How to Fix Icons in Windows 11

If icons are missing, you typically unhide the desktop icons OR taskbar, but sometimes you have to restart

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If your taskbar icons are missing or your desktop shortcuts have disappeared, this article will explain how to get them back.

Causes of Missing Icons in Windows 11

Icons appear blank if Windows cannot find the icon file associated with an app. A few issues can cause icons to go blank:

  • The app is an outdated version
  • Your graphics driver is out-of-date
  • The icon cache file is corrupt

If your Windows icons go missing, these are some potential causes:

  • Your desktop icons are hidden
  • The taskbar is hidden
  • Windows Explorer needs to be restarted

How to Fix Icons in Windows 11

Try these steps in order until your icons are back to normal:

  1. Unhide your desktop icons. If your desktop icons are missing, right-click anywhere on the desktop and select View > Show desktop icons.

    View and Show desktop icons highlighted on the Windows 11 desktop.
  2. Update your apps. If you're having problems with a specific app, update it to see if that fixes the icon.

  3. Check your Desktop Icon Settings. If icons are missing for Windows system apps like the Recycle Bin or This PC, go to Settings > Personalization > Themes > Desktop icon settings. Check all the boxes, then apply and save your changes.

    Desktop icon settings and Desktop Icons checkboxes highlighted in Windows 11 settings.
  4. Restart Windows Explorer. Open Windows Task Manager, go to the Processes tab, then right-click Windows Explorer and select Restart.

    Windows Explorer and Restart highlighted in Windows Task Manager.
  5. Rebuild the icon cache. Windows stores icons in a cache file that can be corrupted or out-of-sync. Delete the icon cache file and restart your PC to rebuild the cache (see the instructions in the next section).

  6. Update your graphics driver. If your graphics driver can't render the icons, try updating the appropriate drivers.

  7. Check your Group Policy settings. If your account is part of a Group Policy, the administrator could have hidden desktop icons for all members of the group. The only way to change it is by using the Group Policy Editor.

  8. Perform a System Restore. If you've noticed issues after making some changes to your system, use System Restore to roll back your PC to a previous state.

  9. Manually add desktop shortcut icons. If you created custom desktop shortcuts, it's possible they got deleted. Try adding shortcuts to your desktop again.

  10. Manually change the icon. If an icon is blank, right-click the icon, then select Properties > Change Icon to manually choose one.

    Change Icon highlighted in Windows 11 Properties.
  11. Perform an SFC Scan. Run System File Checker to repair any corrupted files.

  12. Unhide the Taskbar. If you're missing the icons in your taskbar, make sure the taskbar isn't hidden. Go to Settings > Personalisation > Taskbar > Taskbar behaviors and uncheck Automatically hide the taskbar.

    Automatically hide the taskbar highlighted in Windows 11 settings.
  13. Uninstall Windows 11 updates. If your icons went missing after a Windows update, go to Settings > Windows Update > Update history > Uninstall updates and select Uninstall next to the latest update.

    Uninstall updates highlighted in Windows 11 settings.
  • How do I change icons in Windows 11?

    To change icon sizes in Windows 11, right-click the desktop and select View, and then choose the size you want. Alternatively, press Ctrl + Shift + 1, 2, 3, or 4 on your keyboard. You can also go to Settings > Personalization > Themes > Desktop icon settings to swap in an alternate set.

  • How do I hide desktop icons in Windows 11?

    Right-click the desktop and select View to open a settings menu. From here, you can toggle desktop icons on or off by toggling the Show desktop icons option.

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