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generic white desktop icons

all of the shortcut icons on my desktop have suddenly changed to identical generic looking white objects. this happened right after a restart after installing windows live movie maker. the non shortcut icons still look normal. i have tried doing change icon in properties and it changes [temporarily] in the properties form, but not on the desk top.

i tried deleting C:\Users\User-Name\AppData\Local\IconCache.db and restart. no joy.

how can i get the original icon appearance back?

windows vista home prem 32 sp2 on hp pavilion dv6500t laptop
Watch Question

Did you stop/kill explorer.exe before deleting the IconCache.db file?
IconCache.db is also a hidden file. Attrib -h may be needed to make sure you have the correct file.


i am showing hidden files.
i did it again with explorer dead. icons are still ng, but i notice the new IconCache.db is much smaller now. 366KB vs 2,661KB.

Hi alk444,

since this only affects shortcut icons it might be there's a wrong entry in the registry. Check if there exists follwing registry key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Icons

If this key exists you can test if this is causing the problem by simply renaming that key (only the 'Shell Icon' part, i.e. rename it to '_Shell Icon') and restarting explorer.exe.

Hope that helps,


You successfully installed windows live movie maker on your Vista?
Did this include the full package? Windows Live  Essentials Package includes
W.L Messenger/ Photo Gallery/ W.L Mesh/Writer/ Family Safety etc
It's possible that WLMM took over all your music and video files types
where did you download it from?
Was it from here?
Could be a virus.
Please post back where you downloaded it from and was it a standalone

You can ninstall it and do a system a restore if no viruses
Please let us know before you go doing any regestry changes


HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Icons does not exist.

i only installed WLMM and PhotoGallery. they work fine.

i downloaded it from http://explore.live.com/windows-live-movie-maker

Thanks, what type of icons are they as in what do they represent? images>jpeg,png,giff etc. music>mp3 wav asf etc. video. avi mpg wmv etc
word> .doc
A folder shortcut?<<<<<
Photo gallery will have taken over most of your images jpeg gif png etc if and when Photo Gallery and WLLM  if you allowed it to associate with all files at setup. I untick this option
Hense my question.
Could you provide a screenshot of these icons then I can take a look at it.
White icons means they have NO association to any program hense I need to know what they represent
you said>all of the shortcut icons on my desktop have suddenly changed to identical generic looking white objects<<< shortcut Icons?? is not icons > folders?? per say but shortcut to folders right?
We don't usually make a short cut to an mp3 (icon)  or to a video do you? or a word?
If that is the case then it's possible that the mp3 or video the shorctut  originally pointed to was changed  because the mp3 original now opened with a new software hense changing it's icon.
Therefor the desktop shortcut icon will longer associate with it.
Go to your original file and take a look at it
Is the mp3 or whatever icon now changed to reflect Photo Gallery? Or WLMM?
Video may have a small drum in the corner.
If so re-create a new shortcut from the original to them the files are all ok.
change the associated program back to whatever opened it before.
R/click it and open with choose default
there's two other things you can do
(1) clear thumbnail cache
run the Disk Cleanup to clear the thumbnails cache
open My Computer>C :, right click it, select Properties, > Disk Cleanup and make sure thumbnails is ticked). Re-boot (most important).
and this one but ONLY IF the icon cache is corrupted and none of the above worked >>
Rebuild corrupt icon cache with Icon Cache Rebuilder



the icons are mostly shortcuts pointing to programs [.exe's]

when i install anything i always choose custom install and do not let it change associations [if offered]. all of the associations seem to be unchanged. the shortcut icons all seem to still work properly and if i look at the properties/change icon, the original icon is there and i can change it back in the properties form, but as soon as i ok the form it goes back to the generic. it never changes on the desktop.

i did the Disk Cleanup clear the thumbnails cache. no help.

as stated in my initial post, i did rebuild the IconCache.db . no help.

attached see screenshot.
It would be interesting to see if the same issue happens within another user's account (different logon), and within SafeMode.


this computer only has 1 user.

safe mode displays the same generic icons.


i turned on the guest account and the icons are the same generic.
This sounds like the associations with LNK are corrupt in your registry. Read the following:


1. Download the zip file and extract it (on your desktop is fine).
2. Then double click the file to import it into registry.
3. Restart afterwards and test.

So you know - it may not be the entire registry that is corrupt - but just the registry items that refer to the "Icon" within LNK. So just importing this registry key will reset all of the settings for LNK.


this fix seems to address messed up file associations. all of my associations seem to be fine. my problem is the appearance of the icons, not their action.
they all seem to work fine, but have lost their distinctive appearance. i'm leery of running your reg fix for fear of making things worse.
If you look at the extracted file, it doesn't just address associations. There are several keys that work with how icons of shortcuts (LNK) files are displayed.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

;LNK file association fix for Windows Vista.
;Updated on April 24, 2007


















Open in new window


As you say here>it never changes on the desktop.
That is because they are shortcuts,
You say here>if i look at the properties/change icon, the original icon is there and i can change it back in the properties form, but as soon as i ok the form it goes back to the generic<< is this r/clicking the shortcut?
I suggest you r/click each one go to the directory folder ~> host program and make a new shortcut
add to desktop, you're trying to fix a shortcut.
If the host program icons are ok there is a problerm with the shortcut  links only
Try this link fix
 save to folder then extract here and r/click it and merge
windows vista home prem 32 sp2<<

sorry it has already been posted. Missed that
It wont hurt your regestry.
If your not sure make a backup of your regestry first, it is so easy to do just open regedit collapse everything back to my computer and then go file export give it a name and time
Here's a quick guide I found saves me taking scren shots of  the steps
System configuration information is stored centrally in a hierarchical database called the registry. You can use Registry Editor to add and edit registry keys and values, restore the registry from a backup or to default values, and to import or export keys for reference or backup.


sorry for the inactivity. i have had other [un-related] computer problems on my desktop and also my kid's computer. i will follow up soon. i did try creating a new shortcut to a program and it had the same problem.

Can we help :)


i got your ABANDONED QUESTION message, but i don't have time to pursue the suggestions right now. the problem is not on my main computer. i will try to get to it within a few weeks.


lnkfix-vista.zip did the job. thanks for the help and sorry for the delay in trying it.