FIX: All my desktop icons changed to Internet Explorer

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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  • Windows 10 features a well-optimized UI with many tools, such as shortcuts and icons, that you can use to quickly access programs.
  • Desktop icons are extremely useful as they allow you to quickly launch the programs you most frequently use.
  • But if your desktop icons turned into IE icons all of a sudden, don't panic and follow the steps listed in this guide to fix the issue.
  • Bookmark this collection of troubleshooting guides to check later on in case you're getting other desktop icon issues.
desktop icons changed to internet explorer

Did you notice that all your software icons changed to a single icon (Internet Explorer)? This can happen suddenly and it is caused by a conflict with the .Ink extension, and also possibly the IconCache.db file.

One user shared his concerns on the Microsoft Answers forum.

Recently, all of my icons on my desktop and in the start menu have changed to the Internet Explorer icon.  Also, when I checked my administrator files, they all end in LNK.  I am not able to go into any of my programs through My Programs.

In this fix article, we will explore a few proven methods to solve this issue. Read on to find out how.

Why did all my icons turn to Internet Explorer icons?

1. Delete the .Ink key file from Registry Editor

  1. Press Windows + R key on your keyboard
  2. Type ‘regedit’ (without quotes) in the Run box, and then press Enter.
  3. Inside the Registry Editor, use the folder tree on the left side of the screen, and navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER>Software>Microsoft>Windows>CurrentVersion>Explorer>FileExts>HKEY_CURRENT_USER>Software>Microsoft>Windows>CurrentVersion>Explorer>FileExts> Icons changed to internet explorer
  4. Inside the FileExts folder, search for the .Ink subfolder, and delete registry Icons changed to internet explorer
  5. Close the System Registry, and restart your PC
  6. Check to see if the problem persists, if it does, follow the next method

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2. Remove the IconCache.db file

  1. Close all open folders
  2. Click on the Start button
  3. Search for the folder Windows System > Right click on Command Prompt > More > Run as administratoropen CMD Icons changed to internet explorer
  4. To end the Explorer process, type in the following command taskkill /f /im explorer.exe , and press Enter
  5. Inside Command Prompt type CD /d %userprofile%AppDataLocal, and press Enter
  6. After this, type DEL IconCache.db /a ,and press Enter again
  7. Next, type ‘EXIT’ (without quotes) and press Enter 
  8. Next, we will restart the explorer process: go back to your Task Manager window, click on File, select Run new taskrun new task Icons changed to internet explorer
  9. In the pop-up window, type in ‘explorer.exe’ (without quotes), and press Enter
  10. Restart your computer

If you have any suggestions or want to give us your opinion on this fix, please use the comment section found below.

FAQ: Learn more about desktop icons

  • How do I get new icons for my desktop?

To add new icons for your desktop, open the Settings page, go to Themes and then scroll down to Desktop Icon Settings. To change the desktop icon design, simply click on the option Change desktop icon.

  • What format is an icon file?

Icon files are stored in the ICO file format which is an image format specific to Windows. Basically, an ICO file is a small picture that acts as a shortcut to a predefined file or program.

  • Where are Windows icons stored?

All Windows icons are stored and located in the system 32 folder. The patch to follow is this C:\Windows\system32\SHELL32. dll location.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2019 and has since been updated for freshness and accuracy.