What is a thumbnail and what is it used for


If you are looking for how to free up space on your Android smartphone or on a computer, chances are that you have come across some folder or file named thumbnail.

These files and directories take up very little space and They are helpful when managing image libraries. And I say that they are of great help, because thanks to them, we can quickly find the image or images we are looking for.

However What is thumbnail? What is thumbnail for? We will answer this and other questions related to this file in this article.

What is thumbnail

What is Thumbnail

If we go to the English dictionary, we see that the translation of thumbnail is miniature. Now many things are understood, right?

If you have ever accessed any of these folders, you will have seen how the images that are inside are the same as the ones you have stored in your library but at a much lower resolution.

As the word thumbnail describes well, these images are nothing more than a copy of each and every one of the images that we have stored in our library and / or device, images that are used to display all images as a whole, one next to the other, which allows us to identify them more quickly.

If there were no thumbnails, thumbnail, when accessing the photo album, folder ... only the file name would be displayed, forcing us to click on each image to be able to identify which one we are looking for at that moment.

Resumiendo: Thumbnails or thumbnails are smaller versions of images used by applications and operating systems to aid in their organization and visual recognition.

They are not only used in all operating systems (all), but it is also used in search engines when searching for images.

If you have ever searched for an image in Google, filtering the result by a specific image size, when saving the image from the list that Google shows, you will have seen how the image does not correspond to the size it is supposed to be.

To be able to access the full resolution of the image and not store the thumbnail, we have to open the image in a new browser tab Or, access the web page where it is located and save it with the right button of the mouse or by clicking on the image if we are with a mobile device.

Thumbnail on YouTube

thumbnails YouTube Thumbnail

You have probably also associated the word thumbnail or thumbnail to YouTube. The concept is exactly the same: an image that represents the content that we are going to find inside.

When we upload a video to YouTube, the platform automatically extracts an image from the video and uses it as representative image of the video. If we do not like it or we want to attract the attention of more people, we must create a thumbnail that indicates what content it offers us.

This miniature, will be used as the cover image of the video, that is, it will be the image that is displayed as a thumbnail when the video listed in the search results is displayed.

We can create this type of images in the same resolution as the video, although will never display in the same resolution, since it is only used as a presentation of the video, never during its playback.

To make thumbnails of YouTube videos we can use any app that allows us to save the file in mainly .png and .jpg format, which are the extensions compatible with this platform.

In this way, we can use Windows Paint, for instance. We can also use any image that we have stored on our computer.

Can I delete the thumbnails?

delete thumbnail Android

As I mentioned above, the thumbnails they are thumbnails of the images that we have stored on our device, be it a mobile, tablet, computer ...

These small images of the larger images are found, in most cases, hidden in the system so they are not accidentally erased.

Even so Can I delete the thumbnails? Yes. Since they are not system files themselves, so if we delete them, our device will continue to work the same as before.

The reason operating systems hide some files is so that let's not touch them. In a native way, hidden files are not shown unless we modify the display options.

The hidden files that the system allows us to delete do not affect the functioning of the system. However, we also find files that do.

These files we can't delete them with a file manager with which we manage the files on our device, since we need special permissions to be able to do so.

What happens if I delete the thumbnails


In the previous section, I have told you that we can delete the thumbnails of our device because do not affect the operation of the device. However, that does not mean that it has no consequences for the rest of the device.

Although it is true that the device will work the same as before deleting them, the device or equipment will recreate the thumbnails on the computer again, so it is likely that for a few minutes it will work erratically, with lags / jerks, until the process ends.

Now that we know how thumbnails work on both mobile devices and desktop computers, we conclude that eliminating them is of absolutely no use.

With the space so small that they occupy, We are not going to gain a considerable space, but the only thing we are going to achieve is to worsen the user experience for a while, the time necessary for the team to recreate all the miniatures.

How to find thumbnails

search thumbnail android

Android stores the thumbnails in the folder ".Thumbnails" (without the quotes and with the period) at the root of the system, in a hidden directory / folder.

In that folder thumbnails / thumbnails of all images are stored that we have stored on our device.

If you don't want to go crazy looking for the rest of the thumbnails that take up space on your device, you can try the application SD Card Thumbnail Finder, available on the Play Store for free with ads and in-app purchases (which remove the ads).

SD Card Thumbnail Finder allows us find the thumbnails stored on our device, to later eliminate them with the applications that we show you in the next section. With this application, we cannot remove them.

SD Card Thumbnail Finder
SD Card Thumbnail Finder
Developer: The AppGuru
Price: Free

How to delete thumbnails

Deleting the thumbnails has no mystery. They are nothing more than thumbnail image files that we can delete with any file manager, which allows us to access all the directories on our device.

Although Files by Google is one of the best file managers, does not allow us to navigate the device at ease since it does not show the hidden files of the system, a functionality that if we are going to find in other file managers such as:

File manager

File manager

This application is much more than a file manager for Android as it also allows us to manage our files. SD card, from NAS devices, from cloud storage folders like Dropbox and Google Drive...

With File manager we can open, search, browse folders, copy, paste, cut, delete, rename, compress, decompress, transfer, download, mark and organize ... In addition, it also allows us to execute apk files.

File manager is an application that we can download for free, includes ads and in-app purchases. It has an average rating of 4,7 stars out of 5 possible after receiving more than 1 million reviews.

file Manager
file Manager
Developer: FileManagerPlus
Price: Free

File manager: Manager

File Manager Manager

If all you want is to access all the files stored on your device and you don't want to spend money on apps, you can opt for the File Manager application: Manager.

With this application we can: explore, create, rename, compress, decompress, copy, paste, move, select multiple files, save data in private folders, scan the device in large file search to free up space ...

File manager: Manager, is an application that we can download for free and that they do not have any type of ads or in-app purchases. It has an average rating of 4,8 stars out of 5 possible after receiving almost 40.000 evaluations.

file Manager
file Manager
Developer: InShot Inc.
Price: Free



For users who have less knowledge and who do not want to be messing around with their device, the simplest and fastest solution for using CCleaner, an application that allows us to free up free space on our device in a similar way to Files by Google.

However, CCleaner focuses on deleting residual files that the Google application is not able to delete, more than anything because, as I mentioned above, it is useless to delete them since over time, they are automatically recreated. 

However, if our smartphone It is very fair of free space and we need a fix, we can free up the space used by these miniatures to get that extra space.

CCleaner - Phone-Cleaner
CCleaner - Phone-Cleaner
Developer: Piriform
Price: Free

CCleaner is an application that we can download completely free, contains ads and in-app purchases. It has an average rating of 4,7 stars out of 5 possible after receiving more than 2 million reviews.

In addition, it is also available for Windows and macOS, so we can use it in both operating systems to free up extra space occupied by these thumbnails, taking into account that over time it will appear again.

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