How to Clear Thumbnail Cache & Fix Black Background Behind Icons

When Windows thumbnail cache gets corrupted, it shows a black background behind the actual thumbnails. If you are facing this issue, follow the below steps to clear thumbnail cache.

Thumbnails are pretty useful to quickly identify media files. Without thumbnails, all the files look similar. As such, when the thumbnails functionality doesn’t work properly, it is a tiny bit annoying.

In case you don’t know, Windows automatically generates the thumbnails when you open a folder with files. Once the thumbnails are generated, they are stored as cache in separate database files which are located in a dedicated folder. When you visit the folder next time, Windows just shows the thumbnails from the cache. This improves the performance and removes the strain on the system to generate thumbnails each and every time you open a folder. This is especially true for folders with a ton of files.

When the thumbnail cache is corrupted or broken, you will see a black background behind the thumbnails. There may be any number of reasons for the corrupted or broken thumbnail cache. No matter the reason, you can easily fix it. Here’ show.

Steps to Clear Thumbnail Cache

To delete thumbnail cache, we need to use a few commands. Now, you might be wondering why can’t we delete the cache files directly from File Explorer. The answer is simple, the database files are actively in use by the File Explorer. As such, you will a screaming error message from File Explorer when you try to delete the cache files directly.

1. First, search for “Command Prompt” in the start menu. Click on the “Run as administrator” option. This action will open the Command Prompt with admin rights.


2. The thumbnail cache files are located in the Local AppData folder. So, use the below command to navigate to the folder.

cd %homepath%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer

3. As I said before, File Explorer is actively using the cache files. So, in order to delete the files, you first need to stop File Explorer. To do that, execute the following command.

Note: You screen background might go blank and the taskbar might be missing when you stop File Explorer. Don’t worry, it is normal. We will restart File Explorer once we are done deleting the files.

taskkill /f /im explorer.exe

4. After stopping the File Explorer, use the below command to delete all thumbnail cache files. Since we are using a wildcard (*), the below command will only delete thumbnail cache.

If you want to delete icon cache, then follow that guide.

del thumbcache_*.db

If the deletion is successful, you will not see any message whatsoever.

Finally, use the below command to restart Windows Explorer. Once done, you should see the normal background and taskbar.


Wrapping Up

That is all. It is that simple to clear thumbnail cache in Windows 10 and other older versions. If you are stuck or need some help, comment below and I will try to help as much as possible.

If you like this article, do check out how to change file type icon and how to change drive icon in Windows 10

Scroll to Top