Widgets WINDOWS 7: Explorer Locks "thumbs.db" in most recently viewed folder


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WINDOWS 7: Explorer Locks "thumbs.db" in most recently viewed folder


On windows 7, you navigate to a folder that contains images or video files that you have either added new content to or have simply never explored before, if you then back out of that folder and try to delete it, you are warned that "The action can't be completed because the file is open in Windows Explorer. Close the file and try again. Thumbs.db":

Clicking Try Again any number of times will not resolve the issue. All of the files within that folder (except Thumbs.db) do still get deleted.

Usually, if you navigate to another folder for which a new Thumbs.db file is generated, then often the original problem folder can be deleted (though the most recently explored one can not), but sometimes a reboot is required. Even switching to another PC and trying to delete the folder through the network doesn't work. This was not an issue with Windows Vista.


It turns out that Windows 7 no longer relies on hidden Thumbs.db files to manage its thumbnails - that's now done with a central thumbnail cache - and it only generates these db files for backward compatability purposes. So, in my opinion, the best solution is to stop using Thumbs.db files entirely. Just to be clear, this does not mean that you will no longer see thumbnails of images and videos in windows explorer. Thumbnails will still be generated and your Windows Explorer experience as a user will be unchanged (except that you will be able to delete your folders more freely because these pesky thumbs.db files will no longer be an issue).

There are a number of ways to implement this fix and I believe they all require a reboot for the change to take effect. If you have a version Windows 7 that allows you to edit group policies (Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate or Enterprise) you can follow these steps to resolve the problem:

·    Click the Start orb

·    Enter gpedit.msc in the search box and hit Enter.

·    Expand User Configuration - Administrative Templates - Windows Components. 

·    Click on Windows Explorer.

·    Right-click the entry "Turn off the caching of thumbnails in hidden thumbs.db files" and choose Edit.

·    Enable the setting.

If you have Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic or Home Premium, or just want a quicker solution here's the .reg file equivalent of the group policy fix above.

(Paste the text below into Notepad, save it with a .reg extension, and then double-click the file.)

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

; Enables group policy: "Turn off the caching of thumbnails in hidden thumbs.db files"


Alternatively you could download a .reg file I made earlier, and simply double click on it:

ThumbsDbFix.reg (244.00 bytes)


Bring up a (administrator) CMD prompt and type (or paste):

  REG ADD "HKCU\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer" /v "DisableThumbsDBOnNetworkFolders" /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f

And you're done.

Posted by Williarob on Wednesday, March 14, 2012 11:48 AM
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