How to fix corrupted desktop icons in Windows 10

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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  • Icons are graphical representations of programs and they make it easier for users to identify which program is which.
  • Unfortunately, system corruptions can cause your icons to be corrupted as well, meaning they either disappear, become replaced by blanks, or are all replaced with the same generic image.
  • We've covered this article, as well as many others like it in our dedicated hub for troubleshooting System Errors, so make sure to check that out as well since you never know when you may need it.
  • For more interesting guides, take a look at our Windows 10 Fix page.
fix corrupt pc desktop icons

Windows users often complain about corrupted desktop icons. The icons that Windows uses for your documents and programs are saved in an icon cache, so they can be displayed quickly instead of having to slowly load them every time.

If for any reason, one or more Windows icons are corrupted, you can repair them by rebuilding the icon cache. Here is how to fix corrupted desktop icons in Windows 7 and Windows 10, as the approaches are different.

1. Rebuilding the icon cache in Windows 10

  1. Use Command Prompt
  2. Manually delete the icon cache

2. Rebuilding the icon cache in Windows 7

  1. Use a .bat file
  2. Use Command Prompt
  3. Delete the icon cache database
  4. Use third party software

How do I fix corrupted desktop icons in Windows 10?

In order to rebuild the icon cache in Windows 10, you have to delete all the icon cache files that appear in this folder.

It is not as simple as clicking on them and pressing Delete, though because those files are still in use by Windows Explorer and you cannot just delete them as you would delete a normal file.

In Windows 10, the icon cache file is located in: C:/Users<your username>/AppData/Local/Microsoft/WindowsExplorer.

Note: Replace <your username> with the actual login name for your Windows account.

Before proceeding to rebuild the icon cache, close and save anything that you are working on. Now choose one of the solutions described below.

1. Use Command Prompt

If you chose the alternative of using, Command Prompt, please follow the steps below:

  1. Navigate to the Explorer folder on your C: drive
  2. Right click on Explorer and select Open command window here
  3. Type dir in order to make sure you are in the right place. You should see your iconcache files.
  4. Right click on the Windows taskbar and select Task ManagerTask Manager
  5. Select Windows Explorer within Task Manager and then End task.
  6. Once you close Windows Explorer, the taskbar and Start menu will be invisible but do not worry, it is a normal phase.Task manager windows exporer
  7. Type del iconcache* into the Command window.
    • The asterisk after iconcache is necessary to make sure all files with names that start with iconcache will be included in the delete operation
  8. Type dir to make sure the icon cache files are gone.
    • If one or more icon cache files are still listed, it means some applications are still running in the background so close them and repeat the procedure again, if necessary.
  9. Restart your computer

2. Manually delete the icon cache file

  1. Open Windows Explorer, click the View tab and put check mark next to Hidden items
  2. Navigate to the following folder:
    • C:Users<your username>AppDataLocal. <your username> is your account user name on the PC and C is the drive letter of the drive where Windows 10 is installed.
  3. Under Local directory, locate the file named IconCache (IconCache.db)
  4. Right-click on the file and then click DeleteDelete-icon-cache
  5. Right-click on the Recycle Bin icon on the desktop and then click Empty Recycle Bin to clear IconCache.db and other files
  6. Close all running applications and restart your computer

By following the steps described above, you will manually delete the icon cache file and restart your computer to let Windows 10 automatically create the new icon cache file.

How do I fix corrupted icons in Windows 7?

1. Use a .bat file

In order to rebuild your icon cache file, please follow the steps described below:

  1. Open Notepad
  2. Paste the code below
    • taskkill /F /IM explorer.exe
    • cd /d %userprofile%AppDataLocal
    • attrib –h IconCache.db
    • del IconCache.db
    • start explorer.exe
  3. Save as IconFix.bat
  4. Go to where you saved the file and double click on itbat file

2. Use Command Prompt

If you feel more comfortable this way, you can use Command Prompt:

  1. Go to Start and search cmd
  2. Right-click and select Run as AdministratorCommand Prompt Run as administrator
  3. Run the following commands:
    • <strong>cd /d %userprofile%AppDataLocaldel IconCache.db
    • start explorer.exe
    • attrib –h IconCache.db
    • taskkill /F /IM explorer.exe

3. Delete the icon cache database

  1. Open any folder
  2. Enable show hidden files option to see the Icon Cache file by going on the View tab, and enable Hidden items option from Show/ Hide sectionShow-hidden-items
  3. Navigate to C:/Users/username/AppData/Local folder and then delete IconCache.db file. Replace <your username> with the actual login name for your Windows account.
  4. Restart your computer to rebuild the icon cache

Icon cache is a hidden file located in the Local Folder. All you need to do is delete the IconCache.db file and restart your PC so that Windows creates a new IconCache.db file upon system restart.

4. Use third-party software

If you do not feel comfortable doing any of these procedures by yourself and would rather prefer software to safely delete the icon cache file, feel free to do this as there are many online tools that could help them with that.

In Windows 7, the icon cache file is located in: C:Users<your username>AppDataLocalIconCache.db

Note: Replace <your username> with the actual login name for your Windows account.

You can rebuild the icon cache in Windows 7 in order to fix your corrupt desktop icons following one of the methods described above, depending on which one you find easier to do.

We hope we were able to help you to return your desktop icons to normal with one of the solutions described above. Let us know your comments in the section below.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in April 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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