Upgraded to Windows 10 a couple of weeks and just noticed that almost all of the icons on my desktop have a small red X in the lower-left corner. The recycle bin and some documents seem to be the exceptions.

Don't know if this occurred right after the upgrade or more recently.

Desktop icons with red x

Any ideas on what this is supposed to indicate?

  • 1
    I'm not allowed to answer due to insufficient reputation, but in my case this problem was not caused by the icon cache, but by an automatic update to OneDrive. The problem is solved by turning off Files On-Demand as described here Jul 28, 2019 at 18:56

4 Answers 4


Sounds like the Icon Cache needs to be rebuilt.

According to Windows 10 Forums,

The icon cache can sometimes become corrupted causing the icons of files to display incorrectly or distorted. When this happens, the icon cache needs to be deleted to reset and automatically recreate it.

There is also a tutorial there to walk you through it.

  • 3
    Just deleting C:\Users(User Name)\AppData\Local\IconCache.db seemed to clear it up. Thanks. Sep 10, 2015 at 19:09
  • 6
    Click anywhere on the Desktop and press F5.
    – Setup
    Sep 14, 2020 at 9:07
  • Setup's comment works. Seems to be the easiest solution
    – Coder14
    Oct 26, 2020 at 7:01

Right click desktop and choose "refresh". It will redraw all your icons and remove the gray (or red in your case).

  • 3
    This is the correct answer. Sep 23, 2018 at 22:48
  • No, this didn't work for me. Jul 28, 2019 at 18:50
  • 1
    Worked great for me! Did not have to delete anything.
    – htm11h
    Jan 6, 2020 at 13:48
  • 1
    You can refresh your desktop by pressing F5.
    – Setup
    Sep 14, 2020 at 9:07

Your Windows Shortcut icon likely got changed.

Try resetting the icon back to its default. In the following key, set the string value 29 to %windir%\System32\shell32.dll,-16769: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Icons.

Logoff for the change to take effect.

Source: Option 3 of Seven Forums - Shortcut Arrow Change, Remove, Restore

Note: While written for Windows 7 and 8, this should work in Windows 10 as well.


Press F5 while you are on the desktop (this should refresh the desktop and all icons).

  • 4
    This was previously suggested by another answer, and two additional answers, that was deleted due them being a duplicate of the existing answer.
    – Ramhound
    Nov 14, 2018 at 1:25
  • 1
    This is the simpliest way so I really don't see the reason why it is bad.
    – hoggar
    Nov 18, 2018 at 12:09
  • @Ramhound I don't see the answer this has been suggested?! Is it deleted?
    – Albin
    Nov 18, 2018 at 12:35
  • @Albin, I had the same question, but apparently f5 is a shortcut to refreshing the desktop, which JF Gagnon's answer and two deleted ones suggested already via a different route (rt-click menu). So this answer would make more sense as a comment on, or edit to supplement, Gagnon's answer.
    – fixer1234
    Nov 18, 2018 at 14:21
  • @Albin - No, Clicking Refresh and hitting F5 both Refresh the desktop.
    – Ramhound
    Nov 18, 2018 at 14:48

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