How to Repair the Icon Cache

There is a hidden icon cache file in your windows directory, ShellIconCache, which contains a copy of all the default
desktop icons. It sometimes gets corrupted. If it does, your icons will go all
black or they may display the wrong icons. If this happens, delete it and
reboot. NT (& Win9x) will repopulate the cache with the default icons. To
delete the ShellIconCache:

  • at a command prompt, change to the %SystemRoot% folder
  • remove the hidden attribute from the file:
    type attrib
    -h shelliconcache
    and press ENTER.
  • delete the file:
    type del shelliconcache and
    press ENTER.
  • logoff and backon and the default icons should be restored.
TweakUI has been known to corrupt the ShellIconCache.

This tip applies to all versions of Windows including Windows NT, Windows
2000, and Windows XP.

If the default icons were deleted from a Windows NT desktop, they can be
recreated from the registry. See Q151723

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