How to Repair Icons in Windows Explorer

By James Stone

You can repair icons in Windows Explorer by accessing the hidden icon cache file from the Windows directory "ShellIconCache." This contains copies of default desktop icons and all other application icons seen in the graphical user interface of Windows. When the cache displays errors or is corrupted, icons will black out or display the wrong icon entirely. If this issue occurs, you can reset the icons back to the default settings.

Step 1

Click "Start" and then click "All Programs." Click the "Accessories" folder and then click the "Command Prompt" application shortcut. The Command Prompt window displays on your screen.

Step 2

Type "%SystemRoot%" to change to the Windows system folder and press "Enter."

Step 3

Type "attrib -h shelliconcache" and press "Enter."

Step 4

Type "del shelliconcache" and press "Enter" to delete the icon cache.

Step 5

Restart your computer and the default icons should be restored.

Tips & Warnings

  • The Windows program TweakUI is known to corrupt the Windows icon cache.