The Mystery of Thumbs.db

The thumb: the fact that we can touch each of our fingers with it is a mark of our humanity. It’s also very useful: extended, it can help you avoid paying taxi fares or signal that something is going well. Down-turned, it is a sign of disapproval, and in some cultures, it is even a worthy substitute for the infamous “middle finger”. But what does it mean when thumbs start appearing in your folders, your server account, your workspace and your project share?

The thumbs.db file is generated by the Windows operating system. It is a database file containing the small images displayed when you view a folder in “thumbnail” view (as opposed to tile, icon, list, or detail view). No harm is done by deleting thumbs.db files. In fact, as they can be quite sizable, is well worth doing precisely that! Whether you see these files or not is a function of your File Options settings.

To turn off this feature and save a bit of disk space:





    1. Click the Start button

    2. Select Control Panel

    3. Select Folder Options

    4. Click the View tab

    5. Check “Do not cache thumbnails

    6. Click the OK button

Now you can search your computer for thumbs.db files and remove them. To do so:

    1. Click the Start button

    2. Click Search

    3. Click All files and folders

    4. In the All or part of the file name box type Thumbs.db

    5. Set the Look in: pull-down menu to Local Hard Drives (C:)

    6. Click Search. A list of the files found appears in the right window

    7. Click in the right window where the files are listed and press the control button and the A button to highlight all the files (Ctrl+A)

    8. Press the Delete key. It may take a few seconds to delete the files


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