Windows – Cannot Delete Thumbs.db

KB ID 0000683


Thumbs.db is a small hidden system file that gets generated when you view media in a folder, you know when you look at all your MP3 songs and you can see the album cover as a thumbnail? Or you can see what all your photos are as a tiny thumbnail before you open them, well thats what the thumbs.db file is doing. It’s a tiny cache of all that information so next time someone visits this folder it displays those pictures quicker. Well that’s great! But when you try and delete a folder with one in (particularly a folder on another machine) you can see the error below.

Delete Thumbs.db

The file Thumbs.db is a system file if you remove it, Windows or another program may no longer work correctly.

Then it won’t let you delete it, and if you persist, you end up with a folder with just this file in it, that you cant delete.


First Step – Delete the Thumbs.db file

OK, lets solve the initial problem first and get rid of the one thats annoying us at the moment.

1. In Windows 8/2012 whilst in the folder > File > Open command prompt as administrator. (With older versions of windows hold down SHIFT and right click).

Open Command Windows Here

2. Issue the following commands;

attrib -s -h thumbs.db del thumbs.db

Delete Thumbs.db from Command Line

Stop your PC Generating Thumbs.db Files

Option 1

Open Windows Explorer > View Options > Change folder and Search Options > View > Enable ‘always show icons, never thumbnails’ > Apply > OK.

Stop Thumbs.db

Option 2 (Use the Local Policy of the Machine)

1. Press Windows Key+R to launch the run menu > gpedit.msc > OK.

Run Gpedit.msc

2. Navigate to;

User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer {or Windows Explorer}

Locate the ‘Turn off caching of thumbnail pictures’ policy.

GPO Turn off caching of thumbnail pictures

3. Enable > Apply > OK.

GPO Disable Thumbnail Caching

Option 3 (Use the Registry)

You can simply run the following command;

REG ADD “HKCUSoftwarePoliciesMicrosoftWindowsExplorer” /v “DisableThumbsDBOnNetworkFolders” /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f

Or to do it manually,

1. Press Windows Key+R to launch the run menu > gpedit.msc > OK.

Run Regedit

2. Navigate to;

HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software > Microsoft > Windows > CurrentVersion > Explore > Advanced

Create a New DWORD Value.

Registry Thums.db Setting

3. Call it DeleteThumbnailCache and set its value to 1.

Registry DeleteThumbnailCache

Remove all Thumbs.db Files

Finally lets tidy up any remaining thumbs.db files.

Option 1

1. Open Windows Explorer (Windows Key+E) > Right click the drive > Properties > Disk Cleanup.

Disk Cleanup

2. Select Thumbnails > OK.

Delete Thumbnails

Option 2

1. From command line, issue the following commands;

cd del thumbs.db /s /q

Delete Thumbnails From Command Line


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Author: Migrated

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