It is convenient to save pictures to your smartphone. But over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to clean the stacks of images that may accumulate and compromise the internal memory of your device. And in those hours, many have difficulty finding where the images are stored. Even worse, entire photo albums may disappear. That’s why it’s important to know the DCIM folder, which is the folder where the media files are kept.

Where are the photos stored on Android?

Photos taken by the standard Android camera application are stored on a memory card, or in the internal memory of the smartphone, depending on the settings. The location of the photos is always the same – in the DCIM folder. The full path is:

  • /storage/emmc/DCIM – if the images are in smartphone memory
  • /storage/sdcard0/DCIM – if the images are on the memory card

How do you get to these folders quickly? You need to install a file manager, because the built-in tool of the Android operating system allows the operations of files and folders in a much more limited way.


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

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

Where the screenshots are saved on Android

The screenshots you normally take (by pressing the hardware buttons) are saved in the Screenshot/Screen Capture folder (or DCIM/Screen Capture). If you install a third-party application on the Android operating system, you’ll need to check the location of the screenshot in the Settings.

Thumbnail Folder

In this folder, according to your name, you can find thumbnails – smaller versions of images, downloaded images (for example, Whatsapp or Skype contact photos). Thumbnails help your smartphone open a gallery image faster.

Where thumbnails are stored

Thumbnail files are stored in the DCIM folder:

  • /storage/emmc/DCIM/.thumbnails (if only the smartphone memory is used)
  • /storage/sdcard0/DCIM/.thumbnails (if there is an SD card on your smartphone)

How to delete thumbnails from Android?

It often happens that thumbnail files “consume” a lot of space on the device, up to a few gigabytes. Therefore, it is useful and sometimes even necessary to clean the thumbnails folder. In this case you do not lose anything, the necessary files will be created again when this is necessary.

This can be done in two ways.

Path 1 (manually):

1. Install a file manager on Android;

2. Enable viewing hidden files on your smartphone;

3. Go to thumbnail folder;

4. Delete the contents of the Android DCIM thumbnails by selecting all files.

Path 2 (automatically):

1. Install the CCleaner application on Android;

2. Tap the “Analyze” button;

3. Go to the “Other caches” section;

4. In the results, tap the ‘Thumbnail Cache’ check box and press ‘Clear’.

The DCIM folder is empty – what to do?

This problem occurs when you connect your smartphone to a PC through the USB cable. The DCIM folder is empty, but the images can still be displayed in Gallery

  1. You need to check both locations – on the memory card and the internal memory of your Android device (you may need to drag files from one DCIM folder to another).
  2. Then, delete the application cache “External Storage” and “Media Storage”.

How to uncheck it:

1. Settings> Apps> Tap ‘More’> Apps off;

2. Now go to ‘Show system’ and find the app ‘Android System WebView’. Touch the ‘Clear Storage’ and ‘Clear Cache’ buttons;

3. Restart the phone

When your DCIM folder becomes a DCIM file

Considering the uniqueness and value of each personal photo, a particularly painful experience occurs when your photos disappear due to a technical problem.

One problem that can happen is the corruption of the files on the storage device – the SD card, for example. This can happen when the card is still in the smartphone or when it is inserted into another device, such as the computer or the printer.

There are several reasons why corruption occurs, but the result usually looks like one of three situations:

  1. One or two images can not be viewed
  2. There are no photos on the card
  3. The DCIM folder is not a folder, but is now a single, large file

In the case of Situation 1, there is often nothing you can do. Remove the rest of the photos from the card, and then format or replace the card. If this happens again, you probably have a problem with the device you are using.

Situation 2 may mean that the smartphone never made the images, in this case replacing the device is the best option, or it could mean that the file system is corrupted.

In situation 3, it almost always means that the file system is corrupted. As similar as numbers 2 and 3 are at least if the DCIM folder has turned into a file, the images are there, but they are not in a format that you can access.

In both #2 or # 3, you will need to seek help from a dedicated file system repair tool, such as Magic FAT Recovery. If a file system problem is the source of the problem, this program may help.

If Magic FAT Recovery solved your problem, format the SD card after backing up your photos. You can do this with your own Android formatting tools or on your computer.


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