What to do if desktop icons are flashing in Windows 10/11

by Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Troubleshooting Expert
Aleksandar's main passion is technology. With a solid writing background, he is determined to bring the bleeding edge to the common user. With a keen eye, he always... read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • Even if desktop icons flashing might seem trivial, it is actually concerning.
  • Running a system scan will quickly get rid of the desktop icons blinking on Windows 10.
  • You can solve the flashing desktop icons on Windows 10 by updating your GPU drivers.
  • If your desktop icons are flickering, another quick fix would be changing the registry.
desktop icons flashing

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Flashing desktop icons was quite prominent on one of the older Windows 10 iterations, as an update brought calamity to the users.

The future patches seemingly resolved it, but some users are still bothered by this annoying issue that is hard to ignore and can actually completely mess up your system.

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.

Why is Windows Explorer causing icons to flash?

Usually if there’s a glitch with your system, your Taskbar icons will be flashing. This can be fixed by repairing your installation or by installing the latest updates.

If your screen is flashing on Windows, then it’s possible that you have a graphics card issue, so you might want to update your graphics card drivers to the latest version and check if that helps.

This issue can also occur if Windows keeps refreshing, but luckily, today we’ll show you what to do if desktop icons are flashing on Windows 11 and 10, so be sure to keep on reading.

How do I fix the desktop icon flashing on Windows 10 and 11?

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

1. Run SFC and DISM

  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.

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, so you’ll need to use SFC and DISM.

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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.

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. You can use Driverfix to automatically scan for the latest compatible driver for your GPU and other important software.

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3. Edit the registry

  1. Open Registry Editor from the Windows Search bar.
  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.
  5. Save changes and look for improvements.

Finally, if none of the previous steps helped you, we can try 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.

4. Change the wallpaper

  1. Select the image that you want to set as a background.
  2. Right-Click on it.
  3. From the selection menu, select Set as desktop background.
  4. Check if the problem persists.

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 sorted it out.

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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