Thumbnails are small representations of image files which are shown up Windows Explorer. These thumbnails replace the actual image icon and are displayed as icons, thus making easier for the user to identify the image without even opening it. Thumbnails are created by the Windows operating system automatically but this is done only for the Windows image file types or the global image file types. Some of the file types for which the Windows operating system creates a thumbnail are BMP, JPG, JPEG, TIF, GIF and few more. Whenever we chose to view the files and folders in thumbnail view the images icons are replaced by their respective thumbnails and the other files and folder which are not of image type display their basic icons. The information of these files and thumbnails is stored in a special file called as thumbnails.db which is created for each folder and it contains thumbnail information of files stored in that folder. Thumbnails.db is a system file and is hidden by default. Since every folder has its own thumbnail file so they may consume a lot of space on your computer during the course of usage. Purpose of these thumbnail files is just to load the Thumbnail view quickly whenever you select to, and there is no other use of this file. One can delete this file and this will in no way effect the working of computer. In this post I will let you know how to easily delete these files and free up some space on your hard drive. Before you continue reading the steps let me state that these steps are for Windows XP and earlier operating system. These thumbnails can be cleared automatically using the disk cleanup tool in Windows Vista and later operating systems.

Steps to clear the files manually

Step 1: Open ‘Control Panel’ and then open ‘Folder Options’.

Step 2: Once you have the ‘Folder Options’ window, click on the ‘View’ tab.

Step 3: Click on the radio button called ‘Show Hidden Files and Folders’ and then click on ‘Apply’ and ‘OK.’ This will make the thumbnails.db files visible.

Step 4: Click on the ‘Start’ Menu and then click on ‘Search’.

Step 5: Type Thumbnails.db as the file name to be searched and select the entire My Computer as the search location.

Step 6: Press Search and then Windows will search for all these files on the entire hard drive.

Step 7: Once you have all the files listed in the search results, you can select all of them and then press delete. If you wish you can keep the ‘SHIFT’ key down while deleting the files so that they can be permanently deleted.

Given above were some simple steps to clear the thumbnail files from any computer running on Windows XP or earlier. You can run the Disk Cleanup Tool in Windows Vista or later. Here you will find a check box to select whether you want to delete the thumbnail cache while running the disk cleanup utility.