We have several network shares which store various photographs taken by our media department. Whenever someone on a Windows client is using explorer to go into one of these folders they are automatically polluted with a Thumbs.db file (if the user has write permissons). How do we stop them from doing this without revoking user permissions?

This question was inspired by "Preventing Mac OS X clients from polluting Windows shares with resource forks".

  • Which version of Windows are you using?
    – squillman
    May 29 '09 at 20:32
  • We're using Windows XP
    – David Holm
    May 30 '09 at 8:01

In XP you can go into the View Tab in Folder Options (Tools | Folder Options in an Explorer window) and check Do not cache thumbnails.


Set this registry value to 1:


The registry tweak would obviously be easiest to deploy globally.

  • 1
    Bullseye: On registry, Save the registry key. That file can be distributed to your clients and be ran by double-clicking... you're a sysadmin, so have a go on a scripting architecture that takes cares of these sort of thing at logon.
    – jpinto3912
    May 29 '09 at 21:06

In addition to local changes via the user interface or the registry, in Active Directory domains Group Policy can be used to apply the setting to all clients.

The policy setting is called "Turn off caching of thumbnail pictures" and is found under User Configuration –> Administrative Templates –> Windows Components –> Windows Explorer

  • 1
    +1 Thanks for picking me up on the GPO bit!
    – squillman
    May 29 '09 at 20:43
  • +1, would definitely recommend the GP option over a .reg/scripted registry change approach May 29 '09 at 21:34

On Windows 2003 R2 or later, you can use the File Screen Management console (inside the File Server Resource Manager) to block the writing of "thumbs.db" to particular paths.
Create a new file screen, type in the path and then select Custom Properties. You will need to create a new file group that includes "thumbs.db" and turn on Active Screening.

Since these files are quite common, make sure to turn off the e-mail and event log alerts when they are blocked.

This has the benefit of only blocking thumbnail caching on your file servers only versus blocking it on all workstations.


You may want to rethink deleting them, and instead consider creating them for them.

If your users are primarily Windows users running Explorer, you'll speed up the browsing process by pre-generating the thumbnails for them and make it easier for them to find the photograph they are looking for.

You could do the same for .DS_STORE on OS X clients and whatever else is common in your environment.

  • 1
    +1 for the pro-user approach! :)
    – squillman
    May 30 '09 at 15:18
  • How do you pre-generate them?
    – Zoredache
    Oct 21 '11 at 17:28

squillman gives the correct answer.

Still, you'll have those old ones left. If you want to get rid of them, do this in Windows Command box:

C:\> del /s /q /f Thumbs.db

that only gets the visible ones

C:\> del /s /q /f /a:h Thumbs.db

gets the invisible ones too

You can do the same thing with .DS_STORE


A better solution is given here (http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/what-are-thumbsdb-files-and-can-i-delete-them-windows.htm). Follow the 2 steps to simply prevent WINDOWS from creating the THUMBS.db file :-)

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