What to do if desktop icons are flashing in Windows 10

Aleksandar Ognjanovic
by Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Troubleshooting Expert
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This was quite prominent on one of the older Windows 10 iterations, as an update brought the calamity of desktop icons flashing. The future patches seemingly resolved it, but it seems that some users are still bothered by the error at hand.

User reports state that they are unable to do a thing on their PC as soon as desktop icons start flashing in Windows 10. With that in mind, here are some solutions we suggest following to pursuit the resolution.

How to fix desktop icon flashing on Windows 10

  1. Run SFC and DISM
  2. Check GPU drivers
  3. Change the wallpaper
  4. Edit the registry

Solution 1 – Run SFC and DISM

Firstly, restart your PC. If that doesn’t help, open Task Manager and kill Explorer.exe. Start it again and look for changes. If your desktop icons are still flashing, move forward with the troubleshooting.

Flashing desktop icons might look like a minor nuisance but the reason for isn’t always something neglectable. Namely, this might point towards a system corruption of some kind. In order to check for possible corruption and resolve it accordingly, you’ll need SFC and DISM.

These are built-in tools run through the elevated Command Prompt and, while the System File Checker (SFC) is usually enough to deal with the majority of issues, we suggest running DISM as well.

Here’s how to do it:

    1. In the Windows Search bar, type cmd.
    2. Right-click the Command Prompt and run it as an administrator.
    3. In the command line, type the following command and press Enter:
      • sfc /scannow
    4. After it’s done, in the same window, type the following commands and press Enter after each:
      • DISM /online /Cleanup-Image / ScanHealth
      • DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealthcmd dism
    5. Reboot your PC when everything ends.

Solution 2 – Check GPU drivers

Another possible reason for flashing desktop icons is, among others, unfunctional software support for your display adapter. Generic drivers administered via Windows Update are, most of the time, not best-suited. What you need to do is get yourself a proper driver provided by the GPU OEM. These are easy to find even if you have a legacy GPU.

Follow one of these links to find and download proper drivers and associated software for your GPU:

Restart your PC after the installation and look for changes. Hopefully, desktop icons won’t keep flashing.

Solution 3 – Change the wallpaper

Some users resolved the issue in the simplest of manners. They either used another wallpaper for the desktop background or changed the format of the current one. The JPG format is seemingly causing some issues with the desktop, so users renamed the image at hand to the JPEG format and that sort it out.

You can easily change a desktop background by simply right-clicking on the image and choosing the “Set as desktop background” from the contextual menu.

Solution 4 – Edit the registry

Finally, if none of the previous steps helped you, we can try with a more complex approach. This is done by accessing the Registry Editor and replacing editing a few inputs. Have in mind that meddling with the registry can cause a lot of issues and is by no means suggested doing before creating a system restore point and backing up your registry.

Here’s what you need to do:

    1. Open Registry Editor from the Windows Search bar.registry editor
    2. Backup your current registry state.
    3. Navigate to Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop.
    4. Edit the values for the following values in this manner:
      • ForegroundFlashCount value to 1.
      • ForgroundLockTimeout value to 0.registry flashing desktop icons
    5. Save changes and look for improvements.

With that said, we can conclude this article. In case you have any additional questions or suggestions, do us a favor and post them in the comments section below.


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  • On step 4 under solution 1 there is no space after / ScanHealth it should be /ScanHealth. You get error 87 if you have that space.