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Win7 Pinned Taskbar Icons Disappear

Running Windows 7 Home 64bit OS.  After running Windows Updates, I have run into a problem where the icons on the taskbar disappear from view.  THe problem is reproducible, and can be temporarily fixed using two methods:

1) Boot into Windows 7
2) All pinned icons are missing from the Taskbar.  The Windows button, and system tray icons are still visible

3a) I drag an icon to the taskbar, the icon is successfully pinned.  At the same time, the taskbar refreshes, and all of the pinned icons are now visible.
3b) I go into Task Manager, kill explorer.exe, and run explorer.exe.  The taskbar re-appears with all of the pinned icons visible.

I ran a chkdsk -> no problems found
I deleted the icon cache.db file -> no difference
I verified the icons were located in the quicklaunch folder

I analyzed the Windows Update History and saw 20 updates were installed.  None appeared to have any effect on the UI, other than the monthly roll ups (July 2016 rollup, August 2016 rollup, December 2016 rollup, and March 2017 rollup)

I'm not quite sure what my next troubleshooting step should be
Windows 7

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8/22/2022 - Mon

Run System File Checker.

Open cmd.exe with Run as Administrator and run SFC /SCANNOW.
Allow to complete, restart or, preferably, shut down the computer and then start up again.
Test to see if the problem has been corrected.
fred hakim

I assume you scanned with your antivirus program.  You should also scan your PC for malware using both malwarebytes and superantispyware.  

If the problem persists, you may want to check windows components using    sfc /scannow   from an elevated cmd window.  See here for details...


Please create a Restore point first.
go to device manager > expand Display Adapter > right click on your Graphic Card > properties > driver >  roll back driver.
if above didn't help, try to uninstall and select scan for hardware changes. or completely reinstall your Display Driver.

my next option is to create a Backup Image from Windows, then run below commands in a admin elevated dos prompt to Reset and Clear Taskbar Pinned Items.

DEL /F /S /Q /A "%AppData%\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\User Pinned\TaskBar\*"
REG DELETE HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Taskband /F
taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
start explorer.exe
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Shaun Vermaak

DEL %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Recent\AutomaticDestinations /Q /F
DEL %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Windows\Recent\CustomDestinations /Q /F

Open in new window

Reboot. Your items will all be gone but you can repin

We gave you answers. Did you try?  any response?

My apologies for the delayed response.  The client was away for the week.

@John Hurst -> I ran an sfc scan, and it came back clean

@fred hakim -> AV scan, malware scan, and JRT scan all came back clean

@Ramin -> I did not roll back the video driver.  However, I did find a lot of duplicate shortcuts in the Taskbar folder.  Alas, the instructions you offered still did not resolve the issue

@Shaun Vermaak -> I followed the steps, but it did not resolve the issue

While troubleshooting, I did discover a new symptom.  The computer was configured to autologin to user account via netplwiz.  If I removed the autologin and forced the user to login on boot, the taskbar icons appeared correctly.  If I re-enabled the autologin, then they disappeared again.  I'm not really sure what could be causing this issue since there shouldn't be any difference between a normal login vs an autologin.

To resolve the issue, I now have the client boot to login screen, and manually login.  However, I welcome any other ideas that anyone might have.
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Did you try the Repair Install? That fixes most issues.

Author ruled out everything except a repair install.