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Normally, to refresh the icon cache in Windows, we have to reboot.

Is there a way to refresh the icon cache in Windows 7/8 without rebooting?

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What have you tried? What happened? Why do you need it done? Are you talking about on Windows Explorer, Start Menu, task bar, where? Need more information – Canadian Luke Nov 3 '12 at 18:20
Yes I did... And that's why I'm asking for clarification. I saw this in the review queue, so I only read the answers now, but remember that this site is meant to also help visitors from Google or other search engines, as well – Canadian Luke Nov 3 '12 at 18:22
Normally, when we refresh the icon cache in Windows, we have to reboot, but my question and answer does it without a reboot.… – Elmo Nov 3 '12 at 18:27
@zuck May I ask why you deleted your answer? Does it not work any longer for Windows 8 as someone suggested in your source (tip credit)? – nixda Dec 13 '14 at 12:44
@nixda was trying something, just noticed it didn't get undeleted. – Elmo Dec 13 '14 at 13:11
up vote 147 down vote accepted


You can just run the following command to clear the icon cache:

ie4uinit.exe -ClearIconCache

For Windows 10, use:

ie4uinit.exe -show

Check this video for a demo.

[tip credit]

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Does not work on Windows 8.1. You have to delete IconCache.db as explained by @Techie007. – Helge Klein Jan 19 '15 at 20:05
@HelgeKlein it doesn't come with IE10... so only pre-IE10 OS'es have it. This includes Windows 7. – JasonXA Sep 7 '15 at 16:58
Definately doesn't work on 8.1. It runs but it doesn't clear the icon cache. – Pharap Nov 8 '15 at 7:15
For Windows 10, use the argument "show", mentioned in the same page (tip credit). – w32sh Apr 7 at 14:14
@Crazy Is it just a 1 liner? SHChangeNotify(SHCNE_ASSOCCHANGED, SHCNF_IDLIST, NULL, NULL); – Elmo Apr 16 at 21:32

The following way has worked since Vista; It requires an Explorer restart, but no reboot.

Short version: Stop all explorer.exe instances, delete the user's hidden IconCache.db file, and restart Explorer.

Long Version (there are other ways as well):

  1. Close all Explorer windows that are currently open.

  2. Launch Task Manager using the CTRL+SHIFT+ESC key sequence, or by running taskmgr.exe.

  3. In the Process tab, right-click on the explorer.exe process and select End Process.

  4. Click the End process button when asked for confirmation.

  5. From the File menu of Task Manager, select New Task (Run…)

  6. Type CMD.EXE, and click OK

  7. In the Command Prompt window, type the commands one by one and press ENTER after each command:

    CD /d %userprofile%\AppData\Local
    DEL IconCache.db /a
  8. In Task Manager, click File, select New Task (Run…)

  9. Type EXPLORER.EXE, and click OK.

instruction steps source

Warning: It's important that Explorer.exe not be running when you delete the IconCache.db file. If explorer is running, it will simply write out the current (corrupt) icons the next time it is shut down (e.g. when you logoff, shutdown, or restart).

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Awesome, it works for every windows icon, even configuration ones. Other methods only reset iconcs from files and folders – mikl Mar 16 at 15:04

There's a clean way to close the Explorer.exe instance which shows the taskbar and the Desktop icons.

You have to popup the classic Shutdown dialog window. The only common way I found to accomplish this is:

  1. Leave at least one pixel of Desktop background free of overlapping Windows, then click on it to focus on the Desktop itself (the one with the icons).

  2. Press Alt + F4 keyboard shortcut: then the classic Shutdown dialog will appear.

  3. Now, press and hold CTRL+ALT+SHIFT click on Cancel.

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Why does this work? What does CTRL+ALT+SHIFT click on Cancel do? – Dean Meehan Sep 2 '15 at 15:36
Also this: open the Windows 7 start menu, hold Ctrl-Shift down and right click in the empty space above the Shutdown/Logoff/Restart button (whichever you have configured as the default). A menu appears with "Exit Explorer" as an option. Click it and Explorer terminates. – Fran Nov 12 '15 at 15:38
If you use the Windows 7 startmenu trick it's important to make sure you close ALL File Explorer windows first! Then you can Exit Explorer from the Windows 7 start menu. First open command prompt. Next click on the start menu, hold Ctrl+Shift and right click right above the Shutdown button to expose the Exit Explorer sub menu option and click it. In the command prompt, type CD /d %userprofile%\AppData\Local then type del IconCache.db /a and last type explorer. – Arvo Bowen Apr 5 at 23:26
To get your start menu back, ctrl+alt+del then file: new task and enter explorer.exe – NextLocal 5 hours ago
  1. Open command console with admin privileges
  2. taskkill /IM explorer.exe /F
  3. CD /d %userprofile%\AppData\Local
  4. DEL IconCache.db /a
  5. start explorer.exe via Task Manager
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Create a .bat file and paste the following lines in it and then run it.

taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
cd /d %userprofile%\AppData\Local
del IconCache.db /a
start explorer.exe
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