Easiest way to clear Kodi thumbnails cache to free up space

This post describes the easiest way to clear Kodi thumbnails cache to free up space on your media device. This is especially important if you have Kodi on small storage device such as Amazon Fire TV or Stick which throws a "low on storage" popup. Kodi thumbnails cache can grow over time and depending on your playing habits and media library collection can reach several Gigabytes. Many of these images go stale and unused over time. Furthermore, Kodi does not automatically delete unused thumbnails. If you remove a TV Show or Movie from your library then thumbnail images associated with it will still be stored in the Userdata folder. The same is the case with almost all images (fanart, posters, etc.) that appear on your screen while browsing through streaming plugins. You can see from the images below that my Kodi OpenELEC on Raspberry Pi occupies about 1.3 GB, of which the userdata folder is 1.0 GB.

Clear Kodi Thumbnails Cache
Kodi Data Folder Size Before Cleaning

Going one folder level in, the Thumbnails folder inside userdata folder is 905.5 MB. That is almost 1 GB of stale and unused files.

Kodi Userdata Folder Size Before Deleting Thumbnails Cache
Kodi Userdata Folder Size Before Deleting Thumbnails Cache

Fortunately, it is very easy to clean Kodi thumbnails. After cleaning, Kodi can automatically recreate all needed thumbnails.

Clear Kodi Thumbnails Cache

Couple of years back I published a post on deleting unused thumbnail images on XBMC. The concept in this post is the same but method is slightly easier. In short, all you need to do is:

  1. Locate Kodi data folder on you device
  2. Delete TexturesXX.db file
  3. Delete userdata/Thumbnails folder
  4. Restart your Kodi box
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Just to be clear, cleaning the video and music library after removing files from your library does not clear Kodi thumbnails cache. This process only cleans the Kodi database. There are addons that clean Kodi cache (not the same as thumbnails cache). Those addons only clear Kodi cache (any buffered videos etc.). There are also addons to clean packages, which is again different from cleaning unused posters and fanarts. There is Kodi texture cache maintenance utility, which can remove unused thumbnails. But this utility may not be easy for some people to use. So here is the simple procedure I follow. [Read: 20 Best Kodi Addons for 2016: Updated, working list]

Step 1: Backup Kodi folder

This is a safe procedure if you follow the procedure to the T. But if you have any space left on your device, I recommend backing up the Kodi folder. To do this, locate the Kodi app data folder on your device and make a copy of it either on your devices, external drive, or remote drives.

Step 2: Delete Kodi Texture Database

Understanding Kodi folder structure can come in handy here. Find Kodi data folder on your device and delete the TexturesXX.db (the XX could be any number depending on your Kodi version) file located in userdata/Database folder.

Kodi Textures Database - Stores Thumbnail Information
Kodi Textures Database - Stores Thumbnail Information

On your Android device, including Amazon Fire TV, you could use a file explorer such as ES File explorer. On OpenELEC you will have to access this through SAMBA or SSH. [Read: 10 best SSH Clients for Windows: free alternatives to PuTTY]

Step 3: Delete Kodi Thumbnails Folder

Next, find and delete the userdata/Thumbnails folder.

Kodi Delete Unused Thumbnails
Kodi Userdata Folder - Stores Thumbnails

Here is the final size of the Kodi data folder after cleaning Kodi thumbnail cache (kodi: 437.7 MB, userdata: 164.3 MB, and Thumbnails: 76.0 KB):

Kodi Userdata Folder Size After Cleaning Thumbnails Cache
Kodi Userdata Folder Size After Cleaning Thumbnails Cache

Finally, reboot your Kodi box. Kodi will automatically start creating all the thumbnails it needs. All the old, stale, and unused ones are now gone. In addition to removing Kodi thumbnails, I also recommend periodically deleting download packages (guide coming soon), and clearing Kodi app cache. So there you have it. Clear Kodi thumbnails cache and maintain a light and fast media device.

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Anand is a self-learned computer enthusiast, hopeless tinkerer (if it ain't broke, fix it), a part-time blogger, and a Scientist during the day. He has been blogging since 2010 on Linux, Ubuntu, Home/Media/File Servers, Smart Home Automation, and related HOW-TOs.