How to Fix Broken or Missing Icons and Thumbnails in Windows 10

Are your desktop icons and image thumbnails not displaying correctly? Here is a way you can fix them in Windows 10.

One of the common “it’s still Windows” chores we have to do now and then is reset the icon and thumbnail cache. If your icons are corrupted in some way—blank, taken over by another app, or not displaying as they normally do—then resetting the icon cache can fix the problem.

The same goes for the thumbnail cache, which keeps a preview of images, videos, and documents. There are several ways to do this. The most common involves using the command line. Or you can use a free third-party utility. We’ll look at both options.

Reset the Icon and Thumbnail Caches

If your icons are corrupted or not displaying properly, you can reset the Windows 10 icon cache to fix them.

The easiest way to do it is by using the free Winaero Tweaker utility. This free utility provides an assortment of options for fixing common problems users will experience in Windows 10 from time to time. It’s just a 2 MB download, too. After downloading, extract the file, launch the Winaero Tweaker setup file, click Next, choose Normal mode and accept the license agreement.

After completing setup, launch Winaero Tweaker, scroll down to Tools group, select Reset Icon Cache, then click Reset Icon Cache. That’s it; your icons should return to normal.

Fix Icons and Thumbnails from Run or Command Prompt

If you don’t want to go through a third-party app, you can try resetting several ways. From the run command, type: ie4uinit -show and hit Enter.

Still not seeing those icons? Then let’s jump into the command line and get our hands dirty. First, you will need to disable Explorer.exe. Press Windows key + X then click Task Manager (or press Control + Shift + Esc). From the Processes tab, select Windows Explorer, right-click it, then click End task.

Click File > Run new task, type: CMD, hold down the Shift key, and click OK. This will open the command prompt with administrator privileges.

Type each command, then hit Enter.

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

dir iconcache*

del iconcache*

dir iconcache*

Type explorer.exe to restart Windows Explorer.

Exit the command prompt and verify your icons are working again.

Reset Your Thumbnail Cache

A similar issue can happen when your thumbnail previews. Instead of seeing a preview of your actual image, video, or document, you may only see a generic icon.

Fixing this one should be a lot easier. Press Windows key + R, type: cleanmgr.exe, and hit Enter. Scroll down, check the box next to Thumbnails and click OK.

So, those are your options if your icons ever start misbehaving. Let us know which method you prefer to use.



  1. ben e. mccoy

    August 25, 2017 at 10:34 am

    THANK YOU, Andre, for this most valuable tool. I’ve always had to reboot Windows in order to recover missing/corrupted icons on task bar, so i hope your fix-it program will help solve this recurrent problem.

    • Andre Da Costa

      August 26, 2017 at 7:06 am

      Let us know how it works for you.

      • ben e. mccoy

        August 26, 2017 at 1:09 pm

        SEEMS TO WORK out well at my end, fixed up and reset my task bar icons A-OK.
        and the rest of your Winaero Tweaker Utility looks real interesting for all sorts
        of past technical problems i’ve experienced with Windows 10!!!

        • Andre Da Costa

          August 26, 2017 at 10:29 pm

          Fantastic! It really is a little gem with lots of features.

      • Doug Slay

        January 2, 2019 at 12:54 pm

        After trying a number of possible solutions found on Google, with no success, I found your post. The Winaero Tweaker app worked perfectly. All my missing desktop Thumbnails returned. Thank you!

  2. Bruce Conn

    August 27, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    An unwanted search banner installed itself at the top of the screen. I can close it cannot uninstall it.
    Also, the site directed me to sites requiring payment. This all feels like a trap door to old fashioned online crap-marketing. I trusted you, help me get this thing off my PC…

  3. Paul Sybrandy

    August 29, 2021 at 11:40 am

    So yeah, the one app icon I was having issues with is still not showing it’s icon but instead is displaying as a blank paper icon with a folded top corner. I followed this step by step but it is still not showing. I do not know what else to try.

    • Randal S. Chase

      November 7, 2021 at 10:51 pm

      I have precisely the same problem. Nothing seems to fix this.

  4. JML

    December 6, 2021 at 5:46 pm

    Thanks for providing that tool, but none of the methods here work for me, Windows keeps refusing to make thumbnails.

  5. Bebe Sneed

    May 27, 2022 at 2:37 am

    Thanks but no good, any of those solutions. Some of my icons for image files will display the little preview picture but the rest just won’t. I just see the default logo for the image viewer I’m using. This windowsexplorer thing is a real pain in the tail, it’s the only thing I’ve never been able to fix. The cosmic ballet goes on

  6. Tomcat

    January 16, 2023 at 9:00 am

    Thanks for the GREAT HINTS in this article!
    In my case, the Desktop icons were sometimes improperly displayed when the icons were taken from subst’ed drives and the command “ie4uinit -show” repaired the problem immediately !!

  7. will grates

    April 19, 2023 at 10:57 am

    command prompt solution worked for me, thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


To Top