How to fix Windows 10/11 Recycle Bin icons not refreshing

by Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
Matthew is a freelancer who has produced a variety of articles on various topics related to technology. His main focus is the Windows OS and all the things... read more
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The Recycle Bin’s desktop shortcut usually automatically changes to alternative full or empty icons when users delete files or clear the bin. However, some users have posted on Microsoft’s forum about their Recycle Bins not refreshing to empty or full icons. When they clear their Windows Recycle Bins, the desktop shortcuts for them don’t refresh to the empty bin icons. That bug can arise for Recycle Bins with custom or default icon sets.

How Can Users Fix Recycle Bin Icons not Refreshing?

1. Edit the Registry

  1. Users have fixed Recycle Bins with custom icons not refreshing by editing the DefaultIcon key. To do that, launch Run by pressing the Windows key + R hotkey.
  2. Input ‘regedit’ and click OK in Run to open the Registry Editor.
  3. Next, open this registry key path: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\CLSID\{645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}\DefaultIcon. Users can copy and paste that path into the Registry Editor’s address bar with the Ctrl + C and Ctrl + Vhotkeys.DefaultIcon key windows 10 custom recycle bin icon not refreshing
  4. Select the DefaultIcon key.
  5. Next, double-click the (Default) string on the right of the Registry Editor to open the window below.
    Edit String window windows 10 custom recycle bin icon not refreshing
  6. Enter ‘,0’ after the icon file path as shown in the snapshot directly below. For example, %USERPROFILE%\Downloads\Seanau-Email-Trash.ico would become: %USERPROFILE%\Downloads\Seanau-Email-Trash.ico,0.An Edited string windows 10 custom recycle bin icon not refreshing
  7. Then repeat the above steps for the empty and full strings in the DefaultIcons key. Then the empty and full strings should also include ‘,0’ at the end of their value data paths much the same as the (Default) string as in the image directly below.Edited DefaultIcon strings windows 10 custom recycle bin icon not refreshing

2. Rebuild the Thumbnail Cache

  1. Rebuilding the thumbnail cache might fix Recycle Bin icons not refreshing. To do that, open File Explorer by pressing the Windows key + E hotkey.
  2. Then open this folder path in File Explorer: C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer.
  3. Select all the .db files in the folder.The Explorer folder windows 10 custom recycle bin icon not refreshing
  4. Click the Delete button.
  5. Restart Windows after deleting the .db files in the Explorer folder.

3. Select Empty and Full Recycle Bin Icons

  1. This is a resolution more specifically for fixing default Recycle Bin icons that aren’t refreshing. Right-click the Windows 10 desktop and select Personalize.
  2. Click Themes on the left of the window, and scroll down to the Desktop icon settings option.The Themes tab windows 10 custom recycle bin icon not refreshing
  3. Click Desktop icon settings to open the window shown directly below.Desktop Icon Settings window windows 10 custom recycle bin icon not refreshing
  4. Select Recycle Bin (full), and press the Change Icon button.
  5. Select the empty Recycle Bin icon in the Change Icon window, and click the OK button.Change Icon window windows 10 custom recycle bin icon not refreshing
  6. Select Recycle Bin (empty), click Change Icon, and choose the full Recycle Bin icon. Click the OK button to exit the window.
  7. Click the Apply button.
  8. Then try deleting something to the Recycle Bin to see if the icon changes to empty, or empty the bin to see if it refreshes to the full icon. If it does, return to the Desktop Icons tab and change Recycle Bin full and empty so they show their correct icons.

4. Reset the Recycle Bin

Resetting the Recycle Bin via the Command Prompt might also fix its icons. Enter ‘cmd’ in Run’s Open box, and press the Ctrl + Shift + Enter hotkey. Input ‘rd /s /q C:\$Recycle.bin’ in the Command Prompt, and press the Return key.

The rd command windows 10 custom recycle bin icon not refreshing

So, that’s how users can fix Recycle Bin icons that don’t refresh. Then the Recycle Bin’s desktop icon will refresh when users delete files to or clear their bins in Windows.


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