SOLVED Disappearing Desktop Icons


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Please be patient with me, since I'm brand new to Windows 10 (my ancient Windows 7 machine is on its last legs, I fear), and am still learning my way around. But I have encountered a strange phenomenon. This has now happened twice, so can sort of no longer regard it as an isolated incident. I'm in the process of installing new applications, and downloaded and installed the current version of Mozilla Thunderbird to handle my e-mail, since I have that program on my old system, and am familiar with it. At first, all was well, then, about the 2nd or 3rd day, the desktop icon for the program disappeared. Well, it didn't disappear, exactly. It changed to the generic sheet of paper icon that Windows displays when it can't find the specified icon. However, the program still worked fine, and double clicking the generic icon started the program and it performed normally. So I right clicked the icon, chose PROPERTIES, and the Properties box showed the original icon. I clicked the Change Icon option, found the original icon listed, chose it, clicked APPLY, then OK, and no dice. The generic sheet of paper icon was still there. An additional tidbit that may be a clue to the problem is that if I go to the File Explorer (I think that's what they call Windows Explorer in Win 10), and look at the executable file there, it also has the generic paper sheet icon displayed. I did a search online, found an icon for Thunderbird I could download, changed the desktop icon to that one, and that worked just fine. So, all is well, except that of course, the executable file in File Explorer still has the generic sheet of paper icon.

Recalling having had a similar (if not identical) problem once in Windows 7, and having resolved it by clearing and recreating the icon cache, I did some research on how to do that in Windows 10, and found a small utility that I could download that performed the task. Ran that, but it did not have any effect on the generic icon (I had put the original icon back in place before rebuilding the icon cache to see if the icon cache rebuild would work.)

Now, the main reason for the question. Day before yesterday, I installed a backup and imaging utility named Aomei Backupper. Got it installed, ran it, became (partially) familiar with how it works, and moved on. The next day (I'm not certain exactly when in the day, since I was not concentrating on the desktop icons), the desktop icon for Aomei had also turned into the same generic paper sheet that I experienced with Thunderbird. Again, the program still runs just fine, as best I can tell. I downloaded an Aomei icon from the internet and put it in place, and (so far at least,) it has stayed in place. As with Thunderbird, the Properties box for the Aomei icon still showed the original icon, and as with Thunderbird, the Aomei executable in File Explorer now shows the generic icon. Haven't tried the cache rebuild again, since that didn't help the first time.

Anyone have any idea what could be causing this strange behavior?
 
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Hi RP,

do you have the latest version of Windows 10? (currently running version 1809), you should be running the updater to see if there are any updates for your system. What about any other 3rd party software you may have installed, anything exotic that we should know about?. ;););)
 
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Why it happened is a mystery (to me). Maybe something went a little astray with your subsequent software installations
As you suggested, yourself, it looks like a cache problem.

As you are new to Win 10: (you can copy and paste each line)

1. Right press the Windows icon and select Command Prompt (Admin)r.
2. ie4uinit.exe -show
3. taskkill /IM explorer.exe /F
4. DEL /A /Q "%localappdata%\IconCache.db"
5. DEL /A /F /Q "%localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer\iconcache*"
6. shutdown /r /f /t 00

The computer will restart.

Added. Just a word of warning. Once you start these commands, you must continue to the end, or you may have to reload your image
 
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Hi RP,

do you have the latest version of Windows 10? (currently running version 1809), you should be running the updater to see if there are any updates for your system. What about any other 3rd party software you may have installed, anything exotic that we should know about?. ;););)
Wolfie, I'm not sure which version I have. Only got the machine a couple of weeks ago. Right now, I'm on my ancient XP machine, since I have very little software installed yet on the Windows 10 system. The only three things I've installed so far are Thunderbird, the Aomei backup program I mentioned, and drivers for my two printers. But I'll check the version and let you know. Somehow, I had it in my head that Windows 10 updated automatically. I recall that I did get a message the first time I turned it on that it was updating. In any case, I'll check both the version and for updates, and let you know. Appreciate the input.
 
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Why it happened is a mystery (to me). Maybe something went a little astray with your subsequent software installations
As you suggested, yourself, it looks like a cache problem.

As you are new to Win 10: (you can copy and paste each line)

1. Right press the Windows icon and select Command Prompt (Admin)r.
2. ie4uinit.exe -show
3. taskkill /IM explorer.exe /F
4. DEL /A /Q "%localappdata%\IconCache.db"
5. DEL /A /F /Q "%localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer\iconcache*"
6. shutdown /r /f /t 00

The computer will restart.

Added. Just a word of warning. Once you start these commands, you must continue to the end, or you may have to reload your image
Dave, I think I did that, (though not exactly using the method you mention). I searched for and copied an article on how to rebuild the icon cache, and it outlined a procedure very similar (if not exactly the same) as what you mention. However, at the same site, there was a note that if you wanted a simpler way to do it, the author had created a small program that you could download for free named Thumbnail & Icon Cache Rebuilder, which performed the same tasks automatically. So I downloaded that program. When you run it, it opens a small box that gives you two boxes you can check--Rebuild Icon Cache, and Rebuild Thumbnail Cache. I checked both, and clicked OK. It opened a command prompt type box, quickly executed some commands, closed the box and told me to restart, which I did. But that had no effect on the (then only one) icon that was misbehaving. When I have a chance, I'll go through the specific steps you suggest, and see if the results are any different. I do appreciate the input.
 
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I really thought that is where the problem may lie, nevertheless.
Sad though, that it doesn't seem to be doing the trick
Going back to Wolfie's request..
Right click the start icon and select run. Type Winver.
It will display your version.
But, as you have only recently converted to Windows 10, I would imagine it is pretty much up to date
 
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I really thought that is where the problem may lie, nevertheless.
Sad though, that it doesn't seem to be doing the trick
Going back to Wolfie's request..
Right click the start icon and select run. Type Winver.
It will display your version.
But, as you have only recently converted to Windows 10, I would imagine it is pretty much up to date
Dave, Actually, it's a brand new system. First time I fired it up, after I looked around a while, I found the Shutdown option, only it said, Update and Shutdown. I chose that, and it left the desktop, then gave me a message that it was updating, then shutdown. Since then, the option has just been either Shutown, or Restart, So I assumed that this was an update. But I will check and let you know. Trying to work getting the new system up and running, and organized the way I want it amid a lot of Christmas activity, so it takes a while for me to find time to work on this. But I'll be back with whatever additional info I can gather. Thanks again for your help.
 
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Dave, and Wolfe, Well, did some more checking. First, on version. It shows Windows 10 Professional Version 1803, Build 17134_407. So I dug around to find the Windows Updater, and it said there was an update waiting to be applied. So I chose Apply Now, and of course, it went through the % routine and rebooted. After the reboot was done, I checked the version again, and it now shows Version 1803, Build 17134_471.

Then I tried the cache rebuild as outlined in your note, and encountered some difficulty. First, my system doesn't have a Command Prompt option. However, it does have the Windows Power Shell, AND the Windows Power Shell (Administrator). So I chose that one. Then I started on the commands, and didn't get very far. I'll paste below what I got on the screen.

Windows PowerShell
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

PS C:\Windows\system32> ie4uinit.exe -show
PS C:\Windows\system32> taskkill /IM explorer.exe /F
SUCCESS: The process "explorer.exe" with PID 6504 has been terminated.
PS C:\Windows\system32> DEL /A /Q "%localappdata%\IconCache.db"
Remove-Item : A positional parameter cannot be found that accepts argument '/Q'.
At line:1 char:1
+ DEL /A /Q "%localappdata%\IconCache.db"
+ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
+ CategoryInfo : InvalidArgument: :)) [Remove-Item], ParameterBindingException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : PositionalParameterNotFound,Microsoft.PowerShell.Commands.RemoveItemCommand

PS C:\Windows\system32> DEL /A /F /Q "%localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer\iconcache*"
Remove-Item : A positional parameter cannot be found that accepts argument '/F'.
At line:1 char:1
+ DEL /A /F /Q "%localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer\iconcache*"
+ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
+ CategoryInfo : InvalidArgument: :)) [Remove-Item], ParameterBindingException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : PositionalParameterNotFound,Microsoft.PowerShell.Commands.RemoveItemCommand

PS C:\Windows\system32>

As you can see, There is a problem with the syntax of the command. Not sure if that is associated with using the Power Shell instead of a command prompt.

A couple of other observations that may, or may not be informative as to the nature of the problem.

First, As I mentioned earlier, the icon disappears on both the desktop icon, and on the small icon displayed for the file in File Explorer. However, the icon did NOT change on the indication of the program on the Start Menu. Now, I don't know off the top of my head where Windows gets the icon it uses on the Start Menu. They may be unrelated. When I get a chance, I'll test by changing the desktop icon for a program, then checking to see if the icon also changed on the Start Menu. My assumption is that it does not, but having said that, it raises the question of where does that Start Menu icon come from.

Will let you know if I find anything either useful or interesting.
 
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1. There are several updates needed. You are at least three large ones behind.
2. The Shell should not have been there by default. At the moment it is an option. If you are still keen on trying my sequence, right click the taskbar and select "taskbar settings". There you will see the option to change the shell back to the command prompt. You can always change back again, infinitely.
You CANNOT use command prompt lines in the shell.
 
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1. There are several updates needed. You are at least three large ones behind.
2. The Shell should not have been there by default. At the moment it is an option. If you are still keen on trying my sequence, right click the taskbar and select "taskbar settings". There you will see the option to change the shell back to the command prompt. You can always change back again, infinitely.
You CANNOT use command prompt lines in the shell.
Interesting. Guess I need to explore how to get the updates I'm missing. I'll look for how to force an update, since apparently, one is not happening automatically. Meanwhile, regarding the issue of the shell versus the command prompt, is that because I'm missing the updates? I certainly never did anything to substitute the Power Shell for the command prompt. Until I went looking for the command prompt, I didn't even know about the existence of the Power Shell. I'll check out the taskbar settings, and let you know what success (or lack thereof) I achieve. I very much appreciate both your expertise, and your patience as I stumble around these blind alleys.
 
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Nothing to do with the updates. I have no suggestions why it should be defaulted to the PowerShell It is not a serious issue, but I am not acquainted with the new command format in there.

Updates: Open the settings -.Update and security, and "check for updates.." -It may take a while.
 
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if I am out of line, my apology.
Besides other score of problems, I have just had to fix several blank paper icons on my desktop today.(Windows 10)
Icons disappear like that from time to time - sorry have no idea of the cause.
However, I do fix it by going to the directory of the affected program, find the EXE and drag it onto the desktop creating a new shortcut. The correct Icon comes with it. Do that with all other paper shortcuts.
Then I delete the old paper only icon shortcuts. Works until it happens again.
 
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Nothing to do with the updates. I have no suggestions why it should be defaulted to the PowerShell It is not a serious issue, but I am not acquainted with the new command format in there.

Updates: Open the settings -.Update and security, and "check for updates.." -It may take a while.
Dave-- Well, when you said it may take a while, you weren't joking. I found it, (confusingly, it said "You are up to date" and that the last update was Dec 8. But it also said an update was available. So I clicked on the UPDATE NOW button, and the fun began. A little over 2 hours later (and after several excellent opportunities to declare the task completed), it was finally done. My version now shows a 1809, Build 17763_194. At this point, I still had the earlier substituted icons that I had downloaded in place. But I went to File Explorer, and looked at the Thunderbird.exe file, and lo and behold, the sheet of paper on the file was gone. So I went to the desktop and changed the icon back to the one from the thunderbird.exe file, and it worked. So I then changed the other one the Aomei back to the icon from the executable file, and that worked too. So, for now at least, the problem is fixed. I did check the taskbar settings, and the option to substitute the Power Shell for the command prompt was indeed, turned on. I didn't change it for now, since I no longer needed to try rebuilding the icon cache.

I don't understand why the update had not taken place, but hopefully, I'll become more familiar with the update process as I get more familiar with Windows 10 itself.

You have been of tremendous assistance to me, and I truly appreciate your assistance, your knowledge, but especially, your patience. I will no doubt be back with other problems as I continue to get comfortable with Windows 10. I hope you'll be here when I do. Thanks again.
 
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Ok. Would you be so kind as to go to the top of this thread (Your first post) and mark it as solved.
Should you encounter more problems, or need a windoiws 10 "learning experience", do not hestitate to ask on this forum. There are many willing helpers here.
 
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if I am out of line, my apology.
Besides other score of problems, I have just had to fix several blank paper icons on my desktop today.(Windows 10)
Icons disappear like that from time to time - sorry have no idea of the cause.
However, I do fix it by going to the directory of the affected program, find the EXE and drag it onto the desktop creating a new shortcut. The correct Icon comes with it. Do that with all other paper shortcuts.
Then I delete the old paper only icon shortcuts. Works until it happens again.
Could you start a new thread. It will be better to obtain help?
 

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