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Where are images stored on Android? What is DCIM thumbnails folder?

Submitted on 02/03/2019

It is convenient to store pictures on phone. But with time it becomes harder and harder to clean up. Moreover, it isn't very clear where the images are stored. Worst of all, whole photo albums might disappear. That’s why it is important to know where the media files are kept.

In this article we will mention of:

  1. Where images are stored on Android
  2. What is DCIM folder
  3. Where are screenshots saved on Android
  4. What a thumbnails folder is for
  5. Where thumbnails files are stored
  6. How to delete thumbnails  cache?
  7. Dcim folder is empty

Where are pictures stored on Android

Photos taken on Camera (standard Android app) are stored on either a memory card or phone memory depending on the settings.

The location of photos is always the same - it’s DCIM/Camera folder. The full path looks like this: 

  • /storage/emmc/DCIM - if the images are on phone memory
  • /storage/sdcard0/DCIM - if they are on memory card

How do you get to these folders fast? You need to install a file manager like ES Explorer or Total Commander since the built-in tools of mobile OS are not very convenient and have limits in operations on files and folders. 

DCIM meaning

DCIM stands for Digital Camera Images. This name is a kind of standard for for digital cameras.

iOS and Android devices support DCF (Design Rule for Camera File System) specification, within the framework of which the name DCIM is accepted. So desktop and mobile apps can easily open this folder. 

Where screenshots are saved on Android phone

Screenshots taken in usual way (by pressing hardware-buttons) are saved in Pictures/Screenshot (or DCIM/Screenshot) folder. If you install a third party Screenshot app on Android OS, you need to check screenshot location in the Settings.

Screenshots folder on Android phone

Why we need thumbnails folder

In this folder, according to its name, you can find thumbnails - smaller versions of pictures, downloaded images (for example, contact photos from Whatsapp or Skype). Thumbnails help a smartphone to open an image from Gallery in a faster way.

Where thumbnails are stored

Thumbnail files are stored in DCIM folder:

  • /storage/emmc/DCIM/.thumbnails (if only phone memory is used)
  • /storage/sdcard0/DCIM/.thumbnails (if there is an sd card in the phone)

How to delete thumbnails on Android phone?

It often happens that thumbnail files “eat up” too much space on phone, up to a few gigabytes. So it is useful and sometimes even necessary to clean the thumbnails folder. In this case you lose nothing, necessary files will be created again when need.

It can be done in two ways.

Way 1 (manually):

1. Install a file manager on Android (for example, Solid Explorer Classic)

2. Enable viewing hidden files in your phone

'Show hidden files on Android' settings

3. Go to thumbnails folder

4. Delete the android dcim thumbnails content by selecting all files

Select thumbnails to delete from the phone

Way 2 (automatically):

1. Install CCleaner app on Android

2. Tap the 'Analyze' button

3. Go to the 'Other Caches' section

Other caches section

4. In the results tap the checkbox 'Thumbnail Cache' and press 'Clean'

How to increase phone storage

Dcim folder is empty  – what to do?

This problem occurs when you connect your phone to a PC through USB cable. The dcim folder is empty while the pictures can still be displayed through Gallery

  1. You need to check both locations - on memory card and on android-device memory (perhaps, you need to drag files from one DCIM folder to the other one).
  2. Then delete cache from External Storage and Media Storage app.

How to clear it:

1. Settings -> Apps -> Tap three dots on top right

2. Show system apps -> Go to 'External Storage' and 'Media storage'

'Show system apps' settings

3. Tap 'Clear data' and 'Clear cache' buttons

How to clear thumbnail cache on Android

4. Reboot the mobile phone

Questions - Answers

After I take a picture I used to put it on autocorrect and it would send it to DCIM folder which was thin located in my gallery when I scrolled down but it is not there anymore and I cannot find my DCIM folder. Where are my photos? I've already gone through your instructions and do not understand a word they're saying. I want my DCIM folder back because the pictures look better.

I have a Samsung galaxy j5 and some saved images on my phone went missing. I went through my files and DCIM folder but found nothing, although no additional free memory appeared. I receive Android notifications saying that I need to free up some memory. What should I do?

I transferred photos from my phone to its memory card, but they disappeared and instead of them there is a triangle with an exclamation mark… I found the photos (on your advice) in DCIM camera folder, but their quality leaves much to be desired (the focus is completely gone!).

I transferred the photos from my phone memory to its sd card. I made it via a stationary computer by connecting the phone through a USB port. I have access to Android Gallery and photos are stored in DCIM/Camera folder. But there is no access to the photos and videos from Viber and WhatsApp.

Please help me to recover the files from my phone. When I connect it to my computer, the photos stored in DCIM folder (internal memory) can't be viewed, although there are no problems with it when viewing them via the phone. I wanted to transfer them to the computer. As a result, I've done something wrong. Now all the photos in this folder are in the form of a gray square with an exclamation mark. When I try to open them, the cursor hangs and starts spinning and then I receive a notification saying that the format isn't supported. I have no clue how but two DCIM folders merged and then were replaced. As a result, there is some free space in the internal memory of the phone. In such case is it possible to retrieve photos and videos from that folder and if yes, than how?

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