Today, I was observing WhatsApp app behavior.

By using a camera, I took a photo. That photo got stored in the camera directory of my cell phone (obviously that is normal behavior). And after that, I shared the same photo to one of my contacts using WhatsApp. After sharing, I deleted that photo from the camera directory and checked my WhatsApp contact (to whom I shared the photo) it was still in the list of messages.

Then I found on Google that WhatsApp also stores sent images in the internal directory as well. Then I deleted the same photo from WhatsApp's internal memory and checked the WhatsApp contact (to whom I shared the photo), I found that there was no real photo but a blurry image of the same photo was there (that is called thumbnail).

I tried to find out where it was getting that thumbnail. I searched my whole cell phone directory or even WhatsApp media directory as well, but could not find the thumbnail.

My question is, what is the location in the cell where WhatsApp stores the thumbnails? I am assuming that WhatsApp keeps the thumbnail URL and downloads on demand. Is that right? Any help?

  • I guess the thumbnail is stored in the database itself as a blob, which is at /data/data/com.whatsapp/databases/msgstore.db
    – Gokul NC
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 14:15
  • I can see them here /data/data/com.android.providers.contacts/files/photos/. You can verify
    – beeshyams
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 10:21

3 Answers 3


WhatsApp stores the thumbnail as BLOB in the database in message_thumbnails table under thumbnail column.

  • this is correct. For anyone wanting to populate a iOS->Android sqlite db with thumbnails, its insert into message_thumbnails (thumbnail, key_remote_jid, key_id) values (x'<hexstring>, '[email protected]', '2AD6F9891DFF121C126D'););
    – wbob
    Commented Aug 11, 2021 at 1:32
  1. Go to Explorer/file manager of your mobile, and scroll down to the WhatsApp folder.
  2. Open it and go to WhatsApp Media.
  3. Activate the Show hidden files option (usually a 3-dot symbol at the top-right corner).
  4. Open the .sent folder.
  5. Search for your photo.
  • 2
    This is NOT correct, thumbnails are NOT stored in "whatsapp images\.sent" folder
    – elady
    Commented Dec 27, 2019 at 12:36

Check the thumbnails table in the database at /data/data/com.whatsapp/databases/msgstore.db.

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