On Windows 10, those icons you see on files and apps are stored in the icon cache database to allow the operating system to display them quickly on the screen. The process of caching icons, instead of retrieving them from the source, helps to prevent your system from getting bogged down by the mere task of “showing icons”.
However, as the database grows, the odds of icon cache database getting corrupted also grows. When this happens, icons on your desktop and throughout the operating system may not render correctly or even appear broken.
Although Windows 10 doesn’t include an option to reset the database, you can still fix the problem using a few commands in Command Prompt.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to rebuild the icon cache database on your computer when they appear blank or broken.
How to rebuild the icon cache database
To rebuild the icon cache database on Windows 10, close any application that you may be running, and then do the following:
- Open Start and do a search for Command Prompt.
- Right-click the result and select Run as administrator.
- Type the following command to navigate to the icon cache database location and press Enter:
- Type the following command to verify the icon cache database files are at the location and press Enter:
The output of the dir command should list these database files:
- Type the following command to stop File Explorer and press Enter:
taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
Important: Once you terminate File Explorer, your desktop background and taskbar will disappear, leaving a black screen — but it’s OK, it’s only temporarily. You need to close File Explorer to be able to delete the icon cache files. Otherwise, you won’t be able to do it.
- Type the following command to delete the iconcache files and press Enter:
Quick Tip: If you get access denied trying to remove the files, you’re probably not running Command Prompt with as an administrator. Repeat these steps, but making sure Command Prompt starts with administrative privileges.
- Type the following command to verify that you successfully deleted the icon cache files and press Enter:
If you still see some iconcache files, then it’s likely that some apps are still running, which will prevent you from deleting the database files. Make sure to close them all, and repeat the steps.
- Type the following command to start File Explorer and press Enter:
- Close Command Prompt to complete the task.