Disable Network Thumbs.db Generation

Posted: May 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Tips/Tutorials
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When I got Vista, I noticed something ‘annoying’ when I was browsing some folders over the network/lan. A thumbs.db file was generated into any folder that included images inside, either from hovering over one with the mouse, or browsing it. This totally messes up your folder list if you need to arrange by the modified date instead of by name, and your folders are weeks/months/years old. This will be a ‘brute force’ method, blocking both network and local thumbs.db generation, without gpedit.msc or any reg keys. Windows 7 probably might work too.

Go here: C:\Users\YOURNAME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows (you can also paste %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows into your explorer address bar)

Go to Organize>Folder and Search Options>View (or Tools>Folder Options>View in the address bar, push Alt if your address bar is hidden)

(If you are hiding any files, enable the ‘Show hidden files and folders‘ option AND turn OFF ‘Hide protected operating system files‘.)

Enable ‘Always show icons, never thumbnails‘ for now. This will be so you can delete the existing local thumbs.db files. Go into the Explorer folder (so you’re in ‘…\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer‘). Delete everything in here, which should be a bunch of thumbs.db files pertaining to different pixel sizes.

Open the Properties of this Explorer folder and go to Security>Advanced>Permissions>Edit. Turn off ‘Include inheritable permissions from this object’s parent‘, then ‘Remove‘ on the dialogue that comes up. It should say that there are no groups or users with access to this object. Hit Apply/OK and keep OK’ing till you’re done with the properties of the Explorer folder.

Now you can re-enable your thumbnails by unticking ‘Always show icons, never thumbnails’ and go back to your preferred hidden files options as well.

That’s it. Thumbs.db is permanently blocked from being generated anywhere. The OS is blocked from generating them on each folder of a network share that you’re browsing, and also from taking up local space. According to a reply in this thread, they had some ‘save/save as’ issues in Word 2003, but I’m not seeing any issue on Word 2007 or any other application. If you have an issue, post a comment here, and we could probably adjust the permissions to work around that while still blocking thumbs.db generation.

Last Modified: August 29th, 2011


10 Comments on “Disable Network Thumbs.db Generation”

  1. 1 Mysterious Assassin With No Affilliation to the Author said at 1:37 pm on May 10th, 2010:

    Finally! A way to kill those things.

  2. 2 Name said at 11:01 pm on May 11th, 2010:

    Why the fucking balls do ‘thumbs.db’ exist in the first place?

  3. 3 kn00tcn said at 10:06 pm on May 12th, 2010:

    To cache thumbnails of images/videos in a folder, so that the next time you open it, it doesn’t take as long since it’s not scanning the files again.

  4. 4 Doc. Caliban said at 11:57 am on August 4th, 2010:

    Hello, thanks for the info!

    I am running Win7 Pro 64, and I am not able to delete the files inside the Explorer folder. Safe mode didn’t work either. It just give the files open in another program error.


  5. 5 kn00tcn said at 3:21 pm on August 4th, 2010:


    did you check ‘Always show icons, never thumbnails’?

  6. 6 Name said at 4:19 pm on August 4th, 2010:

    I did, yes. I’ve gotten through your instructions to the point where I’m supposed to remove those files, but not unlike the thumbs.db files we’re trying to get rid of in the first place, I get the ‘file is open’ error when I try to delete the contents of the Explorer folder.

    Thanks for the quick reply, BTW.

  7. 7 Name said at 4:21 pm on August 4th, 2010:

    Ah ha! Rebooting after making the changes allowed me to delete them. Odd since I still could not delete them in Safe Mode, but, whatever. :-)

    Thanks again!

  8. 8 kn00tcn said at 12:42 pm on August 6th, 2010:


    Good that it worked, I’ve had cases where I’m trying to delete a temporarily made folder and it gets stuck ‘in use’ even though it’s empty, with a restart fixing that.

  9. 9 anonymous said at 7:56 am on December 20th, 2013:

    they also exist so that the NSA have an idea what kind of pictures you put on your network share without needing access to the actual picture files.

  10. 10 kn00tcn said at 6:14 pm on December 21st, 2013:

    @anonymous, but the NSA still needs access to your computer… my network shares are simply other windows machines, it makes no difference, there’s no conspiracy, you should be more concerned with why the ShellMRU location in registry is encrypted (it holds the recently used apps/files that show up in the start menu)

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