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Freedesktop.org states that .sh_thumbnails folder is used for shared thumbnails so that a thumbnail is only generated once for mutually used files. I copied my thumbnails to that folder in a USB drive and altered those images so that I know the shared thumbnails are used but it generated thumbnails again and didn't use the ones I put in the .sh_thumbnails.

Note: I cleaned the thumbnail cache in advance. I tried using Thunar and PCManfm

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Xfce's tumbler thumbnailing component does not implement this part of the specification, and neither does pcmanfm (in libfm). And neither does libgnome-desktop, which is used by Nautilus in GNOME.

In fact according to Debian Code Search there are only two apps which do implement the shared thumbnail directory at all.

(Considering that even the thumbnail-spec authors missed this section in v0.8.0 when updating for the XDG Base Directory specification…)

You might be able to achieve a similar result by mounting an overlay filesystem over your regular thumbnail directory, specifying it as both the mountpoint and the upper directory and the "shared" location as the lower directory.

sudo mount -t overlay overlay ~/.local/share/thumbnails -o upper=$HOME/.local/share/thumbnails,lower=$HOME/.sh_thumbnails,workdir=$HOME/.cache/thumbnails_overlay_workdir

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