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

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 how to fix broken icons and reset the icon cache without reboot in Windows 10.

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Here is some more info why icons become broken.

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 or if Explorer does not refresh the icon cache regular enough, 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.

In our previous article, we covered how to reset icon cache using a third party tool or with a restart of Explorer. Here is a better way to save your time and reset the icon cache instantly.

Here is how the broken icon cache looks in action. For my Firefox Nightly browser, Windows 10 shows a blank icon:
Firefox icon broken

To fix it, do the following:

  1. Press Win + R shortcut keys together on the keyboard to open the Run dialog.
  2. Type the following in the Run box:
    ie4uinit -show

    run ie4uinit show

  3. This will fix the broken icon cache and fix icons instantly:Firefox icon fixed

Use Winaero Tweaker

You can an option of Winaero Tweaker which is 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".

The following video shows this trick in action:

Tip: You can subscribe to Winaero at YouTube.

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17 thoughts on “Fix broken icons (reset icon cache) in Windows 10 without reboot

  1. Phil

    does it work on windows 7?

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      in Windows 7, use
      ie4uinit -ClearIconCache

      Reply
  2. David H Johnson

    I want to use this opportunity to thank you for all of your wonderful tips, and tricks. Your page is one of the very first I check every morning!

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      Thank you for your kind words!

      Reply
  3. Frent

    I tried it all and nothing works. The issue is the icons for the apps downloaded from the App Store on Windows 10; the icons are okay.

    Reply
    1. Antony Upward

      Yes this is the problem I have had since the very early days of Win 10… and nothing I’ve tried has brought them back… all the “modern” app icons are blank… everything else is ok. Rebuilding icon cache makes no differnce

      Reply
  4. John Bebb

    Hi Sergey; – I have two corrupt (folder) short cut Icons on my (Win 10) desktop: –
    1/ Implies there is an Adobe pdf file open (which is definately NOT true).
    2/ Implies there are two picture files open (which again; – is definately NOT true).

    I have tried to solve with Winaero Tweaker but the problem remians. I have also tried deleting the existing short cuts and creating new ones… but the problem remains.

    Please; – any suggestions? Thank you.

    Reply
  5. Martin

    Dear Sergey,

    works perfect. THANK YOU!

    Martin

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      You are welcome.

      Reply
  6. Evan

    Neither ie4unit -show nor ie4unit -ClearIconCache works!!

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      which Windows 10 version you are running?

      Reply
  7. Peter AV.

    Don’t know why, but in a middle of nowhere, the folder icon on ‘Open’ in My Computer is all blanked out (not transparent), tried my best to fix it and nothing. Any good sujestions? Here’s the issue: https://imgur.com/a/X9Q4SYS

    Reply
  8. Nicolete

    This trick seams to have been broken in an update (for Windows 10) since; any ideas for alternate solutions?

    – Much love, Nicolete.

    Reply
      1. Nicolete

        I does seam to work, thank you!

        However, you should add a note to that page that you also delete the version ending in “.backup” if it appears, it didn’t work when I tried it without.

        – Much love, Nicolete

        Reply

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