I see ~/.thumbnails/large/00000000000000000000000000000000.png/ and ~/.thumbnails/normal/00000000000000000000000000000000.png/ in Lubuntu 13.04. Both folders have been empty whenever I looked. So what is their purpose? Or, under what conditions would these folders be populated?

Here's a screenshot from a video showing these folders (within the red rectangle): contents of ~/.thumbnails


Thumbnails are reduced-size versions of pictures, used to make it easier to scan and recognize them, serving the same role for images as a normal text index does for words (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thumbnail).


These thumbnails are created by Nautilus. Having thumbnails may make your system perform better. If you have pictures, Nautilus will have to create new thumbnails for them every time you go into your picture directory. If you scroll down the directory, you will notice that picture previews take quite a bit of time to display. By keeping a repository of thumbnails it already made, Nautilus can skip that part and display your pictures straightaway.

If you want to turn them off, start Nautilus, click on Edit -> Preferences -> Preview, choose Show thumbnails: Never.

Source: https://answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+question/27345

For information about cleaning up thumbnails take a look at How do I reset the thumbnail cache?.

  • 1
    Thanks for responding! But my question is about the subfolders present in both ~/.thumbnails/normal and in ~/.thumbnails/large. – user25656 Jul 3 '13 at 11:13
  • @vasa1 These thumbnails are created by Nautilus. - so, I suppose that the folders for thumbnails are not created by another process... – Radu Rădeanu Jul 3 '13 at 11:18
  • So you don't have ~/.thumbnails/normal/00000000000000000000000000000000.png/ or ~/.thumbnails/large/00000000000000000000000000000000.png/ in your system? Maybe, it's limited to Lubuntu. BTW, I don't have Nautilus. The default file manager in Lubuntu is PCManFM but I'm using Thunar. – user25656 Jul 3 '13 at 11:32

I'm using Lubuntu 12.10 with PCManFm, the default file manager.

/home/myhomefoldername/.thumbnails/normal is populated with more than 2000 itens, all of them are .png thumbnails made from files such as images (png, jpg or any other image format) and from pdf files. I can't see thumbnails made of other file formats such as .odt or .ods; .mov or even made from .txt.

When are they created? From what I'm observing here, they're created when I goto folders with those kind of files. Note that I view files on PCManFM as a detailed list, not as thumbnails. You don't need to open the files I listed at the previous paragraph. Just open a folder/directory with those kind of files and the thumbnails will be created at /home/myhomefoldername/.thumbnails/normal.

Note that all thumbnails seem to have a size limit: xx by 128 pixels. On PCManFm>Edit>Preferences>Show (not sure if it's the accurate translation once my Lubuntu is not in English) you'll see options to enable/disable thumbnails creation.

Default is to create thumbnails sized 128x128 and to not create thumbnails of files larger than 2048kb. This last option is strange because I have .ods and .txt files sized 104kb and I see no thumbnails of them at /home/myhomefoldername/.thumbnails/normal.

/home/myhomefoldername/.thumbnails/large is kind of empty. There's a subfolder called 00000000000000000000000000000000.png with no files at all inside.

I hope I helped a little with your investigation.

Good luck finding more about it!

  • Thanks for responding. When I was using PCManFM, I saw this folder ending in .png in both the normal and large folders. And both the .pngfolders were always empty. So the mystery remains :( – user25656 Jul 14 '13 at 6:31

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