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[vista] Clean New Thumbnail Cache

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Windows Vista has a new way of caching its Explorer's thumbnails of images and videos.


It does not create hidden "thumbs.db" files in each folder anymore (as WinXP does).

Instead, it now has a centralised database under



I think there should be an option for CCleaner to clean this database

(i.e. delete the thumbscache files).


The thing is, that there seems to be no obvious way to disable the caching of thumbnails in Vista.

Under WinXP, there was a straightforward option called "Do not cache thumbnails"

(Explorer > Folder Options > View). This option is gone in Vista :angry: .


I found a registry tweak somewhere, but this does not work with Vista RTM, only with the RC-1.


If anyone has a tip on how to properly disable Vista's thumbnail cache

I would be very grateful, as disabling the whole thing is better than cleaning it ;)


Thx, Spacemarine

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hey John_g, thx for your tip,


but I am of course aware of this checkbox.

The thing is, that the "Always show icons, never thumbnails" checkbox completely disables the

thumbnail feature, i.e. you won't get any previews at all.

This checkbox sucks, this is not what I want ;);)


I want Vista to still show image thumbnails, but want to prevent it from caching them,

Windows should just recreate them each time I browse a folder with pictures in it.


In other words, I want Vista to simply behave the same way Windows XP does if you tell it

not to chache thumbnails:

XP stops caching them (thumbs.db files don't get created anymore), but the thumbnail feature

still works, just without the cache...




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  • 1 month later...

Well, after extensive searching for a solution,

I have concluded that there is no easy way to turn off the

thumbscache while retaining thumbnail displaying capability.


That means that an option to clean the thumbscache

(Files in X:\Users\<username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer)

would indeed be nice and needed :P


After all, Microsoft's little cleaning app (What's it called again ... Disk Cleanup ? I think so...)

includes this capability (But I want CCleaner to do it ;) ).

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  • 6 months later...
  • 5 months later...



After spending an hour or so searching Google on how to disable the Thumbnail Cache in Vista, I came up empty and decided to figure it out myself.

It was actually fairly easy, so I'm surprised that no one has been able to figure it out.


Before starting make sure you are logged on as an Administrator. Then follow these steps:


  1. First, turn off thumbnail creation by opening Windows Explorer, clicking the Organize button and selecting Folder and Search Options.
    Click on the View tab and check Always show icons, never thumbnails. Click the OK button.
  2. Then, run Disk Cleanup on Drive C: and empty the cache so you can recover the disk space. You can find it in Accessories/System Tools.
  3. In Windows Explorer, navigate to the AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows folder under your name.
    If you can't find it, just copy the following: %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows
    Paste it into the Address Bar and hit Enter.
  4. Right-Click on the Explorer folder and select Properties.
  5. Select the Security tab.
  6. Click the Advanced button.
  7. On the Permissions tab, click the Edit button.
  8. Uncheck Include inheritable permissions from this object's parent.
  9. Click the Remove button in the Windows Security box that pops up.
  10. Click the OK button on the Permissions Tab.
  11. Click the Yes button in the Windows Security box that pops up.
  12. Close all the open boxes.
  13. Go back into the Folder and Search Options and uncheck the Always show icons, never thumbnails and you're done.


Now, browse any folder you want and Windows will create the thumbnails on the fly, but won't save them to disk. I've verified that these Security Settings will not be overwritten by rebooting Windows. However, I don't know if the Explorer directory is used for anything else. I've been using Vista for over a year now and the only files in my Explorer directory were the thumbnail databases.


If you think you can do the same thing to the thumbnail database files instead of the Explorer directory, you can't. I tried that first and Windows was still able to delete them and create new ones. This is also true if you try setting the file's Read-only, Hidden and System attributes.


Don't worry about not being able to access the Explorer folder. You, as the Owner of the Explorer directory, can undo the changes, but apparently Windows can't.

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