How to fix empty icons in Windows 10

Do you keep encountering empty icons in Windows 10? The problem can be narrowed down to a handful of desktop shortcuts. Or it can be widespread and affect other areas, such as the Start menu and taskbar.

Considering how essential icons are in helping you differentiate between applications and file types, you need to fix that ASAP.

Work your way through the list of solutions below to fix empty icons in Windows 10. If you’re also having issues with blank thumbnails, check out our guide to fixing thumbnail previews in Windows 10 for more solutions.

Restart Explorer

If the problem with empty icons in Windows 10 only recently appeared, the best way to start is by restarting File Explorer. That might solve the problem for good.

1. Press CtrlShiftesc to open Task Manager.

2. Select More detail to extend the default view of Task Manager.

3. Search and select Windows Explorer below the Process tab.

4. Select Restarting† The desktop and taskbar disappear and reappear in a few seconds when the operating system restarts File Explorer.

5. Close Task Manager.

If this doesn’t resolve the issue, restart your computer before continuing with the rest of the repairs.

Reset the icon cache

If restarting File Explorer or your PC doesn’t help, a corrupt icon cache is the most likely reason for the problem. Deleting the icon cache can help. The fastest way to do that is to run several commands through an elevated Command Prompt console.

1. Press WindowsR to open the Run box.

2. Type cmd and press CheckShiftEnter† That loads the Command Prompt with administrator privileges.

3. Type the following command and press Enter to close Explorer:

taskkill /f /im explorer.exe

4. Run the two commands below one by one to delete the icon cache:

cd %homepath%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer

share icon cache*

5. Run the command below to restart File Explorer:


Restart your computer and Windows 10 will start rebuilding the icon cache over time.

Update the display driver

An outdated display driver can cause graphical abnormalities and prevent Windows 10 from displaying icons correctly. Check for newer versions and install them by going to the hardware manufacturer’s website. Or use a free driver update utility to get the video card drivers on your computer up to date.

In addition, checking the properties of your graphics card through the Device Manager in Windows 10 also allows you to identify the driver version. You can also install all downloaded updates (if you’re having trouble installing normally) or revert to an earlier driver version (if the problem started after the most recent driver update).

1. Press WindowsX or right click on the Get started knob. From the power user menu that appears, select: Device Manager

2. Expand Display adapters and double-click your video adapter to open the Properties panel.

3. Switch to the Driver to view driver details and options for updating or rolling back the display driver.

Update Windows 10

Buggy or outdated system files is another reason that can prevent the desktop, taskbar or Start menu from working properly. Installing the latest updates can fix things like empty icons in Windows 10.

1. Open the Get started menu and go to SettingsUpdate & SecurityWindows Update

2. Select Check for updates

3. Select To download or to install to apply available updates.

If you’re having trouble updating Windows 10, learn how to fix Windows Update.

Update App

If the problem is limited to a specific icon or shortcut related to an application, try updating it. Open the More menu in the Microsoft Store (select the three-dot icon) and select Downloads and updates to install the latest updates for Microsoft Store apps.

For apps downloaded outside of the Microsoft Store, look for any update options in the app. For example, some programs, such as iTunes, also have special update managers that you can access directly from the Start menu.

Reinstall or repair the app

If updating an app doesn’t help, try repairing or reinstalling it. Depending on the program, you may have the option to do both.

1. Press WindowsX and select Apps and Features

2. Find and select the appropriate app.

3. Select Advanced options or To process

4. Select Repair to repair the installation.

If reinstalling the app doesn’t do anything (or the option isn’t available), select remove to uninstall the app. Then you need to download the program again from the Microsoft Store or the developer’s website.

Set a custom icon

For empty icons in Windows 10 that appear on the desktop, you can try to customize them. You can use any of the pre-built icons in Windows 10 for that.

1. Right click on an empty icon and select Properties

2. Switch to the Shortcut tab and select Change icon

3. Choose an appropriate icon or select the To leaf through icon to select a downloaded icon file.

4. Select Okay

5. Select Applythen Okay

Check for malware

If empty icons continue to plague your PC (or if the problem returns after a while), we recommend taking the time to rule out malware.

Use the built-in Windows security applet or a special free anti-malware program to find and remove malicious software on your computer.

Run SFC and DISM Tool

If none of the above solutions work, try running the System File Checker and DISM tool. Both command line tools help fix system errors and stability issues in Windows 10. They can help fix issues that cause blank icons in Windows 10.

1. Open an elevated Command Prompt console.

2. Type the following command and press Enter to run the System File Checker:

sfc /scannow

3. After the System File Checker has scanned the system, type the following command to run the DISM tool:

dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth

The DISM tool can take a significant amount of time. After that, restart your computer and check if Windows 10 starts displaying the icons correctly again.

What else can you do?

The above solutions should have helped you to fix empty icons in Windows 10. However, if the problem persists, you may want to: roll back the operating system until you didn’t have the problem. You can also try Reset Windows 10, especially if empty icons keep appearing throughout the GUI (Graphical User Interface). But it probably won’t come to that.

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