Random Thoughts

Removing tags in Vista Windows photo gallery

Written by Gail Bjork

How to mass delete tags in the Vista Windows photo gallery.

Hard drive partitionI’m quite pleased with the Vista Windows photo gallery but had a heck of a time with unwanted tags.

The first time you open the gallery it reads and records all tags associated with images in your pictures folder. Well, I didn’t know this and hundreds of tags appeared from stock photos I keep in the folder.

To my chagrin, I discovered I could only delete the tags manually…one at a time. UGH, hours of work. I began the time consuming task of deleting the tags, only to have them reappear. Evidently, the metadata from the stock photos was read again.

I spent hours over several days researching how to remove the tags in bulk, including searching the Microsoft Database. Nada! Finally, someone in a digital photography forum explained how.

For others who find themselves in the same predicament, there are two basic steps:

  • Remove the tags from the image files.
  • Delete two hidden files.

Removing tags from images in Windows Vista

  1. Select all pictures that you want to remove tags.
  2. Right-click with the mouse on any one of the photos and select properties.
  3. Next select details, click on tags and remove tag information and then press OK. The tags will be removed from the selected photos.
  4. Exit the Windows photo gallery. This is important!

Delete two hidden Windows photo gallery files

First, turn on the folder option so hidden folders become visible. Don’t forget to make them invisible again after you complete the process.

Control Panel > Folder Options > View Tab > Hidden Files and Folders > Show hidden files and folders

The two files that have to be deleted are pictures.pd4 and NavTree.state. They are located in a hidden folder.

[drive letter]:Users[user name]AppDataLocalMicrosoftWindows Photo Gallery

Delete both files and then open Windows photo gallery again. Windows will re-generate all photo thumbnails and tag information for those images that have tags.

Now, wasn’t that fun?!

I realize that not everyone uses stock photos but if you do, hope you’re reading this BEFORE you first open Vista Windows Photo Gallery. If you don’t want to delete the tags, store the photos in a zipped folder or on a separate partition on your hard drive.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.


  • Sorry to hear about your problem. Since Digicamhelp deals primarily with digital cameras, not operating systems, I suggest you find an online computer forum and post your question. Or search the support database of your computer manufacturer.

  • I imported images from my camera then played in windows photo gallery and then burn to DVD.
    After I burned to DVD, I deleted the folder.
    but my search box still shows these images. but cannot open. When I went to image properties, it says tags as ‘My Album’
    but cannot permanently delete.
    Please help to permanently delete.

  • Perfect.
    This was what I was looking for and was listed in the first few links on google.

    Thank you Gail.

  • Thanks for the additonal tip! Since I buy a good deal of stock photos, the problem often presents itself again. I’m going to try your tip too!

  • This was driving me nuts when I found your blog. Here’s what worked for me: create a new tag, like “OLD TAGS”. Then in the left pane, select all the other tags (unfortunately you have to click on each with the control key pressed) and move them en masse under OLD TAGS. Then select OLD TAGS, right click and choose delete. Hey Presto!

  • In that case, you may have to remove them manually. If you still have the images with tags on the hard drive the tags will remain listed. I’ve removed all images that I don’t want the tags to show on a portable hard drive. I also made a partition on my hard drive for stock photos, move the ones I need to the desktop (they are copies). then delete them. If however, you open them with Windows Photo Gallery, the tags will be listed again. I’m not sure why the files you mention are not showing. You may be able to get some additional help in this forum.

  • I have tags where the pictures have been deleted so I can’t select the picture to remove tags.    When I looked in “show hidden files and folders”  there was no “pictures.pd-4” nor “NavTree.state” so I still have lots of tags that I can’t get rid of  no matter how may times I delete them.