How to delete network folder with thumbs.db file on Windows 10

If you're having problems deleting a network folder because of a thumbs.db error, then use these steps to fix the problem on Windows 10.

Windows 10 delete thumbs.db in network folders
Windows 10 delete thumbs.db in network folders

On Windows 10, thumbs.db are hidden files created using thumbnail previews for folders in File Explorer. Although these files are harmless, sometimes they can cause problems. For example, if you moved content from a Windows 10 device to a network shared, and then you want to delete a folder, you may end up with a “The action can’t be completed because the file is open in Windows Explorer” message referring to the “thumbs.db” file that will prevent you from removing the folder.

If these “thumbs” database files are causing issues, you can delete them using File Explorer, Group Policy Editor, or the Registry to allow you to delete network folders.

This guide will teach you the steps to delete thumbs.db files to remove network folders using File Explorer on Windows 10.

Delete network folder with thumbs.db from File Explorer

To delete folders with thumbs.db file on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer on Windows 10.

  2. Browse to the folder to delete.

  3. Click the View tab.

  4. Check the Hidden items option.

  5. Under the “Layout” section, select the Details option.

  6. Select the thumbs.db file.

    Delete thumbs.db using Details view

  7. Click the Delete button from the “View” tab.

  8. Click the Yes button.

Once you complete the steps, the thumbs.db file should be deleted without problems. However, if the steps don’t work, you can switch to another view and choose the Details view again.

Delete network folder with thumbs.db disabling preview cashing

If the thumbs.db refuses to be deleted. You can try disabling the thumbnail previews feature on Windows 10.

Disable thumbs.db from Group Policy

To disable thumbs.db caching for network folders on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for gpedit and click the top result to open the Group Policy Editor.

  3. Click on User Configuration from the left pane.

  4. Browse the following path:

    User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer
  5. Double-click the “Turn off the caching of thumbnails in hidden thumbs.db files” policy.

    Turn off caching of thumbnails in hidden thumbs.db files

  6. Select the Enabled option to disable the feature.

    Disable thumbnail caching policy to delete thumbs.db files

  7. Click the Apply button.

  8. Click the OK button.

  9. Restart your computer.

After you complete the steps, you should now be able to delete network folders with thumbs.db files.

Disable thumbs.db from Registry

To delete network shares with thumbs.db with the Registry, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for regedit, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.

  3. Browse the following path:

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows
  4. Right-click the Windows folder, select the New submenu, and click on Key.

    Create Explorer Registry key

  5. Name the key Explorer and press Enter.

  6. Right-click the newly created key, select the New submenu, and click on the “DWORD (32-bit) Value” option.

    Registry create DisableThumbsDBOnNetworkFolders DWORD

  7. Name the DWORD DisableThumbsDBOnNetworkFolders and press Enter.

  8. Double-click the newly created DWORD and change its value from 0 to 1.

    Registry disable thumbnail caching policy to delete thumbs.db files

  9. Click the OK button.

  10. Restart your computer.

Once you complete the steps, the new settings will apply, and you should now be able to delete thumbs.db files without the “The action can’t be completed because the file is open in Windows Explorer” message.

About the author

Mauro Huculak is a Windows expert and the Editor-in-Chief who started Pureinfotech in 2010 as an independent online publication. He is also been a Windows Central contributor for nearly a decade. Mauro has over 12 years of experience writing comprehensive guides and creating professional videos about Windows, software, and related technologies, including Android and Linux. Before becoming a technology writer, he was an IT administrator for seven years. In total, Mauro has over 20 years of combined experience in technology. Throughout his career, he achieved different professional certifications from Microsoft (MSCA), Cisco (CCNP), VMware (VCP), and CompTIA (A+ and Network+), and he has been recognized as a Microsoft MVP for many years. You can follow him on X (Twitter), YouTube, LinkedIn and About.me.