Rebuild Windows Vista Icons Cache – Vista Displaying Wrong Icons

Recently, I booted up Windows Vista machine and many of the icons were completely different than when I had shut the machine down. Many if not all of the icons in the Windows shell & explorer were displaying completely incorrectly. Icons for images where not the same, shortcut icons had changed, and many icons were just missing altogether.

When a correct icon was displaying, there’d be an incorrect icon displaying right next to it. Thankfully after a bit of searching, I found the following solution. Here’s how to go about rebuilding your Windows Vista Icon Cache:

  1. Kill Explorer (use theTask Manager to do this)
  2. Open the command prompt and go to: %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local
  3. Unhide the IconCache.db file with the following command: attrib -h IconCache.db
  4. Delete the IconCache.db file: del IconCache.db
  5. Start Explorer (or restart your computer)

18 thoughts on “Rebuild Windows Vista Icons Cache – Vista Displaying Wrong Icons”

  1. How do you execute the GOTO command properly? whenever I do it, I just get a new line with C:\Windows\system32> on it

  2. Thank you! Just started to use Vista and suddenly some (not all) the icons on the Quick Launch bar showed up as colored boxes. If I moved them to the desktop, they showed correctly. Whereas, if I moved one of the icons that was showng correctly to the desktop, it showed wrong. This fixed the problem after searching for over an hour for a solution.

    Also, in response to the first commenter, if the Task Manager is started and explorer is killed, then go to file -> new task (run…) and enter: cmd and the command prompt opens fine. You can also run explorer through that menu option…

    Thanks again!!

  3. Thanks! Other sources were saying to simply restart, which did not help. Your suggestion worked perfectly, and I was able to navigate to and run explorer again without having to restart at all. Cheers, mate.

  4. Excellent tip. This worked for me, too.

    If you are receiving an error when you attempt to change into your profile directory on the command prompt, your username and/or profile path probably contain a space, so you need to enclose the path location in quotes, e.g.:

    > cd “%userprofile%\AppData\Local”

    Also, Bruce, there’s no need to start the cmd.exe prompt before you kill the explorer.exe task; one is able to launch a new process from within the Task Manager: File -> New Task (Run…), enter cmd, and hit OK. (You can start explorer.exe after you delete the icon cache using the same process [pardon the terrible pun]).

    Thanks, again, for this tip. The missing Thunderbird icon was driving me insane… especially when reinstalling Thunderbird didn’t fix the problem!

  5. I just went into AppData\Local\ and deleted the .db file, through windows & it fixed the problem immediately… not sure if I’ve caused other problems in doing this, but so far so good :)

  6. Hey. I followed your steps exactly but the problem is that the iconcache.db file does not get recreated on my Vista. Tried restarting and changing screen color depth but no luck. Also I tried to these instructions again and iconcache.db wasn’t found in cmd so it’s not because the file’s hidden. Is there any other way to manually recreate the file? Cause right now I’m still stuck with ugly blank icons.

    Thanks a bunch

  7. Here a complete script for a .BAT File, changes to the system drive too, if the cmd is launched on another Drive, kills explorer and deletes the IconCache.db:
    CD “%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local”
    ATTRIB -S -H -R -A IconCache.db
    DEL IconCache.db
    ECHO Done

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