Thumbs.db – What is it and how can I get rid of it?

I have always been annoyed by these files but after having a file-based interface at work crash today because of Thumbs.db existing in the directory, I decided to put an end to it once and for all. Here’s some detail about what Thumbs.db is and how to remove Thumbs.db from the OS’s placement.

These files are created as a thumbnail cache of images and PDF documents as a default setting for XP and Server 2003 operating systems. Additionally, they are created inside network-based shared file systems by Vista and Windows 7 (local thumbnail caching in these Windows versions is done in a user folder rather than the folder containing the images). I’m going to detail how to stop Thumbs.db from creating in both operating systems.

XP and Server 2003:

  • Open Windows Explorer (Windows+E or any of the other methods of launching it)
  • Open the Tools Menu, and select Folder Options.
  • Change to the View tab
  • Select the check box next to “Do no cache thumbnails”
  • Press the “Apply to All Folders” button (note: this will apply all the view settings for the existing folder to all folders)
  • Enjoy the lack of Thumbs.db

Windows 7/Vista:

  • Open Group Policy Editor (Windows+R and type gpedit.msc in the box)
  • On the left panel, drill down under “User Configuration”
  • Open “Administrative Templates” > “Windows Components” > “Windows Explorer”
  • Near the top is the option “Turn off the caching of thumbnails in hidden thumbs.db files”
  • Double click this setting to edit it
  • Select the radio button next to “Enabled” and click the OK button

If you’ve been annoyed by these thumbnail cache files as I have, I hope this helps.