Pin Me

How to Clear the Thumbnail Cache in Windows XP

written by: Dianna Monda Dill•edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 3/28/2009

Thumbnail caching and hidden files can cause your Windows XP system to run at a less than optimum speed and performance level. This step-by-step tutorial will show you how to clear your thumbnail cache in Windows XP.

  • slide 1 of 4

    Each time that you open a folder with pictures in XP, Windows creates a system file called Thumbs.db. This is a hidden file, and its purpose is to increase the speed with which your PC can display thumbnails each time you return to that folder. The thumbs.db files, however, can take a lot of valuable space, particularly if you have several pictures.

    These files can safely and easily be removed from your system, and you can even prevent XP from re-creating them by disabling your thumbnail cache. Read on to learn how to clear and disable your this cache.

  • slide 2 of 4

    Step #1: Display Hidden System Files

    Enable XP to show hidden files. This is necessary because thumbs.db is a hidden system file. To display hidden files:

    1. Open your Windows Explorer and click on the Tools menu.
    2. Select Folder Options from the dropdown menu that opens. This opens the Folder Options window.
    3. Click on the View tab, and then check the option that is labeled Show hidden files and folders.
    4. Un-check the file that is labeled: Hide protected operating system files.
  • slide 3 of 4

    Step #2: Clear the Thumbnail Cache

    1. Click on the Start button to open the Start menu. Click on Search. In the left-hand pane, select the option to Search for files and folders.
    2. Type Thumbs.db in the text field and then click Search. Windows will search for and list all of the available instances of the Thumbs.db system file that you have on your computer.
    3. Click on the Edit button located at the top of the dialog window. Next, click on Select All from the drop down menu that opens. This will highlight all of the files.
    4. Click on the File button located near the top of the window, and then click on the Delete button from the drop down menu that opens. The Thumbs.db files will now be sent to your Recycle Bin.
    5. Empty the Recycle Bin, which will get rid of the Thumbs.db files permanently.

  • slide 4 of 4

    Step #3: Disable Thumbnail Caching:

    1. Open Windows Explorer.
    2. Right click the Start menu and then select Explore.
    3. Click on the Tools menu in the dialog window that opens.
    4. Select Folder Options and then click Folder Options.
    5. Click on the View tab in the Folder Options window that will open.
    6. Select the option that is labeled: Do not cache thumbnails.