Mostly these are not generating thumbnails for subpages, need to pay for extra features.
  • may slow down your pages load if remote server is performing slow
  • you will not be able to get website thumbnail if thumbnail was not yet generated on provider's site. This means you will often receive "No thumbnail" images.
  • thumbnails are usually of predefined size which may not feet your needs
  • need to pay for extra features like true color thumbnails, image format, etc.

3. Have your own website thumbnail generator utility.

Solution would be to use/write a custom program which would run on your hosting server, using some browser to render a website thumbnail. The process would look as follows.
  • Custom written tool receives request to generate website thumbnail for site-thumbnail.com
  • It opens browser (as a process invisible to your visitor) on your hosting server, and feeds it with site-thumbnail.com
  • Grabs website screenshot from browser (i.e. it gets website thumbnail), and saves it as thumbnail for later use.

  • you are not dependent on anyone, full control over thumbnail
  • fast, since you do not need to go to another server to get thumbnail
  • relatively cheap solution (think it would be more expensive than solution #1)
  • can create thumbnail for any page you want, topmost, subpage, etc.
  • possibility of making it payed service
  • may cause high server load since tool will create thumbnails on your server
  • may be incompatible with some hostings
  • hosting which allows such type of activity is usually more expensive

Website Image Creator is one of such tools.


admin [anti-spam] artviper.net
August 28, 2006
First of all, our service at artviper.net is not only capable of capturing the index pages, you can even use any variables for any kind of automatically generated pages; furthermore you can specify output size, cropping size of the screen capture ( complete, not only visible area, or specify a size like 800x600 ), quality level, update thumbnail, delay before snapping a page ( useful for snapping flash sites that take some time to load ), and other things.

A word to the speed - we have set up dedicated server(s) that are only supposed to deliver thumbnails. Actually we are serving many professional web catalogues, css galleries and others; if the demand would ever get too high, we'd add more servers to balance the traffic requests.

Surely you are dependent on a 3th party but its still alot better than creating screenshots by hand for lets say 10000 of entries. As our service is free, this is more than you can expect from any other service - all thumbs are created on the fly ( no wait time like alexa of one week and more ) and cached. The user himself can specify when to update the images.

Users with high traffic sites can of course ask us to create a seperate directory for their images and with a short mail, ask if we hand them over. We surely won't deny that, as we only ask for a backlink - and I guess this is not demanded too much.
webshotspro [anti-spam] webshotspro.com
September 1, 2006
dont forget about: http://www.webshotspro.com/

It will generate screenshots from any url and display its status in real-time using ajax.
September 4, 2006
One more free tool to grab snapshots of any website is available at http://bluga.net/webthumb/
September 7, 2006
Is there any source code available for me to set up such a service for myself? It seems all the services that claim to be 'free' either aren't in some form or another, or might not always be free.
October 8, 2006
This thread may help if ImageMagick, Mozilla
, Xvnc (as Virtual X server) available on your hosting
October 8, 2006
This one is in alpha stage. http://browsershots.org

It creates thumbnails in Firefox,
Konqueror, Opera, MSIE, Mozilla, Safari, and other browsers. Great tool to see how your site looks in different browsers.

Maybe someone will create a php script to get thumb from this site after it is generated?
screen grab website
October 12, 2006
There is one more search engine providing thumbs. They also provide a toolbar where you can see any website thumbnail. You do not have to download or even access a Web page to get its thumbnail image. The Girafa Thumbnail Service for Search Engines and Web Directories delivers thumbnail sized images of Web pages for display next to the textual links of these Web pages. http://www.girafa.com/
Web Thumbler
October 17, 2006
Following one is told to be available shortly. Not yet available.

Web Thumbler runs as a simple HTTP web server application on any windows compatible machine. Clients request images of websites using a standard GET request, this means any web enabled scripting or programming language running on any platform can easily connect to the server and receive web sites as images.
WebSnapr - Website thumbnails for your site (built in .NET)
October 22, 2006
This will generate website screenshot (image)

October 25, 2006
This will generate website screenshot and store captures in history!

October 29, 2006
Interesting article. I found this software
PageVisualize Website Image Capture SDK

Does anybody know any other similar software?

November 1, 2006
Girafa actually offers 2000 free images a day, check it out on their website.
November 20, 2006
Girafa ans thumbnail.org are greedy companies charging way too much money.

I have a directory with over a million pages. Least to say if i had 10 images per page what I would end up paying. I spent over 10 k in programming ect for my site. Girafa is not free and charges way too much. After searching around i ma going to spend some bucks and have my own thumnail service and plan on taking these greedy people down.

I am retired and have nothing better to do.

When I have it up and running i will post here and when I say its free it will be.

January 12, 2007
Wow. Bitter much? ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
January 31, 2007
nice work!!! only 1 problem: i'm not capable to run shell_exec on the win 2003 server
admin [anti-spam] artviper.net
May 15, 2007
Now we even have "rotated" thumbnails. Not those boring standards, but rotated in any angle. Add a border, set bg color and other nifty options :) www.design-studios.eu/tools.php
Scott Offord
May 17, 2007
<a href="http://msnsearch.srv.girafa.com/srv/i?s=MSNSEARCH&r=www.zubrag.com" />
May 30, 2007
Thumbnailspro.com is in beta testing, feel free to request your thumbnails using http://thumbnailspro.com/thumb.php?url=http://thumbnailspro.com you must be sure to include http:// in the url or your request will fail! If you add &x=300&y=300 at the end of http://thumbnailspro.com&x=300&y=300 it will resize the thumbnail to any pixel size x,y is specified! If you use &full at end of http://www.yoururl.com&full it will display the full length thumbnail, you'll see, big extra among other thumb sites!

This site is free to use while in beta testing for about the next month, looks kind of generic right now, but works excellent... if you notice any bugs or errors please contact brandon @ blogscrubber@gmail.com.

Thats http://www.thumbnailspro.com
June 27, 2007
http://www.thumbnailspro.com is a mess. Maybe it works in IE, but looks bad in Firefox
admin [anti-spam] thumbnailspro.com
July 31, 2007
thanks for the update about the mess, fixed it...
We have updated the website screenshot code, to request thumbnails now please use the following code below:


you can adjust the size of the thumbnail from 10pixels to 1000pixels using &s=Size check it out http://thumbnailspro.com
rqgolez [anti-spam] msn.com
August 25, 2007
need more info
September 25, 2007
Picoshot - http://picoshot.com is another free thumbnail service. Started using them 2 weeks ago, and so far all good.
December 3, 2007
so Girafa.Com is finished :(((
Which service will be the next?
February 13, 2008
Snapcasa also provides free web page snapshots. Their service offers several different thumbnail sizes and the snapshots always appear really fast without the “Thumbnail Queued” image I used to get from other similar services. I also like how there is no script need to use it just an img tag in my html.
March 29, 2008
Someone expressed interest in running their own service because the "free" services are only free for 100 thumbnails or something ridiculous like that (i.e. only good for testing; not a real site with real traffic).

For that poster, I recommend to check out: http://www.shrinktheweb.com

I've noticed a lot of the "free" thumbnail providers went out of business due to expenses and a lot of pay-for-use providers went out of business for over-charging. The real test is to go with an established business. There's just too many fly-by-nights popping up with free website thumbnail generator services. Even this article links to websitethumbnails.net and that site has been gone for awhile.
lybuhemiquhopybi [anti-spam] tempomail.fr
April 13, 2008
shrinktheweb is nto working most of time, very broken. snapcasa has new site and ipod style thumbs coming soon
May 29, 2008
Snapcasa.com has been working great for me the last three months. I had one issue (urls with tilde character would not be captured) early on but it was resolved within two days. The support is very helpful and friendly. I have an average of 19000 snapcasa website thumbnails being displayed everyday for free with no watermarks or ads.
June 3, 2008
picoshot.com has been down for the last three days. :( Im looking for a new provider.
Thumbnail 3D
June 17, 2008
http://www.thumbs-online.com offers free thumbnails 3d !!! (2 types of perspective, to the left or right) and 3 formats !

There are more than 1,000,000 thumbnails url available ...
June 17, 2008
ShrinkTheWeb has been rock solid for me. I've never seen a faster service and I pound those servers. Plus they have some really neat pro features that give me everything I could ever need for 25 bucks a month. CHEAP. Anyway, I don't know what the guy in .fr was having problems with, but I've never even seen a hiccup in their service and I've talked to their support a number of times, very help and always available. Hope this helps!
July 6, 2008
MyThumbnail.net has been working for a few months for us and we didn't had any problems with it so far. You can specify what size you want the thumbnail and it will be dynamically created. Looks like an interesting thing and it's free of charge.
July 7, 2008
Thank you for your kind words and support ;)

I think it is obvious that you are the proprietor of snapcasa and are looking to bad-mouth our service. I think you will find that tough to do, seeing as how we are the fatest, the most reliable (even more than girafa,amazon,etc), and have never had any downtime --even through a tornado that completely destroyed our off-site data center. Best of luck to you, my friend.


July 13, 2008
I tried to sign up for snapcasa.com and got a runtime error. Lousy programming. I submitted an e-mail to them, but it's Sunday, and I'm one of those people who works on Sunday (sometimes). I've joined another service that actually works.
Datetopia.com Dating Software
August 28, 2008
Trying MyThumbnail.net on http://www.typosdomain.com/ - a little stretched but seems ok for start.
world33 [anti-spam] gmail.com
September 13, 2008
Nice article. I prepared this webpage http://www.4icu.org/ws.htm to see the results of some of the above services for 2 different URLs.

For some reasons I was not able to make work both Snapcasa.com and MyThumbnail.net. Not sure if there is something wrong in the code I included or in their service.
I personally like the flexibility and outcome of ArtViper.com despite being a bit slower compare to others.
What I do not like of most free services are the standard (and really ugly) images when error are encountered or URLs are queing. I would prefer a transparent image or a customised one prepared by the owner of the site. I guess being free services I should not complain.
December 12, 2008
Oh for heaven's sake all these services are crap.

Is there not a single python or perl library/script we can just use locally?
ahmed [anti-spam] mewsoft.com
March 18, 2009
This is a standalone Snpshotter tool: http://www.mewsoft.com/Products/Snapshotter.html , http://www.mewsoft.com/Products/SnapshotterPro.html, and http://www.mewsoft.com/Products/ieSnapshotter.html
April 9, 2009
i uesed thumbshots.org when i was into this
May 4, 2009
i also tried in online but could get working
my url is
May 18, 2009
Don't use websnapr.com !! they randomly show banners instead of snapshots
Rana Awais
July 7, 2009
hello all
i used that script but does not work can u tell me how we used it properly
i also have IE-CAPT.exe
Rana Awais from sangla hill
July 7, 2009
hello all
i used that script but does not work can u tell me how we used it properly
i also have IE-CAPT.exe
and have an error
Rana Awais from sangla hill
July 7, 2009
hello all
i used that script but does not work can u tell me how we used it properly
i also have IE-CAPT.exe
and have an error
September 10, 2009
try http://www.sitethumbshot.com/. it is free and good website.
February 5, 2010
I using Webpage Thumbnail Creator.
More info:
edwin.jesas [anti-spam] gmail.com
March 9, 2010
Thanks for sharing nice and informative post with cool comments.I also know one <a href="http://www.webdevforums.com/free-hosting.html">free hosting</a> site.
esfahanguide [anti-spam] gmail.com
October 3, 2010
hi, my website thumbnail is related to 1 year ago, i realy want to update it But i dont know how to do it
how can i update it to new face
ramasmrblack [anti-spam] gmail.com
October 25, 2010
hi friend ... i want to make thumbnail of the actual picture while upload in my admin page..
December 15, 2010
I am using www.w3snapshot.com for sometime and this tool is great for generating website snapshots.
baggyrain [anti-spam] gmail.com
February 8, 2011
Interesting. and what about <a href="http://www.writers.ph/">online writing jobs</a>
kgaud1111 [anti-spam] hotmail.com
February 10, 2011
Why cant i get my stuff i paid 9.99 for nothing i dont think so
josephfley [anti-spam] hotmail.com
August 18, 2011
You can also try http://megasnaps.com/ where you can get thumbnails for your website and also screenshots of any site and its free.
February 13, 2012
there is also a free website performance and security checker: http://webcheck.me. It provides also free web snapshots.
February 29, 2012
I am using w3snapshot.com. working fine for me.
March 14, 2012
PagePeeker.com has been around for more than 2 years. Our service is fast and reliable.

We offer a free unlimited service (with branding on the images).

Our paid services are quite affordable too. In any case, better prices than the services listed so far in the comments.
March 20, 2012
no pics
May 4, 2012
There is a long list of thumbnail services out there:

info [anti-spam] page2images.com
December 15, 2013
I recommend page2images. Fast, easy and stable.
January 28, 2016
This is a new service,full platform and tons of features.
Free api: http://api.sneak.pw/api.php?width=...&height=...&url=URLHERE&output=raw
November 3, 2016
We just launched https://www.thum.io/

We are the fastest thumbnail generators around because we are the ONLY company to stream the image back as the page is loading. Would love to get feedback!