Scripts and Tips#

I sometimes come up with scripts or things I need to remember that don’t really fall under any other category. Normally I’ll post scripts and tips in the relevant place, but if I can’t figure out where else to track it, here’s a dump of the “extra stuff.”

Disable Thumbs.db on Windows#

The Thumbs.db file in Windows hasn’t been needed since before Windows Vista but they keep it around for legacy app compatibility. The system creates the files whenever it generates thumbnails for files in a folder (like in a pictures folder) but then it locks the file and makes it so you can’t delete the folder. Windows Media Player will also generate these things if it plays any of the media in a folder, so if iTunes is managing your music you’ll end up with a bunch of empty folders that just have Thumbs.db in there.


You can tell Windows to stop generating Thumbs.db. Do that. It will save a lot of pain and heartache.

Clean Up Empty iTunes Music Folders#

I manage my music collection with iTunes but sometimes Windows leaves file system cruft in there, like if I quickly play a song it’ll sometimes download the album art and stick it in the folder.

I wrote this little PowerShell script to recurse through my music folders and nuke any folder that only has images or the Thumbs.db file in it. Set the $location at the top and run the script. It will prompt you before deleting anything, but it does delete stuff, so, you, know, you’re totally on your own if you mess something up. Make sure you have backups.

There’s a weird bug where if a folder has square brackets [] in the name then it can’t delete the folder. I don’t have too many of those so I didn’t bother debugging it to make it perfect. Just be aware.

$location = "\\ILLIGHOMESERVER\Music"

function Get-FoldersToDelete
        $blacklist = @(".jpg", ".gif", ".ini", ".db")
        if($folder.StartsWith($location + "\Movies\"))
        $childDirs = Get-ChildItem $folder -Directory
        if($childDirs.Count -gt 0)

        $files = Get-ChildItem $folder -File -Force
        if($files.Count -eq 0)
            Write-Host "$folder is EMPTY."
            Remove-Item $folder -Confirm

        $groups = $files | Group-Object -Property Extension
        $delete = $true
        $groups.Name | ForEach-Object { if($blacklist -inotcontains $_) { $delete = $false } }
            Write-Host "$folder only has blacklist files:"
            $files | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Name | Format-List
            Remove-Item $folder -Confirm -Force -Recurse

$folders = Get-ChildItem $location -Recurse -Directory | Select-Object -ExpandProperty FullName | Sort-Object -Descending -Property Length
$folders | ForEach-Object { Get-FoldersToDelete $_ }

Edit Chapters in MKV#

On one TV series I have, the TV episodes were all combined into one title on the disc. When you wanted to watch a single episode, the player would play for a certain time rather than playing a single title.

Unfortunately, Handbrake doesn’t let you convert based on time - it wants chapters in the title. To accommodate for that, I had to manually create chapters of the correct length in the MKV file ripped by MakeMKV.

MKVToolNix is a set of tools that can modify MKV files. You can use that to edit the MKV file to have the correct chapters so Handbrake sees them and can properly convert.

Convert AAC to MP3#

My daughter has a cheap MP3 player and likes music on it. I created a playlist in iTunes with stuff she wants, then I can drag the files from the playlist to a temporary location.

From there, I have to convert the M4A (AAC/ALAC) files into MP3. I use ffmpeg and a setting that produces a reasonable quality MP3. ffmpeg copies the metadata over automatically.

ffmpeg -i "file.m4a" -c:a libmp3lame -q:a 4 "file.mp3"