The Sims Wiki
The Sims Wiki
This tutorial only applies to The Sims 3.

One common problem in The Sims 3 is save game bloat, where the size of save game files grows to titanic proportions, to the point of causing save and load game errors. Even if no errors occur, large file sizes can increase the time it takes to save and load a game, and can cause a noticeable drop in game performance.

While save game file sizes are, in theory, a problem in all The Sims games, it became especially prominent in The Sims 3 with the introduction of the memories system in patch 22. Unlike the memory system in The Sims 2, a snapshot is taken when a memory is created, which is stored in the Sim's scrapbook. These snapshots take up a lot of space and quickly bloat save game file sizes. Worse off, even if the snapshots are deleted in-game, they are not actually removed from the game files, so they will continue to bloat the save files. Fortunately, disabling the memory system completely solves this problem, although it will not affect existing snapshots.[n 1]

Even without the memory system, save game files will still naturally grow over time. The game keeps very small snapshots of Sim portrait poses in the game files, known as SNAP files. New SNAP resources are generated every time the CAS (Create a Sim) system does something (Which includes Create a Sim actions, as well as Sims changing appearances, changing clothes, change of mood, etc.), and are not removed when they are no longer needed; instead, new ones are simply generated. While SNAP resources are generally small, they can still build up over time.

In both cases, a third-party tool called S3PE is needed to properly remove these resources. This game guide will show players how to reduce the size of their save game files, which can help reduce the risk of save and load game errors and potentially increase saving and loading times.

Deleting IMG resources[]

The IMG resource is used to store in-game snapshots. These include the aforementioned memory snapshots, as well as camera snapshots, still life, portrait paintings, et al. These do not include screenshots taken with the in-game screenshot taking tool. Deleting these snapshots in-game does not actually remove them from the game files, hence why it is necessary to also follow this guide to eliminate them for good.

This section of the game guide was derived largely from this guide on NRaas Industries. The method used in that guide is more "nuclear" and involves deleting all of the IMG resources in your save game. This will reduce file size, but it will also remove paintings and camera snapshots, which may not be a desirable option. The guide includes instructions for moving these resources to a safe location before deleting. If you have a lot of these IMG resources, then this approach may be desirable; however, for the sake of simplicity (or if you do not have a lot of in-game snapshots that you want to keep), this guide will offer an alternate approach that involves manually going through the IMG resources and deciding which to remove.

Open S3PE (if you do not have it, you will need to download and install it first) and go to the "Open" dialog.

Deleting IMG guide - img 1.png

Navigate to your Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 3\Saves folder, which is where your saved games are housed. Select your save game folder from the list shown (The names shown here correspond to the names of the saves shown in the main menu in-game).

Deleting IMG guide - img 2.png

Open that folder, and then open the file with the .nhd file extension. The name of the file varies by world, but it will always begin with the name of the world. There will always be at least one .nhd file in each save game folder, and one for each sub-neighborhood in that save. If you have more than one of these .nhd files, open the one that begins with the name of the home world you're playing (e.g. Sunset Valley, Moonlight Falls, or in this case, Bridgeport).

(If you are not seeing any .nhd files, click on the "Files by type" dropdown menu and select the "All Files" option)

Deleting IMG guide - img 3.png

In the panel on the bottom of the screen, type in "IMG" in the text box just under "Tag", check the checkbox to the left of it, and then click "Set". The row of text boxes below that (which are greyed out and cannot be modified) should mirror the contents of the text boxes above.

Deleting IMG guide - img 4.png

Click on the "Filter active" checkbox. Your screen should now look something like this:

Deleting IMG guide - img 5.png

Click on the "Group" tab at the of the table to make it sort by that.

Deleting IMG guide - img 6.png

The values in the Group column are cryptic, but they are not random! Here's what the values mean:

  • 0x0269D005: memory snapshots, camera photos, still life, and portrait paintings.
  • 0x024B9FCA: seasons greeting card photos.
  • 0x02722299: prom pictures.
  • 0x02BD69A0: photo booth photos.

(The above list may be incomplete. If in doubt, inspect it and see if it's a snapshot that was taken in-game.)

Click on the resources to inspect them. A preview of the resource will appear on the right. Check to see if it's a snapshot of something taken in-game, such as this prom photo shown below.

Deleting IMG guide - img 7.png

If it's something you do not want to keep, or if you know that you have deleted the image in-game and want to expunge it for good, right-click on the resource and select "Deleted". The resource will be struck out.

Deleting IMG guide - img 8.png

Repeat for any other images you want to get rid of. Remember to look at what Group each resource belongs in, so you have an idea of what you're looking at. Don't delete anything that's not in the list of values above! Once you're done, save the package file.

Deleting IMG guide - img 9.png

Now go to the Open dialog and select the "TravelDB.package" file.

Deleting IMG guide - img 10.png

Follow the steps above to filter and sort the contents here. Delete the resources here that you've also deleted from the .nhd file (If you don't see them here, you can just skip them).

Deleting IMG guide - img 11.png

Save, and then exit.

Deleting IMG guide - img 12.png

Deleting SNAP resources[]

Deleting SNAP resources is a lot easier; you can simply go nuclear and delete all of them, and you won't lose anything. You should be aware, however, that after deleting these SNAP resources, the game will run rather sluggishly the next time you load that save file as the game will need to regenerate all of the SNAP resources it really needs. This will clear once the game is done generating the important files, which may take a few seconds to a few minutes to complete. You should still delete SNAP resources every once in a while to keep their quantities under control.

Again, load up S3PE and open the .nhd file of the save game you want to clean.

Deleting IMG guide - img 3.png

At the bottom, click on the text box under "Tag", but this time write "SNAP" instead of "IMG". Tick that checkbox, click on "Set", and then click "Filter active".

Deleting SNAP - img 1.png

Click on the "Resource" drop-down option at the top and click "Select All". This may take a while as the program needs to select all of the SNAP resources, which can easily number in the thousands.

Deleting SNAP - img 2.png

Click on the "Resource" menu again and choose "Deleted". Once again, the resources should all be struck out.

Deleting SNAP - img 3.png

Save and exit S3PE.

Deleting SNAP - img 4.png

Note that, after you delete the SNAP files, you may notice that the family photo shown on the main menu for the save games you've cleaned will instead display a placeholder image. This is normal, and will be fixed when you load and save the game.

Placeholder icon after deleting SNAP - TS3.png


  1. There have been reports that the in-game function to disable memories does not always work. If it does not work for you, there are mods to help. Source.

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