This is a fresh install of Ubuntu 14.04. Also seems to happen in 16.04.

In Nautilus > Edit > Preferences > Preview

I have "Show thumbnails" as "Local files only" and "Only for files smaller than" 100MB.

Changing those settings to anything else doesn't generate thumbs either.

~/.cache/thumbnails is owned by me, and I can see thumbnails in there for the Desktop Backgrounds but nothing else.

I have ubuntu-restricted-extras installed.

I don't see thumbs for any file type or size. Nothing at all.

  • After posting this I deleted my .cache/thumbnails directory and logged out. After logging in again they've appeared!
    – david_nash
    Aug 6, 2014 at 0:57

4 Answers 4


just do this

sudo rm -rf ~/.thumbnails/* ~/.cache/thumbnails/*

  • 2
    Using sudo should be avoided when possible for a users personal ~ space. If the elevated command is needed, this would be an instance to recognize the problem of using sudo in the personal space. Try it as a normal user first, then use sudo to fix what has become broken if the owner is changed from your access. Specifying to use it when it's not necessary (or shouldn't be done) is causing novice users to take it lightly and use it all the time, making their system subject to serious problems. Jun 5, 2017 at 14:05

For me the problem was that the ~/.cache/thumbnails folder had changed ownership to root for some reason. Fixed with (replacing user with the name of your user):

sudo chown -R user:user ~/.cache/thumbnails/
  • In my case ~/.cache changed owership to root. Thanks a lot for suggestion.
    – jutky
    Jul 6, 2016 at 6:07

I faced this problem but I Googled everywhere but nothing solves my problem. But later on I found out that the thumbnailer was just stuck. Try typing this at the terminal:

killall evince-thumbnailer

It will kill the thumbnailing process, and then you get your new thumbnails regenerated again. :)


Install FFMPEG Thumbnailer-

sudo apt install ffmpegthumbnailer

Now Reopen file manager. Go to Home Page and press ctrl+h to show hidden folder, enter the folder ".cache", and then enter into "thumbnails". Delete everything in thumbnails folder. Restart your PC. This will solve most of the problem related to THUMBNAILS. Thank You

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