Stopping Windows from Creating Thumbs.db Files

by Barry Dysert
(last updated August 8, 2016)

3

The Thumbs.db file is a system file (typically hidden) that gets created in order to speed up the viewing of graphic thumbnails in a folder. Its existence sometimes poses some problems, though, so many users would just as soon not have the files created at all.

The only way to stop Windows from creating Thumbs.db files is to use the Local Group Policy Editor. This tool is available only on some versions of Windows. To start the editor (and thereby see if you have access to it), use Windows' search capability to look for "gpedit.msc" (without the quotes). If Windows locates it, double-click it to start the editor. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. Local Group Policy Editor.

In the left pane, navigate to User Configuration | Administrative Templates | Windows Components | Windows Explorer. (Actually, it is only Windows Explorer in Windows 7; in Windows 8 and Windows 10 you want to select File Explorer. Microsoft renamed Windows Explorer to File Explorer when it released Windows 8.) Once there the screen displays a number of different configuration settings for the computer. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Turning off Thumbs.db.

If you are using Windows 7, double-click the setting in the right pane titled "Turn Off the Caching of Thumbnails in Hidden Thumbs.db Files." If you are using Windows 8 or Windows 10, double-click the setting titled "Turn Off Caching of Thumbnail Pictures." (You'll need to scroll down a bit to find these settings.) You are then presented with a screen dedicated to the changing of this policy. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3. Changing the Thumbs.db policy.

Note, although it may seem backward, you are enabling the turning off of Thumbs.db, so be sure and click the Enabled radio button. OK your way out, and you won't have to bother with Thumbs.db files any more. (You may need to delete existing Thumbs.db files, but Windows won't create any new ones or make changes to any existing ones.)

 This tip (12716) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 30 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer.  He is currently a senior software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. ...

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What is 7 + 5?

2017-03-12 21:42:03

The Masked Avenger

Thank you! The Microsoft solution of only hiding them was stupid, illiterate and denigrating.


2016-08-10 23:39:22

Steve Mackey

Great tip! Thanks!


2016-08-08 06:26:39

Tom Van Dam

Love this tip. I know it was possible to shut this off in earlier versions but couldn't find it in the later versions. It's always a pain when trying to move or delete a folder and then having to deal with the file is locked message or the prompt are you sure?


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