Thumbs.db is a file used to store thumbnail images for the folder it resides in. This file speeds up the preview of images in Windows Explorer.
Recently, I was asked to remove and prevent thumbs.db from being used. From Windows XP to Windows 7 the task is different. This will walk you through disabling cache of thumbnails in Windows XP. Windows Vista and Windows 7’s guide will show you how to also disable thumbnails, but still allow you to view preview media files.
Note:Thumbs.db is a hidden file, so you will not be able to see it. To view the hidden file, we need to “Show hidden files and folders”.
1.Click the “ ” button.
2. Find and click on the “Control Panel”.
3. Click on the “Folder Options” icon.
4. Select the “View” tab.
5. Select the “Show hidden files and folders” option.
Result: Now you will be able to see those Thumbs.db for deletion.
6. Check the option “Do not cache thumbnails”.
Result: Now Windows will not cache thumbnails.
7. Click “Apply” and then “OK”.
You are now free to delete any thumbs.db’s on your machine.
For quicker removal, use “Disk Cleanup”.
Windows Vista and Windows 7:
1. Click the Vista Start button .
2. Click on the “Control Panel” .
3. Double click on “Folder Options” (I’m using “Classic View”).
4. Select the “View” tab.
6. (optional) Also in “ Advanced settings” select the option “ Show hidden files and folders”.
Note: You do not need to do this option to disable thumbnails.
7. Now use “Disk Cleanup” to remove all of the thumbnails from the machine.
8. Next in “Windows Explorer” type in the address bar “%LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows”.
9. Right click on the “Explorer” folder and click “Properties”.
10. In the folder’s properties window select the “Security” tab and click the “Advanced” button.
11. On the “Permissions” tab click the “Edit…” button.
12. Uncheck the “Include inheritable permissions from the object’s parent”.
13. Click the “Remove” button in the windows security box that pops-up.
14. On the “Permissions” tab click "the “OK” button.
15. Select “Yes” for the “Windows Security” pop-up box.
16. Close all open windows and go back to “Folder Options” in the “Control Panel”.
17. Uncheck the “Always show icons, never thumbnails”.
You can also just run a .reg file that will disable the setting of thumbnails through the registry. Always use caution when modifying your registry. Damage to your registry can make your computer a giant paper weight with just a few clicks. The advantage is it is quicker for changing settings. Be sure to backup your registry before making any changes.
Note: Other ways to disable thumbnails which include using local group policy and through other display options.