Laser-induced damage threshold (LIDT) is an important parameter used to describe the resistance of optical thin films to laser damage. The service life and cost of optical systems depend on the LIDT of the film. Thus, the precision with which the film's LIDT can be measured impacts how well the service life and cost of the system can be predicted. Therefore, it is important to find a precise approach to diagnose a film's laser-induced damage. In this paper, characteristics of the peak sound pressure of laser-induced plasma shock waves from thin films have been systematically investigated experimentally. We found that the peak sound pressure decays rapidly with propagation distance during air transmission. Based on a theoretical analysis of the relationship between the peak sound pressure and the laser damage to a film, we propose a method for diagnosing laser damage using the peak sound pressure of a thin film's shock wave. Our results show that this method can simplify implementation, which will provide a new method with which to diagnose laser damage to thin films.