Thumbs.db is a system file that stores previews of the images you save to a folder. It’s automatically generated by Windows XP and is supposed to be hidden, but sometimes it can turn up and get in your way.
There’s a file called Thumbs.db in almost every one of the folders on my computer. What is it and how do I get rid of it?
This is a cache that contains copies of each of the tiny preview images generated for files in that folder. By saving these previews instead of constantly regenerating them, the system saves resources and the images load up quickly the next time you browse that folder.
Despite the fact that Thumbs.db is a hidden system file, it annoys people because it tends to show up in places where it’s not wanted. Many times you’ll try to zip up a folder full of images and e-mail them to a friend or upload them to an FTP site, and Thumbs.db goes along for the ride.
Yes, you can safely get rid of these files. Doing so will not damage your computer. It will simply force Windows to regenerate all the preview images the next time you browse a folder in thumbnail or filmstrip mode. They can be deleted like any other file: drag them to the Recycle Bin or right click and choose “Delete”.
Yes, thumbnail caches are categorized as system files and therefore can be hidden from view.
- Click Start
- Click Computer/My Computer
- Click Tools in the menu bar.
- Go to the View tab.
- In the “Advanced Settings” box, scroll to “Hidden Files and Folders”.
- Choose “Do not show hidden files and folders”.
If you don’t mind long load times when rendering an Explorer thumbnail or filmstrip view full of many (or large) files, carrying out the following steps will prevent your computer from generating future Thumbs.db files.
- Click Start
- Double-click Control Panel
- Double-click Folder Options
- The “Folder Options” window will open.
- Click on the View tab
- Check off the circle next to Do not cache thumbnails
- Click the OK button
Let’s say you share your Mac’s files with a Windows user over a network. Depending on their settings, their Windows PC may generate tons of Thumbs.db files throughout your Mac as the user browses through. It can be frustrating to remove them one by one, so use spotlight to delete them all in one fell swoop:
- Click the Spotlight Search icon in the menu bar (or press CMD-Space).
- Click “Thumbs.db”
- Click “Show All in Finder”
- Order the results by the “Name” column so all the thumbnail caches are listed consecutively.
- Click once on the first Thumbs.db file.
- Hold down shift and click once on the last one.
- All the files in between will be highlighted.
- Drag them to the trash.
- Repeat for Desktop.ini