Phones, Gadgets and Technology

Remove unwanted photos and albums from your Android Jellybean Gallery

Google’s Jelly Bean version of their Android operating system has a habit of grabbing your photographs from linked accounts such as Google, Facebook, Dropbox, etc and displaying them in your devices Gallery. If you want all your photos to hand then that’s great, however internet forums are full of frustrated Android users struggling to delete unwanted photos and albums, as they do tend to clutter up your Gallery.

Google, Picasa, Facebook and Dropbox are among the services which Jellybean takes your photos from and displays them in the Gallery of your Android device. If you’re careful and lucky when linking these accounts to your device, you can uncheck the option of syncing photos. Quite often though, the photos start to sync as default and only stop once you uncheck the option of automatic photo sync.

I originally wrote this article in April 2013 – yesterday, 5 months since I posted the article, I become the proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy S4 and there is a very simple solution on this device which may also apply to other devices running on more recent versions of Jelly Bean: go to your gallery; press the menu button; select “content to display”; uncheck any unwanted accounts syncing to your gallery. If only it was as easy as that when I was dicking around with my Galaxy Note, my Galaxy Camera and my wife’s Galaxy S3 earlier this year… then I wouldn’t have had to write the following article.

When I set up my technophobic wife’s Samsung Galaxy S3 and linked her Facebook account to the phone, Jelly Bean trawled her Facebook account and placed all her albums and photos in her phones gallery. Every time she accessed her Gallery to browse recently taken photos she was faced with hundreds of old Facebook photos. On my Samsung Galaxy Camera, I linked my Dropbox account… which contains over 8000 photos. Without realising what was happening, I was bemused as the device ran painfully slow for the next few hours as Jelly Bean tried to fill my Gallery with the entire contents of my Dropbox account! The same thing happened again recently when my Samsung Note upgraded its operating system from ICS to JB.

One of the more confusing things faced by Android users who suffer unwanted synchronisation of their photos with the Gallery of their Android device is the sudden appearance of Picasa albums. Picasa is a Google service which many users have been previously unaware of, if you have stored photos on Google Drive or have posted photos to Google Plus then Google creates Picasa albums on your behalf and stores the photos there.

To stop unwanted photos from syncing and to physically remove unwanted photos from your Android device, you’ll need to first turn off the Photo syncing service that is causing you the problem.

STEP 1: Go to Settings >> Accounts and Sync >> click on the account causing you the problem (Google, Facebook, Dropbox, etc) >> now uncheck any option that offers to Sync photos.

If you have a Google account linked with the phone, make sure you uncheck the options for both “Sync Google Photos” AND “Sync Picasa Web Albums”.

Stopping the sync will stop any new photos from syncing to your device, but won’t do anything for the photos already synced…

STEP 2: Go to Settings >> Application manager >> All >> click on “Gallery” and then click on “Force Stop” and then click on “Clear Cache” and “Clear Data”

This should solve it… however, sometimes the photos still appear! Before you throw your Android device out of the window in frustration – try this:

Android keeps a small thumbnail image of each photo you save; this is for faster working of the gallery application. Even when you delete the images and clear the cache, the thumbnails sometimes still appear in your gallery and give the impression the photos are still there.

These thumbnails are often stored on your device in a folder such as SDcard\DCIM\.thumbnails – also search for folders named after specific services causing you the problem such as Facebook, Dropbox etc. Once you find the offending thumbnails, delete them and follow the steps of clearing the cache again. There should be no trace of these photos on your devices gallery.

An alternative way of finding these thumbnails (and maybe easier as it’s less fiddly) is to connect your device to your PC/Laptop and use this to search your devices folders for the thumbnails. If you can’t find the thumbnails by trawling your devices file folders, then try searching “**.jpg” or “**.gif” or “**.png” to display all files of this type.

I resolved this problem on a few devices now, there seems to be no standard way which is guaranteed to work and involves some trial and error – I have found it to be as simple as deleting the thumbnails and clearing the Gallery cache, to deactivating apps altogether and clearing Gallery data. Sometimes i’ve had to clear Gallery cache before and after finding and deleting the offending thumbnails.

Has this guide worked for you and resolved any problems you was having? If you found this guide helpful or if you have other useful tips which could help other users accomplish removing unwanted photographs and/or albums – then i’d really appreciated if you left comments in the “Leave a Reply” section below.

**UPDATE – 5 June 2013** when my Samsung Galaxy Note upgraded to Jelly Bean from ICS, I found that all the thumbnails of my unwanted Dropbox photos were stored in a folder called “cloudagent”. I deleted the thumbnails, cleared the Gallery cache… but the photos reappeared in the “cloudagent” folder again. I found the Cloud Agent app via the Applications Manager menu and deactivated it, as it seemed to be constantly syncing with Dropbox and causing the thumbnails to reappear in the cloudagent folder. I then deleted the thumbnails from the cloudagent folder (again!), cleared the Gallery cache (again!) … and finally everything all seems to be in order. Deactivate the Cloud Agent app at your own risk, it doesn’t seem to have had an adverse affect on any of my apps or services but it may affect yours.

**UPDATE – 3 September 2013** if none of the above advice works (or any other advice left in the comments below) then how about doing away with your standard Android Gallery altogether….?? Have a look in Google Play at other gallery apps, there are some good ones – check the feedback and try something different. I recommend Quickpic.

>>>>more of my Google/Android blogs

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37 thoughts on “Remove unwanted photos and albums from your Android Jellybean Gallery

  1. Pingback: Product Review – Samsung Galaxy Camera | wilma

    • good question and not something i’ve experienced before – have you tried connecting your device to your PC/Laptop in order to search your devices folders for the thumbnails? try selecting your device and using using the search function to find “**.jpg” or “**.gif” or “**.png” files.

  2. unfortunately where you say there is a sync to tap none exists on my version of jelly bean. Any other way to remove photos and stop syncing with picasa?

  3. I can find no gallery app to clear the cache under setting s , application manager. Is there a way to remove just a few pictures?

    • if you follow the above instructions and only select the types of services which you dont want photos to sync with (Picasa for example) then it should work – the above instructions will not delete photos you’ve taken with your device

  4. Thank you so much! Worked perfectly on my Samsung galaxy s3. It was really annoying going to my gallery and having all my Facebook pictures there. So much more organized now. It was so frustrating not knowing how to delete them!!

  5. Thank you that was most useful. On my Samsung Galaxy S4 there is also an option in the gallery to select the source of thumbnails displayed in the gallery. In gallery settings, unticking picasa web albums will hide them, but still leave them there in case you did ever want to reveal them again without re syncing then all.

  6. Thank you! I succeed in deleting all my facebook photos from gallery by using all your instructions and on top of this I had to uninstall the facebook app. I didn’t succeed without removing facebook,because after clearing cache and data all my facebook albums were in gallery again in a few minutes. Unfortunetly I didn’t find any thumbnails ,I searched all folders.neither in the cloudagent I’ve deactivated. I reinstalled facebook,everything seemed to be ok now.

  7. Hi Marc,

    Thank you so much for your valuable information here. I finally succeeded by using the method in your very last paragraph (in red font) by deactivating the cloudagent and then deleting the cached files and clearing the cache in Gallery etc.

    However, even though this works a treat, unfortunately as soon as the device is restarted the problem returns again as before. I did reactivate the cloudagent after I had done everything before the restart and the Gallery seemed fine so it’s only after the restart it all seems to kick off again!

    Any idea how to permanently resolve this issue without having to permanently disable the cloudagent as I still want to sync Picassa Albums etc?

    Many thanks for your help, really appreciate it.

    Ciaran

      • Thanks for your prompt reply Marc and my apologies for not being more specific. My issue is with Dropbox folders appearing in the Gallery section even after removing the cloudagent files. I followed your instructions above and it work a treat removing all the unwanted Dropbox thumbnails displaying in the Gallery. Also when I re-enable the Cloudagent, just the folders/albums I want appear ie- Camera, Whatsapp, Picassa etc which is great.

        However when I restart my device then it all goes pear shaped again with all the unwanted Dropbox Thumbnails appearing in the Gallery. I don’t have Samsung Cloud Sync switched on either so it’s just this Cloudagent thing that’s causing the problem I think.

        Any help would be greatly appreciated!

        Thanks again.

        Ciaran

    • i’m not sure what version of Jellybean you have or what your device is – but if you go to your gallery and press the menu button, what accounts are listed?

      managing my gallery recently got a bit more difficult since I wrote this blog as the latest Jellybean update seems to have removed the ability to go to your devices settings page and manually select which accounts (Dropbox, Picasa, G+, etc) you want to kep syncing and which ones you dont.

      One alternative is to stop using your standard Android gallery altogether and download another gallery such as Quickpic – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.alensw.PicFolder&hl=en_GB – that way you can leave your cloudagent running and clutter up your Android gallery all it wants… as you won’t be using it!

      • Thanks again Marc for your help. You’re spot on, there doesn’t seem to be an option to deselect Dropbox in Gallery for syncing. I’m using the latest version of Jelly Bean on a Galaxy S4. Even though Dropbox is listed in the syncing options, it won’t allow to tick or untick the box.

        Downloading an alternative Gallery in Play Store never even crossed my mind! I’ve downloaded it already and it seems to work much faster too. Good riddance to that damn Cloudagent! :-)

  8. I have a kyocera elite. I cannot access preinstalled apps in the app settings to clear cache. i have had files and albums on there that i deleted the actual folders but cannot clear the cache! I even plugged in the phone and cannot find the violating thumbnail(s) album or files. I continually delete and take out the battery for like 10 minutes and they still reappear. HELP!

  9. I found n album on my S3 containing 233 images that I certainly had never put there!
    it was simply named ‘thumbnails’ and I could find no way in the gallery app to just DELETE a whole album.
    after much searching and googling, with the S3 connected to my pc, I found the folder named ‘thumbnailimages’, under the folder NEWSCANADA (or was it canadanews?)
    which one of several news programs I was trying.
    so I deleted the folder, AND the app.
    BTW, I keep sync turned off, so none of the suggestions here really applied.
    hope this helps someone else.

  10. I tried all that you wrote and still those pesky images remained. Then I discovered that Sparrow, an app from way back when when I was an iOS user, was caching and storing images. So guys, check for email clients or other offshoot radioactive mutants lurking on your Dropbox. After deleting that all problems disappeared.

  11. You are a GOD SEND. Thank you so much it worked and now the Dropbox documents (hundreds) are not there anymore!! So happy

  12. Thank you so much! So annoying recieving photo’s on my phone from Picasa when I have never had an account, it had photo’s on it I don’t even own anymore, strange!

  13. on my adroid huawei i recently recovered deleted photos vids sms an documents. i have stored these to my computer. when i went to my galery i discovered pics of apps and websites. did these appear in my gallery as pis because i visited those apps and web pages? or did i some how take pics of these apps and web pages and store them? HELP

  14. I tried everything you suggested but nothing worked. Then I noticed that for some reason all the photos had the picture of “Chrome”. I have never used Chrome before so I clicked on it and then went to photos/albums and there all my photos! I deleted everything and then went back to “Gallery” in the Note 8 and all the pictures are gone. Your article helped me a lot; thanks.

  15. i have a galaxy rush…i get through all the steps except for the last one…i click on gallery…but i cant clear data…all the info in storage section just says computing….so i force stopped…but nothing is happening either…help if you can

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