How to fix desktop blank icons on Windows 10/11 [Full Guide]

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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  • Some users have been baffled by Windows 10 blank icons shortcuts on their desktops.
  • The blank Windows 10 desktop icons still open their assigned software but it's still a disturbing problem.
  • A straightforward solution is to manually replace the icons but this can be pretty time-consuming.
  • You can also use some line-command tools as shown below to fix the blank icons in Windows 10.
desktop blank icons windows 10 11

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Some users have posted on Microsoft’s support forum about blank desktop icons. For those users, the Windows 10 desktop displays blank, white icons instead of software icons.

However, desktop shortcuts do still open their software. This is what one user said of the issue in a forum post:

I am facing a problem that the icons of some shortcuts like XBOX, Weather, Calendar, etc. have a white blank icon only. But the apps are working properly by clicking on the shortcuts.

In today’s guide, we will explore this issue and discuss how to fix blank icons in Windows 10.

Why do blank icons appear on Windows 11?

There are many icon-related issues that you can encounter, and many reported missing Taskbar icons on Windows 11. This is usually caused by a bug in a system, and a quick update usually fixes these problems.

Unfortunately, other issues can appear as well, and many reported that Windows 11 Taskbar is empty. This can happen if your profile is corrupted, so recreating it might be the best option.

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In some instances, Windows icons are not showing at all, but this issue can be easily resolved by following the instructions from this guide.

How can I fix the blank desktop icons in Windows 10 and 11?

1. Manually change icons

  1. First, try manually changing the blank icons on the desktop by right-clicking their software shortcuts and selecting Properties.
    Shortcut tab windows 10 blank icons
  2. Click the Change Icon button on the Shortcut tab.
    Change Icon window windows 10 blank icons
  3. Then you can select an alternative icon on the Change Icon window.
  4. Alternatively, click Browse to choose a downloaded icon.
  5. Click the OK button.
  6. Select the Apply option.
  7. Press the OK button to exit the window.

2. Run DISM and System File Checker scans

  1. Click the Type here to search button on the left side of Windows 10’s taskbar.
  2. Input cmd in the search utility that opens.
  3. Select Run as administrator under Command Prompt to start it with administrator privileges.
  4. Type the following command and press Enter: DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth
  5. Then input sfc /scannow and press Return to initiate your system file scan.
    sfc /scannow command windows 10 blank icons
  6. Wait for the system scan to finish. Restart Windows if it repairs system files.

3. Rebuild the icon cache

  1. Open File Explorer by pressing the Windows key + E keyboard shortcut for it.
  2. Click the View tab.
  3. Next, select the Hidden items checkbox.
    The Hidden items option windows 10 blank icons
  4. Open the following path: C:\Users\(your user folder)\AppData\Local folder
    IconCache.db file windows 10 blank icons
  5. Right-click the IconCache.db file to select the Delete option.
  6. Click the Recycle Bin icon on the desktop.
    The Recycle Bin windows 10 blank icons
  7. Click the Empty Recycle Bin option.
  8. Restart Windows 10 after deleting the IconCache.db file.

This process will automatically rebuild the icon cache and restore your icons so the problem should be solved.

4. Disable the tablet mode

  1. To disable tablet mode in Windows 10, click Settings on the Start menu.
  2. Click System to open further options.
  3. Click Tablet mode on the left of the Settings window.
    The tablet mode setting windows 10 blank icons
  4. If tablet mode is selected, select Use desktop mode on the When I sign in menu.
  5. Restart Windows after selecting Use desktop mode.

5. Restart Windows Explorer

  1. Right-click on the taskbar and select Task Manager.
  2. Look for the Windows Explorer process and click on it.
  3. Click on the Restart button from the bottom right corner.

This procedure will reload the icon cache from File Explorer and also its components. As a consequence, your desktop icons should go back to their original colors.

6. Rollback Windows 10

  1. Press the Windows key and R at the same time to launch the Run accessory.
  2. Input rstrui in the Open box and click the OK option.
    System Restore window windows 10 blank icons
  3. Select the Choose a different restore point option if the System Restore window includes it.
  4. Click the Next button to proceed.
  5. Click Show more restore points to fully expand the list of restore points.
  6. Select a restore point.
    Show more restore points option windows 10 blank icons
  7. You can click Scan for affected programs to see what software a selected restore point removes.
  8. Click Next to continue.
  9. Select the Finish option to roll back Windows 10.

7. Reset Windows

  1. Open the search utility in Windows 10.
  2. Type the keyword reset into the search utility.
  3. Click Reset this PC to open Settings as in the shot directly below.
    The Reset this PC Get started button windows 10 blank icons
  4. Click the Get started button to open the Reset this PC window.
  5. Click the Keep my files option.
    Keep my files option windows 10 blank icons
  6. Press the Next and Reset buttons to restore Windows 10 to its factory settings.

The above resolutions are among the most likely fixes for blank desktop icons. A lot of users have been able to fix desktop icons with the System File Checker or by rebuilding the icon cache.

If any of your icons are corrupted, check out our detailed guide on the topic.

If these fixes aren’t enough to resolve the problem, we recommend that you try restoring or resetting Windows 10.

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