Windows stay visible when closing them in Windows XP sp2

jkanisut used Ask the Experts™
I'm having a strange problem where after a short-time after I reboot, any window that I minimize or close in Windows XP sp2 remains visible but frozen (like they become part of the wallpaper).

They do not show in the Task Manager.  It’s like Windows is not repainting whatever was behind them or cleaning them up.

If I do a ctrl-alt-del and come back, they clear-up.  The desktop icons also vanish.  I have to reboot to get it all working again.

Any ideas?
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Check your video card drivers and display settings.


The Windows Update (which always makes me nervous) recently updated the driver... but that was like from two updates ago.  Display settings have not changed.

The problem has happening a couple of weeks ago (1st Windows update), went away, now it's back but worse.

I'll try to revert to an older driver.
Also check your cable and make sure it is seated with no BENT pins.   If you have had it out in the last few, pull the cable and look at the pins undr strong light.
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I would go with the first comment.

If that is ok, create a new user & check with a new user account if the problem vanishes. It could be a corrupt user profile.

Do a disk cleanup of temporary windows files. Right click disk where windows is installed / properties / tools tab / click the disk cleanup button and folloe the wizard.

If you find it comfortable, try upgrading to Service Pack 3.


to see if it is a profile issue, create another profile on the machine and login under that profile.   If it fixes it, move the data from the old profile and do not use it, or delete it.
Open a new Command window and type the following command:

reg query HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Update /v UpdateMode

What does it display?


    UpdateMode  REG_DWORD       0x1
Hi jkanisut

If this is not a networked computer in a corporate environment, and is a standalone personal PC, then that standard registry setting (along with others) can sometimes contribute to Windows Explorer not refreshing its icons properly.

A Zero value for "UpdateMode" and "NoNetCrawling", and a new value telling Windows to cache 12000 icons is regularly quoted as a successful solution for issues like yours.



"Max Cached Icons"="12000"

My own settings on this standalone XP comuter are:
Max Cached Icons = value does not exists
and I very rarely experience the problems you have, but it's worth a try as long as you know the values and can revert to them if it doesn't help.

I have spelled it out in case you have never explored or edited the registry before. If you have never done this and are unsure about any step, then ask before doing, because changes to the registry take effect immediately.

Start Menu > Run > and type   REGEDIT

If it starts anywhere other than the top level "My Computer", then hold down the Left Arrow key until it collapses back to the "My Computer" icon at the top, close regedit and open it again. Windows XP remembers the last place Regedit was open at, and it can be a nuisance.

In the Left pane, click on the + symbols to expand your way down to the following keys and click on them to see what is in the Right Pane:




For the first one, if you double-click on the "UpdateMode" value you will see a "1" in the "Value Data" field.  Change it to a Zero and click OK.

Collapse that key back to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and expand out to the next one, looking for a "Max Cached Icons" in the Right Pane.  If the value does not exist you can create it using the Edit menu > New > "String Value". Name it Max Cached Icons (with the spaces). Right-Click > Rename works just as it does in Windows Explorer. Double-Click on the new value and type 12000 in the "Value Data" field and click OK.

Collapse the key back to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and then expand HKEY_CURRENT_USER out to the "Advanced" sub-key looking for the "NoNetCrawling" value in the Right Pane.  Change the 1 to a 0 just as you did with the "UpdateMode" value.

Close Regedit and reboot.

There are only 3 values to remember here, but write down what they were before changing.  It's easy enough to revert back to the old values and delete the "Max cached Icons" value if it wasn't there before.

One thing you might want to do before changing any registry values is to force windows to rebuild its Icon Cache.  The easiest way is to Right-Click on the Desktop > Properties > Settings tab > change the "Color Quality" to another of the settings in the drop-down list > Apply button > OK to close properties.  I would suggest a reboot at this stage, change the Color Quality back to what it was before (usually should be the highest), and reboot again.

Generally when Windows leaves artefacts of windows or dialog boxes on your screen, eg. portions of the windows that don't go away, this is caused by something else hogging and choking up your memory.  It would be worth investigating what programs are set to run in the background as Startup programs and disable the ones that you only really need to open when you want to use them, and which can easily be opened from a start menu shortcut.

An easy way to get a list is as follows:

Start Menu > Run > and type   MSINFO32
After it loads fully, expand out to, and click on, Software Environment > Startup Programs in the left pane.
File > Export > and save as a *.txt file that you can easily attach here if you would like some advice about what is likely to be needed.

To disable specific Startup Programs do this:
Start Menu > Run > and type   MSCONFIG
Open the "Startup" tab and untick the ones to disable at next boot.
Click Apply, then OK to close MSCONFIG
Reboot when prompted.
On reboot you will see a notification that MSCONFIG was used to disable startups, and you can hide further notifications by ticking or unticking the little box in that dialog.
Enabling again is just the reverse process.

Hopefully this issue will go away.



I'd also like to add that the whole computer stops responding (somewhat) and requries a reboot.  For example, I can get to the control panel menu item but cannot get into the control panel as the start menu freezes.  But I can launch other programs, but the graphics freeze when they are exited.

When the icons vanish, they are gone until I reboot.


This is on an Active Directory network.


I reinstalled the O/S and but didn't update the video drivers.  So far, so good.


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