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Fix broken icons and reset icon cache in Windows 10

If icons in your Windows 10 File Explorer look strange or broken, your icon cache might have become corrupt. This issue is very common for all Windows versions. In this article we will see what to do to fix broken icons and reset the icon cache.

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To show icons faster, Windows caches them into a file. This special file contains icons for many apps and file types, so File Explorer doesn't need to extract the icons for known file extensions and apps. This allows File Explorer to work faster, but it has an annoying side effect. If the cache ever gets corrupted, Windows displays wrong icons. Some files in File Explorer and the Desktop can stop showing the right icons or get a blank "unknown file type" icon. Some shortcuts can display the incorrect icons. To fix this, you need to reset the icon cache.

Edit: there is a better way to reset the icon cache and fix broken icons. Read this article:

Fix broken icons (reset icon cache) in Windows 10 without reboot

 

Unfortunately, there is no special button or option in Windows 10 to rebuild the icon cache. Despite this being a fairly common issue, Microsoft didn't provide any tool bundled with the operating system to fix it. To reset the icon cache in Windows 10, there are two methods available:

Option one. Delete the corrupted icon cache in Windows 10

  1. The icon cache file is hidden in Windows so if you have set hidden and system files to not show, you will have to show them. To do this, open Control Panel.
  2. Then, open Folder Options and go to the View tab. Select the option Show hidden files, folders and drives. Also uncheck the option Hide protected operating system files. Then click OK and close Control Panel.
    Folder Options - Hidden and system files
  3. Press the Win+R keys together on your keyboard to open the Run dialog.
  4. In the Run dialog type %localappdata% and press Enter.
  5. Your local app data folder (C:\Users\<your user name>\AppData\Local) will open. Locate the iconcache.db file. Delete this file.
    Iconcache.db
  6. Now restart the Explorer shell or log off and log on again.

You are done with the first method. If a logoff does not work, try restarting Windows after deleting Iconcache.db. However, your problem might be that the icon cache file on disk is not corrupted but Windows is still showing incorrect icons because it loaded the wrong icons in memory. In that case, try the next option.

Option two. Reset the in-memory icon cache in Windows 10 with a small freeware app

We will use a third party tool especially designed to refresh the shell icon cache.

  1. Download Winaero Tweaker.
  2. Run it and go to Tools\Reset Icon Cache:
    Winaero Tweaker reset icon cache
  3. Now every time you want to refresh the icon cache, click the button "Reset Icon Cache".

That's it.

Tell us in the comments which method worked for you or if you know of another way to fix corrupt icons. Note that despite these methods, your Windows 10 Start Menu might continue to not show some icons for desktop apps. This is a known problem with the Windows 10 Start Menu. On a number of systems, we have seen that the Start Menu shows blank/empty white icons for desktop shortcuts.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

24 thoughts on “Fix broken icons and reset icon cache in Windows 10”

        1. Hi. I know how it looks.
          Try to do the following:
          Open regedit.exe
          Go to the key:
          HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer
          On the right, delete the string value named “29”.
          You can refer to this post.
          For some reason, the shortcut overlay icon file cannot be found on your hard drive. Deleting the 29 value will restore the default overlay icon.
          Finally, press Win+R and type/paste this command to the Run box: ie4uinit -show. This will refresh your icons instantly.

          1. Thanks for the quick reply Sergey! There is no result for 29 value. all i see is (default) REG_SZ (value not set)

          2. Sergey thanks for your help man! i will donate for sure lol. i have cleared thumbnail cache as well and still wont work. Also SOME of my icons dont show. i made another video so you can see this. in this example spotify’s icon doesnt show neither does adobe acrobats icon. https://www.useloom.com/share/c4076046f05f436094eb2343713b7389

          3. I see.
            Now I am running out of ideas.
            From what I see in the Start menu, it is some issue with Microsoft Store.
            Re-registering the apps with defective shortcuts should resolve the issue.
            However, I have no idea how it can be connected with thumbnails.
            What is your default image viewer app?
            Try to switch temporarily to another one (e.g. to the stock Photos app) and see how images will look.

            Edit: The following command will re-register all the Store apps (run it in PowerShell opened as Administrator):

            Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers -Name * | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml” -Verbose}

            There is no harm in trying it.

          4. okay i tried it and I got icons!!! no thumbnails though lol. I should have probably mentioned that this is a built computer. could it be that there is an issue extracting an image? i made another video
            https://www.useloom.com/share/b3fc963803e745cf915370844ea1fd7e

          5. I think some Registry entry related to file associations is messed up.
            Can you try the following please:
            Create a new user account (limited or administrator,any).
            Sign in with that new account and check out if the thumbnails appear as expected?

          6. Okay Sergey, I have signed in with a different account and all images are fine! but i tried running this command in power shell and got an error. I am recording all attempts here is the video: https://www.useloom.com/share/f65d2a6a60ed4d17a161e5d46ab58a79

            Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers -Name * | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register “$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml” -Verbose}

          7. The error message indicates that PowerShell needs to be open as Administrator. It is OK, and I don’t think that you need to execute this command once again, since you did at already under your primary user account.

            Well, let’s force removing your thumbnail cache. Quite possible there is some issue which prevents cleanmgr from its work.
            First of all, do not delete your secondary user account.

            Sign in with your primary user account.
            Open File Explorer.
            Paste to the address bar the following text “%userprofile%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer” and delete all the files which name begins with “thumbcache”.
            This will physically remove the image thumbnail cache.
            Restart Windows 10.

            See the image files.

            If this doesn’t help, then
            1. Sign in with your secondary user account.
            2. Run regedit.exe
            3. Go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.png.
            4. Export this key to a reg file using the right-click menu – Export.
            5. Do the same for HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.jpg.
            6. Do the same for HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.bmp.
            7. Do the same for HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.bmpfile.
            8. Do the same for HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.pngfile.
            9. Do the same for HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.jpgfile (or jpegfile, I do not remember this key’s name).
            10. Sign in with your primary user account.
            11. Double click all the reg files you’ve created.
            12. Restart Windows 10.
            This definitely should help. At least thumbnail and icon options for image files should be set to their defaults.

        2. Hi Sergey, i mad a quick screenshare video you can watch of this issue. i already ran winaero tweaker and didnt work either. thanks https://www.useloom.com/share/b5b059ce376d419191eda46f57a9a06f

  1. To fix this, open the .LNK properties and click the “Change Icon” button. Then change the path to the icon file to the SHORTENED pathname. For example, for “C:\Program Files (x86)\. . .”, change it to “C:\PROGRA~2\”.

    1. Better follow the instructions in the article.
      In your case, you are solving the issue with a single shortcut whose icon is cached.

  2. > Microsoft didn’t provide any tool bundled with the operating system to fix it.

    Huh? This is been around for 5-10 years:
    ie4uinit.exe -ClearIconCache
    ie4uinit.exe -show

  3. Hi Sergey Tkachenko
    i am using Winaero Tweaker 0.0.16.0
    Navigation Pane – Default Items >> i untick This PC icon >> Log out account >> Icon removed
    Now i want put it back but it don’t work
    Tick icon >> log out >> Log in again
    Desktop icon check uncheck & everything on internet i tried it wont show up again
    Please Help me

    1. Hi.
      Please open the Registry editor.
      Go to

      HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}\ShellFolder

      If you the Attributes DWORD – delete it.

      Now, go to
      HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\CLSID\{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}
      Set System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree DWORD to 1.
      Congrats, you just restored the defaults.

      1. Thanks
        Works perfect
        1 more thing when at Navigation Pane – Custom Items >> add shall location >> add Desktop or Documents or Downloads it will show Double icons (one of them work slow after click and other is normal) i don’t understand this glitch
        if i use folder location again it’s slow
        Ok if you ask why i am doing this ?? adding Desktop with Custom Items or simply i can add in Customize This PC menu
        Because i want a simple layout, when i click on My PC it should show only drives nothing else
        so can you make this double thing disappear

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