I have a program pinned to the taskbar. After I upgraded the program (I think) the icon broke. What I get now is what you see below; that ugly default application icon thing.

Broken icon

If I unpin it, I get the correct icon. If I then right-click on it, the icon breaks again. If I pin it again, still the broken icon. Unpin again and back to good icon. Very annoying. How can I fix this?

  • 2
    This was my first question I asked on here actually. Check out 62508. – Unfundednut Aug 8 '10 at 14:44
  • Hm, didn't seem to fix it. – Svish Aug 8 '10 at 15:22
  • You didn't mark the answer. – Det Dec 13 '15 at 8:11

12 Answers 12


Based on @dash17291's answer, here is a slightly faster procedure (no reboot) that worked for me:

  1. Open Windows Explorer, go to %userprofile%\AppData\Local, delete IconCache.db. (This file is hidden, so it you don't see it, you will need to adjust your Windows Explorer settings to show hidden files.)

  2. Open Task Manager, go to Processes tab, highlight explorer.exe, and click End Process. Your desktop will "disappear."

  3. Still in Task Manger, select File > New Task (Run...), type explorer.exe, and click OK. Your desktop should reappear, with the previously missing icons.

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    Genius...works. – temporary_user_name Feb 17 '14 at 16:16
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    An anonymous user edited my answer to add "This works for Win 8.1 as well, just checked." Doesn't that kind of update belong in a comment? I have not checked it so I don't feel comfortable signing my name to it. – Mark Berry Jun 12 '14 at 16:01
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    IconCache.db was invisible on my system. I used DEL %userprofile%\AppData\Local\IconCache.db /a in the command prompt – onewhaleid Feb 18 '15 at 1:28
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    Still works like a charm. Windows 7 professional 64bit. If you can't see IconCache.db, make sure to go to Folder Options, View and check "Show hidden files) in the Control Panel. – trenten Aug 26 '16 at 19:35
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    Works on windows 10 – Adsy2010 Jan 22 at 22:44

Rebuild the Icon Cache:

Source: How to Rebuild the Icon Cache in Windows (http://www.sevenforums.com/tutorials/49819-icon-cache-rebuild.html)

To Manually Rebuild the Icon Cache using the Command Prompt

  1. Close and save anything that you are working on. This command will kill explorer and restart the computer when completed.

  2. Open a command prompt in Windows 7 or Windows 8.

  3. In the command prompt, Copy and paste each command line below exactly as is one at a time and press enter after each command.

    WARNING: The last command will restart the computer, so be sure to close and save anything that you are working on first.

    • ie4uinit.exe -ClearIconCache
    • taskkill /IM explorer.exe /F
    • DEL "%localappdata%\IconCache.db" /A
    • shutdown /r /f /t 00
  4. The IconCache.db file has now been rebuilt.

  5. If the icons are still not displaying properly, then download and merge the ICO option in this tutorial for Windows 7 or Windows 8 to restore the default associations of .ico (icon) files.
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  • Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. – Daniel Beck Aug 12 '12 at 18:01
  • Most likely this will not solve the issue since it's, as answered above, probably embedded in the installer and not pointing towards the actual exe – simme Aug 16 '12 at 12:53
  • Worked for me, thanks. I lost several icons after a network disconnect killed the icons coming from the server. I already knew from the shortcuts' properties that the icons were available in the .exe's. Couldn't figure out why it wasn't displaying them, but forcing a recreation of iconcache.db fixed it. – Mark Berry Nov 7 '12 at 3:02

You could have unpinned the link in the taskbar and again pinned the application to the taskbar. The icon would have updated itself.

The reason why this happened was icons for applications installed by Windows MSI installers are present with the installer itself. Because of this, when you upgrade the program, the link to the icon breaks. The only way to fix this is either recreate the shortcut/pinned link or update the icon for the shortcut itself by Right Click → Properties → Change Icon...

e.g.: This is a link to the icon for Nokia PC Suite: %SystemRoot%\Installer\{92D1CEBC-7C72-4ECF-BFC6-C131EF3FE6A7}\ARPPRODUCTICON.exe. Note that the icon resides with the installer and not linked to the icon embedded inside the executable.

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  • None of the above answers worked but this did! – DrCord Jul 31 '15 at 15:26

The answer from dash17291 works but rebooting is not necessary.
Just enter & run


from command prompt to restart explorer & reload taskbar.

For numerous reasons (like not having memorize this stuff) I prefer to create a batch file.

@echo off
title Fix Broken Taskbar Icons.
color 0E                            ::yellow text/black background
echo This will kill all explore windows and rebuild icon cache
echo (Note: sometimes Explorer takes a few moments to reload)
echo Hit Ctrl-C to abort or 

taskkill /IM explorer.exe /F        ::/IM = imagename 
                                    ::/F =  forcefully terminate the process(es)    
CD /d %userprofile%\AppData\Local   ::/d  = change drives if necessary
DEL IconCache.db 
start explorer.exe                  ::start = don't wait for completion
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  • This worked for me, but I had to add the parameters /f /ah to the DEL command, otherwise it would be reported as not found. – Axel Magagnini May 5 '15 at 0:52

I had this issue, and found the root cause, immediate work-around, and long term fix:

Root Cause: if your combined PATH environment variables are more than 2048 characters, then it (and WINDIR) stop being visible in many contexts. This may cause start menu items/programs to be "not found", even though they are in fact there, and work if run manually from windows explorer or command prompt.

Interim Fix (maybe): I've had mixed results with this, but if you open Task Manager (Ctrl-Alt-Del Task Manager) and quit Explorer (note desktop will go blank and start menu goes away), and then run Explorer again, all the problems temporarily disappear and things work properly. However, this is only a temporary solution.

FIX/Solution: Reduce the PATH variable to be under 2048 characters in total. Using Windows Explorer or via command prompt, run


Click the Environment Variables button at the bottom and review the entries. Deleting unused or not needed entries so the total is under 2048 characters in total (from the PATH variable) should fix the issue. You can then retry the interim fox and all should be well, and once you safely reboot, the solution should stick.

This applies to Windows 7, Vista, XP. Not sure about 8 or 10 yet.

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I made some progress on the issue (though I don't necessarily like the answer). I found that this occured with such things as my steam.exe, and my lunascape.exe, etc... I tried this, weird, fix.

Go to the program's location (i.e. C:\program files\Steam\) and find the suspect program (the one that the icon isn't working for).

Right-click on it and select 'create shortcut' [I know it sounds stupid] then pin THAT to your taskbar INSTEAD of the actual exe.

For some reason, this fixed the problem for me, and I hope this fixes the problem for anyone else as well.

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Found that this article was helpful where it states:

Instead, let’s create new, customized icons for our taskbar. To do this easily, open the folder that contains all of your pinned icons by entering the following in the Explorer address bar:

%appdata%/Microsoft/Internet Explorer/Quick Launch/User Pinned/Taskbar

You may just want to goto the Quick Launch with this address:

%appdata%/Microsoft/Internet Explorer/Quick Launch/

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I tried most of the other answers and had some success one of my icons changed back. In the end I went to the actual game icon folder and copied it to a different folder on the desktop and then pointed the icon there by right clicking choosing properties and then pointing to the icon you have copied elsewhere. Worked for me!

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I experienced this problem also for the Startmenu and the Taskbar.

I could fix it by restoring files the folder %WINDIR%\Installer which I had previously removed in order to save disk space on the system drive.

Of course this only helps for programs/apps that use MSI aka Windows Installer.

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Nothing worked for me exept this solution

This tutorial show you how to reset the windows register for a particular extension file.

My problem was appearing with Atom text editor, I couldn't see the icon on file (in windows explorer) anymore when Atom was set as default editor for this file type. (My problem was only with Atom). Atom was the default text editor for my .html file. I downloaded the default html register and merge it to mine (run the reg file).

An alert appear saying that the html register was changed, windows associated back Microsoft Edge to default html file handler.

And then I set Atom as default html editor again and icons appear !! The only html register fix all my problem, I was able to see atom's file icon again on all the atom's associated extensions, and on all the new associated extension.


I deleted %userprofile%\AppData\Local\IconCache.db before but it didn't work at this time, maybe the two combined makes it work for me.

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i lost a quick launch application icon. i went into the program's folder, found the .exe, which was the same as the missing icon, and then with a right click "send to" desktop shortcut, then pinned to taskbar. that was my little problem and my successful solution.

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Open explorer.exe right-click on the drive that Windows is installed on and click Properties.

Now click on Disk Cleanup, in the opened window tick Thumbnails under Files to delete: and click OK, now you can close this window.

Open Task Manager by right-clicking on the Taskbar and choose Start Task Manager, go to Processes tab and find explorer.exe then click End process.

Now click on File on the top-left corner and click New Task(Run...) type in explorer.exe you shouldn't have any missing icons now.

Some application's icons may not show at this stage so it's best to restart Windows.

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