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?

  • 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 – personal_cloud Jul 28 '19 at 18:56

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.

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  • 3
    Just deleting C:\Users(User Name)\AppData\Local\IconCache.db seemed to clear it up. Thanks. – Brad Patton Sep 10 '15 at 19:09

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

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    This is the correct answer. – Nick Hodges Sep 23 '18 at 22:48
  • No, this didn't work for me. – personal_cloud Jul 28 '19 at 18:50
  • Worked great for me! Did not have to delete anything. – htm11h Jan 6 at 13:48

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.

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

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    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 '18 at 1:25
  • This is the simpliest way so I really don't see the reason why it is bad. – hoggar Nov 18 '18 at 12:09
  • @Ramhound I don't see the answer this has been suggested?! Is it deleted? – Albin Nov 18 '18 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 '18 at 14:21
  • @Albin - No, Clicking Refresh and hitting F5 both Refresh the desktop. – Ramhound Nov 18 '18 at 14:48

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