How to Fix Missing Desktop Icons on Windows 10?

by Ugnius Kiguolis - -
12

Question

Issue: How to Fix Missing Desktop Icons on Windows 10?

Having an odd problem which I do not know how to fix. For some reason, all icons, except for Windows Store and Microsoft Edge, are gone. I did a scan with anti-malware and ran sfc /scannow. Know nothing else that I could try. Please help.

Solved Answer

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Windows icons are used for documents and programs. Since these icons stayed almost similar through a long period of Windows development, each Windows icon has been adapted by the PC users and work as a navigation tool. All of them are saved in an icon cache, which is why they can be shown quickly instead of loading in a slow manner. Unfortunately, but due to various reasons icons may be displayed incorrectly or even go missing. Therefore, it may be difficult to find needed applications or files. According to PC users who have experienced no icons bug, this has happened after installation of updates or performance of system modification. In this case, you should try to reset icon cache. We’ll explain how this can be done in the next paragraph.

How to Fix Missing Desktop Icons on Windows 10?

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This bug may occur due to the fact that icon cache got out of date. Therefore, the main solution to restore missing desktop icons is related to resetting icon cache.

  1. Navigate to C:\Users\\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer (‘your username’ should be replaced with your login name).
  2. This folder should contain a long list of icon cache files, for example:
    iconcache_16.db
    iconcache_32.db
    iconcache_48.db
    iconcache_96.db
    iconcache_256.db
    iconcache_768.db, etc.
  3. In order to reset icon cache, you have to remove all the files that are located in the icon cache folder. While it sounds simple, it’s actually not. Icon cache files are exploited by Explorer, so they can’t be simply deleted. To rebuild the Icon Cache, you have to navigate to the C:\Users\\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer to open File Explorer.
  4. Again, instead of ‘your username) type in the actual login name of your Windows account.
  5. Click Shift key and hold it.
  6. While holding Shift, right-click on the Explorer folder, and select Open command window here.
  7. When the command prompt window opens, type dir.
  8. You should see iconcache and thumbcache files that we have mentioned above.
  9. Right-click on the Windows taskbar and select Task Manager.
  10. Right-click on the Windows Explorer and select End Task.
  11. After that, close Task Manager and ensure that no applications are running except Command Prompt.
  12. In the Command Prompt window, type del iconcache*, and press Enter.
  13. Once the command is executed, type dir again to check if there are not remaining icon cache files.
  14. In case you have found some files still present, it means that you have left some other applications running the background, so you should repeat the procedure and make sure that all apps were disabled.
  15. Once done, click Ctrl + Alt + Delete and select Sign off.
  16. Then, click the same keys and select Sign in. All icons should be in their normal places.

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About the author

Ugnius Kiguolis
Ugnius Kiguolis - The problem solver

Ugnius Kiguolis is the founder and editor-in-chief of UGetFix. He is a professional security specialist and malware analyst who has been working in IT industry for over 20 years.

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