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How to rebuild your icon cache for Windows Vista and 7

May 30, 2013

You may need to rebuild your icon cache in Windows Vista or 7 if system or application icons disappear, or become mixed up. While this is a particularly rare occurrence diagnosing the problem and finding a solution for those less experienced can often be difficult.


Screenshot of Windows 7 taskbar displaying missing icons

The following 11 steps will delete your icon cache:

  1. Close all applications and file explorer windows
  2. Press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC to open Task Manager
  3. Click the Process tab, highlight Explorer.exe and select End Process
  4. Click End Process in the pop-up confirmation box
  5. From the application menu, click File and select New Task (Run…)
  6. Type CMD.exe and click OK to open the Command Prompt
  7. %userprofile% is the path to your user profile folder.

  8. Type CD /d %userprofile%\AppData\Local and press return
  9. Then type DEL IconCache.db /a and press return
  10. Finally, type exit and press return to close the Command Prompt
  11. From Task Manager click File and select New Task (Run…)
  12. Type Explorer.exe and click OK.

Windows Explorer will now start and your images should now display correctly. If this doesn’t work, the alternative method below should do the trick:

  1. Press the Windows key + R and a Run Dialog window will pop up
  2. Type ie4uinit.exe -ClearIconCache and click OK.

This will immediately delete and then refresh your icon cache and should resolve the problem.


About Lee Kaelin

I've been passionately curious about computers since receiving my first PC in 1994. I have over a decade of experience with Windows, Linux and Mac operating systems and work as a Systems Administrator. I started OS Guides to share my experience.