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Occasionally, when I click the up-arrow to show all items in my taskbar, I can see tens of identical icons as shown below:

75 icons in my taskbar, all a black "O" on a white background with a blue circle around.

They disappear very rapidly, before I can even mouse-over or click them to find out what they are, but I did manage to take this screenshot before they were all gone.

How can I figure out what the cause of them is? None of my running processes or installed programs appear to use this icon. (Or even better, does anyone recognise the icon?)

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    It's hard to say, given the poor resolution of the picture, but have you tried to restart your PC? Does it appear again? I see you've got several cloud storage providers, so it could be one of them signaling an issue with syncing your folders. I don't think it's Dropbox, but I don't use iCloud nor OneDrive, so it could be either one of those two. – user1019780 May 8 '20 at 14:35
  • Looks a bit like two penguins looking at one another. I would think you could find whatever the process that is in task manager by looking for the icon, but when they disappear, they might be exiting, and thus task manager might not show them either. – Tim G. May 10 '20 at 22:03
  • @Tim The fact that they disappear as he mouses-over indicates they are leftover icons from a closed process. – somebadhat May 11 '20 at 11:19
  • @Didier I don't think it's Google Drive or OneDrive, they both have different icons. Zooming into the screenshot it looks like the letter O, encircled in a blue halo. No idea what it could be; @ somebadhat I think you're right that they are leftover from a closed process. Is there a way to see recently closed processes? – Mark Butler May 11 '20 at 23:08
  • I can't zoom in on the picture, that's the problem. Even if I save it on my PC and open it with Paint or other, the definition isn't sharp enough to see the icon clearly, but I agree: the simple fact that they disappear when you hover the mouse pointer over them means they're remnants of a closed process. Is it still happening, by the way? – user1019780 May 12 '20 at 6:51
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You have a task that is repeatedly crashing and is being restarted.

Each restart creates a new taskbar icon but the old one isn't removed as the task ended with a bang. When you click the caret to show the icons, the taskbar refreshes and so clears the old icons.

When I had this problem, I found the culprit by looking in the Event Viewer logs for task terminations due to error. This may work in your case and that may give you a clue.

  • Event viewer is a great idea, I'll check that out next time it happens. Should I be looking in Windows Logs > Application? – Mark Butler May 13 '20 at 10:13

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