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November 18th, 2009
November 18th, 2009

Prevent Windows 7 Thumbs.db Files

Save space and clutter by preventing Windows 7 from making thumbs.db files

Contrary to what a lot of online sources are saying Windows 7 DOES automatically make hidden thumbs.db files in any folder where it encounters a picture. This thumbnail cache wastes space and pollutes folders with hidden files that can cause problems in certain circumstances, here is how to prevent them...

It actually took almost an hour of reading to find out how to do this because the easy option that existed in Windows XP (a setting in the folder view preferences) has been removed - who knows why.

(Techie bit to follow)
The only way (or the only way I found) is to make a registry tweak. Actually adding a new key and DWORD value that doesnt exist by default - so you actually need to add it not just tweak it!

The easiest way to do this is to create a .reg script file and merge it in. Copy and paste the following into a text file and save the file as stopthumbsdb.reg:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


Here is an archive containing the .reg file if you prefer to download it rather then create your own. Save this, extract the .reg and double click it to import it into your registry.

Size: 268.00B

You will need to reboot after adding this - it wont remove any existing thumbs.db files but it will prevent creating them.

Why do this?
For me to prevent the files showing up in folders where Im programming or building web sites - these clutter my code and can wind up getting packaged or transferred to a server if I dont watch very carefully.

Im not sure why Microsoft removed the simple option for this in the folder view settings but at least there is a way to prevent it.

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Comments (5 )
I tried double clicking on the file and got the error message:

Cannot import C:UsersNigelDesktopdisablethumbs.reg: The specified file is not a registry script.
You can only import binary registry files from within the registry editor.

I then tried importing it through the registry editor and got the message:
Cannot import C:UsersNigelDesktopdisablethumbs.reg: The specified file is not a registry script.

The file and name is copied below - what am I doing wrong?


You can only import registry files.

November 24th, 2011 22:22:00
Timing is everything. @harpo999 I was just installing a new system and must have been disabling the thumbsdb on it at very close to the same time you were typing this comment! I thought to myself at the time that it might be easier for people if they could just download a .reg file. So Ive added one.

The reason I didnt do that initially is because .reg files can really mess your system if they are malicious so I figured people would want to create their own for safety.

Im not really sure what those error messages refer to - but I know the newly included file does work (since I just used it) Did your file actually contain the text "Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00" at the top? if not that could be the problem.
November 25th, 2011 07:17:59
@harpo999 - instead of left double clicking on the reg file, try right single clicking on it and then select Merge in the context menu that pops up, and that should make it work; at least it did for me, after I tried to make the file myself, and for some odd reason that way did not work for me (I got the same kind of error you described.).  Go figure.  Thankfully the download worked.
July 19th, 2012 20:11:14
@harpo999: The path in this tutorial is wrong, because each forward slash should be a backward slash. Just replace the slashes, save the registry file and implement it by double-clicking on it, reboot your PC, and it should work.

@sbaker: This tutorial needs updating! See above.
October 13th, 2012 11:41:18
It was because the DB cleaning code strips out back slashes as an escape character and the / works on Win7 too but I found a way to show it correctly. The .ZIP has always been correct though.
October 14th, 2012 15:19:37
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