Delete Thumbs.db files with Spotlight

Apr 9, 2007 - 16 Comments

Any Mac user that has shared files from a Windows PC has surely found the always annoying and completely useless Thumbs.db files scattered around their directories. We’ve been asked about deleting Thumbs.db files a few times before, and typically we run a simple script from the command line, but there’s another even easier way. Using only Spotlight, LifeHacker shows us how to delete all Thumbs.db files from your Mac in one fell swoop.

Delete Thumbs.db files from Mac OS X

  1. Launch Spotlight (command-spacebar)
  2. Type “Thumbs.db”, when a list is gathered hit the return key
  3. Click the ‘more’ button to show all search results
  4. Now simply drag and drop all of the Thumbs.db files into the trash, and empty the trash
  5. Done! Your Mac will now be rid of all Thumbs.db files


As you can see, this tip is very simple and for many it is easier than launching the Terminal and doing it through the command line. If you’re wondering what Thumbs.db files are, they are simply a small cache file that holds thumbnail preview data for folders in Windows, it is not a crucial system file, so do not worry about deleting them from your Mac (where they serve no purpose anyway).

Good idea from LifeHacker

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Posted by: OSXDaily in How to, Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks

16 Comments

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  1. regis says:

    wow, another usefull feature of spotlight….

  2. Munin says:

    Hi there, OS X Daily! I just wanted to say that I stumbled upon this website earlier this morning and I’ve read all the articles.

    As a soon-to-be “Switcher”, this is a wonderful website that I’ll keep tabs on. Even though I don’t have a Mac yet, I think it’s EXTREMELY useful to watch over.

    Thank you for making my life easier as a “Mac noob”.

  3. The BaldGuy says:

    Nice tip, but I figured there had to be a way to automate this. So, I did. The result is here

  4. […] Mac OS X isn’t the only operating system to create annoying system files though. If you ever access your Mac from a Windows PC, you’ll likely find a few Thumbs.db files laying around in your Mac’s folders. Thumbs.db serves much the same purpose in Windows as the DS_Store file does for Mac OS X, making it useless for a Mac user. If you want to get rid of the equally annoying and useless Thumbs.db , read the easy how-to article to remove Thumbs.db files quickly with Spotlight. […]

  5. juna says:

    that is the best tip ever. i love you. thank you so so so so much.

  6. You know, I absolutely hate those files… Thanks for the guide.

  7. Sir Tux says:

    I hate those _MACOSX folders in windows. Worst part is they’re usually read-only.
    Good thing Linux and Vista don’t do stupid metadata in extra files anymore. They take the centralised approach. Which may use anual cleaning up, but doen’t clutter other folders, or other OS’s.

  8. Nathan says:

    Cool beans I was wondering what the heck those were for and how the heck to get rid of them..:)

  9. S.Koibito says:

    This doesn’t work very well for us. Spotlight has so many bugs that I can actually do this procedure three times in a row, and actually still have files to delete on the third run.
    We (work colleagues and I) do not know why this happens, but on most of our Macs, running 10.4 to 10.6, this is pretty much standard.
    It comes down to either corrupt spotlight DBs (and we have given up deleting and re-creating them) slow building of the DBs, or the massive bug in spotlight, where it ignores the Privacy selection on drives. Which is a big no-no, because for some reason it insists on building DBs on our windows drives. We have to repetitively turn privacy on, only to find a half-dozen drives including the windows ones, being scanned by spotlight, all over again.
    On top of that, it considers all sorts of areas on the boot drive as inaccessible, even though that’s an area we need to get to. And “Size” isn’t included in the table list?!?

  10. S.Koibito says:

    Oops, forgot the final bit. We found a more reliable method using this procedure, but we do it through FileBuddy. Takes a little bit longer, but gets every single one of the files, no matter where they are, and you can easily exclude the windows drives that are currently attached.

  11. […] a largely Windows network, you’ll probably be running into these all the time. You can easily delete Thumbs.db files in Mac OS X by using […]

  12. TJ says:

    Hi,
    I have another problem with the thumbs files. I have just bought a mac and have a pretty old pc. I have been using an external hard dive to transfer files, but all of my pictures have come up on the mac as thumb files. Is there any way to convert these back to pics as my pc has absolutely had a fit and pretty much deleted everything off it. There are some beautiful photos i would really like to get back. IM FREAKING OUT!!
    Thanks if anyone can help me@!

  13. Robyn says:

    Perfect. This simple and simply put tip is such a relief. No more annoying, extra thumbs.db files annoying me. It’s just one more reason why I love a Mac way more than I ever even liked my PC. Thanks :)

  14. moby says:

    What about when you’re using a mac to view files on a server. I wouldn’t want to delete these thumbs.db files every day. Is there a way to hide them?

  15. […] you may notice that Windows PC’s have similar metadata files in all directories called “Thumbs.db“, those can also be removed separately by using […]

  16. Leninvinod says:

    thanks a lot mate, really I was wondering what is this but got rid of it, thanks a lot cheers :)

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