WMP Overwrites Album Art and Folder Thumbnails. How to Stop it?

One of the biggest annoyances with Windows Media Player is that it sometimes overwrites your custom album art images as well as folder thumbnails, replacing them with lo-res images.

folder thumbnails with white borderThe dimensions of the updated folder.jpg would be 200×200 as available from WMP’s meta information source. But as we’ve seen before, exact square images can be a slight inconvenience in Windows 10, as the folder thumbnails are shown up with a white border.

200×200 is shown with white border, but any non-square images are shown stretched in thumbnail/large icons view. The workaround, of course, is to crop the image accordingly as in article Folder Thumbnails Appear With White Border in Windows 10. The problem now is, Windows Media Player would reset your custom hi-res folder.jpg with the low-res (200×200) ones from Microsoft’s meta data servers, every now and then.

Stop WMP from Updating Folder Thumbnails and Album Art

There are different ways with which you can prevent WMP from overwriting custom folder thumbnails and album art images.

  1. Using Windows Media Player – Preferences
  2. Using the Registry Editor to set invalid Album Art size
  3. Lock down folder.jpg using NTFS Permissions

Each of the above methods are discussed below.

1. Windows Media Player – Preferences

Open WMP, click Tools (ALT + T), Options. Click the Library tab

wmp overwrite album art

Uncheck Retrieve additional information from the Internet

Now select the Privacy tab

wmp overwrite album art

Uncheck these two options:

  • Display media information from the Internet
  • Update music files by retrieving media info from the Internet

Click OK. Close and re-open Windows Media Player.

If for some reason, you find Windows Media Player still updating the folder images and Album art images, then follow one of the methods below.

2. Using the Registry Editor

Now, the idea is to purposely set out of range value data for SmallAlbumArtSize and LargeAlbumArtSize registry values using the Registry Editor, so that Windows Media Player simply skips overwriting the images.

Start Regedit.exe and go to the following branch:


Create these two REG_DWORD (32 bit) values:

  • SmallAlbumArtSize
  • LargeAlbumArtSize

Set the value data for the above values to ffffffff (hexadecimal)

wmp overwrite album art

Repeat the same for LargeAlbumArtSize registry value, and exit the Registry Editor.

With these registry values set, Windows Media Player doesn’t update your folder thumbnail image (folder.jpg) and AlbumArt*.jpg images.

(Credits to koawmfot, a user at hydrogenaud.io forums who was probably the first to find this fix back in 2009. The fix also works in Windows 10.)

REG file format

Here is the REG file for the above setting. Copy these lines to Notepad and save the file with .reg extension. Double-click the file to apply the above settings automatically.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


3. Locking down Folder.jpg Using NTFS Permissions

Another approach would be to lock down folder.jpg so that no application can write to it. This can be done by removing all inherited permissions for the file, and then granting "Users" group Read permissions for the file, so that Explorer can still read the file during thumbnail generation. Here are 2 ways to do it.

Option 1: Using Command Prompt (Icacls.exe command)

Open your folder which contains the mp3 files. From the File menu, click Open command prompt. In the Command Prompt window, type the following and press ENTER:

icacls folder.jpg /inheritance:r

Then type:

icacls folder.jpg /grant BUILTIN\Users:(R)

You’ll see the following message for each command entered:

 processed file: folder.jpg Successfully processed 1 files; Failed processing 0 files

Option 2: Using the Permissions dialog

1. First, configure Explorer to Show all files, and unhide Protected Operating System files (in Folder Options, View tab), as folder.jpg may be super-hidden.

wmp overwrite album art

2. Right-click folder.jpg, click Properties. Click the Security tab, and click Advanced.

3. Click Disable inheritance, and click Remove all inherited permissions from this object.

4. Click Add, click Select a principal

5. Type Users, and press ENTER

6. Enable the Read checkbox and uncheck all other permission check boxes.

7. Click OK.

If you have any additional/explicit Permissions set for this file, you may need to remove them all first. Otherwise, WMP might still write to folder.jpg.

8. You should now have only one permission entry for the file, that one which you added.

wmp overwrite album art

You’re done. Inherited permissions for this file removed, and Users group have Read access for this file. Windows Media Player should no longer be able to update your images. The only downside of the Permissions method is that you’ll need to do this for each folder that contain a music album.

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Ramesh Srinivasan is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a consecutive ten-time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award in the Windows Shell/Desktop Experience category, from 2003 to 2012. He loves to troubleshoot and write about Windows. Ramesh founded Winhelponline.com in 2005.

6 thoughts on “WMP Overwrites Album Art and Folder Thumbnails. How to Stop it?”

  1. Ah… these old quirks of Windows Media Player that I certainly won’t miss… I remember them.

    Windows Media Player is old and clunky. It does not offer any of the conveniences of the modern players.

  2. There is a very simple trick. First in folder view settings, unhide system files. Then create an empty text file and save it as folder.jpg. Apply super hidden attribute by opening cmd inside the folder containing folder.jpg and type attrib +s +h folder.jpg and hit enter. Now copy this “folder.jpg” to all the folders containing music file replacing existing. Done!! Now WMP will show the embedded album art in the mp3 files.

  3. I am still a fan of WMP12, but this problem has been bugging me for a long time. Changing the WMP preferences never made any difference, but the registry hack worked well. Thank you for the post .. keep great work up.

  4. This step “3. Locking down Folder.jpg Using NTFS Permissions” is not necessary if use LargeAlbumArtSize

    LargeAlbumArtSize = Folder.jpg
    SmallAlbumArtSize = AlbumArtSmall.jpg

    Thanks You 😉


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