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Fix Desktop Shortcuts in Windows 11

June 28, 2022

Some Windows users report that after installing a pending update on Windows 11, their desktop shortcuts they have completely disappeared. This problem seems to mainly affect users of Windows 11 that run on internal builds. If you want to know how to repair them, be sure to read this guide.

Index of contents

  1. What causes desktop shortcuts to fail in Windows 11?
  2. How to fix desktop shortcuts in Windows 11?
    1. 1.- Make desktop icons visible
    2. 2.- Update or rebuild the icon cache
    3. 3.- Restore the icons through a .reg file

What causes desktop shortcuts to fail in Windows 11?

Having thoroughly investigated this issue, it turns out that this issue has multiple potential causes. Here is a short list of possible culprits that could be triggering this error code:

  • Icons are hidden through the Windows GUI: It turns out that one of the latest security updates that microsoft released for Windows 11 ended up hiding the icons by default. Fortunately, you can make them visible again through the GUI menu.
  • Corrupted icon cacheNote: In some cases, you may be dealing with this issue due to some kind of corruption that is affecting the icon cache. If this scenario is applicable, you can fix the issue by refreshing the icon cache via an elevated CMD prompt or by rebuilding the entire icon cache using a file. .BAT.
  • Corrupted icon registry databaseNote: According to other users who were also experiencing this issue on Windows 11, the issue could be caused by some sort of corruption affecting the icon registration database. In this case, you can fix the problem by repairing potentially corrupted registry entries by running a custom .REG file.

How to fix desktop shortcuts in Windows 11?

Now that we’ve gone through all the potential causes that could cause this problem, let’s go over all the actual fixes that other affected users have successfully used to fix this problem:

1.- Make desktop icons visible

If you’re experiencing this issue immediately after installing a pending update for Windows 11, it’s likely that you no longer see desktop icons because the update has turned off icon visibility.

This problem can be easily fixed by right-clicking on a free space on your desktop and clicking show desktop icons from tab Watch.

Note: If you see a checkbox next to show desktop icons, icons should already be enabled in your Windows 11 installation. In this case, skip directly to the next method.

After clicking To show desktop items, the desktop should refresh automatically and the icons should reappear on your screen.

If the update doesn’t happen automatically, right-click on a free space on your desktop again and click To update in the context menu.

Desktop Shortcuts

If you’ve already made sure desktop icons are enabled from the GUI and you still don’t see them, continue to the next potential fix below.

2.- Update or rebuild the icon cache

If the above method did not work for you, you should continue to troubleshoot a possible corruption that is affecting the icon cache.

Note: It is much more likely that there is a problem with the icon cache if you notice that the icons in the taskbar and File Explorer are also not showing.

If the icon cache is responsible for this problem, you should be able to fix the problem by updating the icon cache through Windows Terminal or by rebuilding the entire icon cache using a custom .BAT file.

We’ve created secondary guides for both approaches, but our recommendation is to start by implementing an icon cache update (since it’s the easiest approach) and work to rebuild the entire icon cache if the first method fails.

Update icon cache

Refreshing the icon cache will only cause the icon cluster to turn back on. This should fix the problem if you’re just dealing with a minor display glitch, but it won’t work if you’re dealing with some kind of corruption that’s affecting the icon cache.

Here’s how to update the icon cache via Windows Terminal:

  • Press the Windows key + R to open a dialog Run. Next, you have to write the command inside the text box ‘wt’ inside and press Ctrl+Shift+Enter to open the interface WindowsTerminal with administrator access.

  • If at any time the User account control asks you, you have to click Yes for administrator access to be granted.
  • Inside the app windows terminal elevated, type the following command and press Enter to refresh the current icon cache:

ie4uinit.exe -show

  • Close the elevated Windows Terminal app and see if the problem is now fixed.

Note: If the icons still don’t appear in your Windows 11 installation, follow the subguide below.

Rebuild the icon cache

Rebuilding the entire icon cache will require you to create a custom BAT file that will automatically run a series of commands that will effectively rebuild the cache associated with each Windows icon.

We’ll provide you with the lines of code, but you’ll need to create the BAT file yourself.

This is what you should do:

  • Press the Windows key + R to open a dialog Run. then write ‘memo pad’ inside the text box, then press the keys Ctrl+Shift+Enter for it to open Pad of grades with administrator access.

  • In the message of User Account Control (UAC)you must make sure to press where it says Yes to grant administrator access.
  • Inside the raised Notepad window, paste the following code into the empty box:
@echo off

set iconcache = %localappdata%\IconCache.db

set iconcache_x = %localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer\iconcache*

echo.

echo The browser process must be temporarily terminated before deleting the IconCache.db file.

echo.

echo SAVE ALL OPEN WORK before continuing.

echo.

pause

echo.

If “%iconcache%” exists, go to delete

echo.

echo The file %localappdata%\IconCache.db has already been deleted.

echo.

If “%iconcache_x%” exists, go to delete

echo.

echo The files %localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer\IconCache_*. db have already been removed.

echo.

leave / B

:Remove

echo.

echo Trying to delete IconCache.db files…

echo.

ie4uinit.exe -show

taskkill /IM explorer.exe /F

If exists del /A/F/Q “%iconcache%”

If exists del /A/F/Q “%iconcache_x%”

start explorer.exe

echo.

echo The IconCache database files have been deleted successfully.

go to restart

:restart

echo.

echo.

echo You will need to restart your PC to finish rebuilding your icon cache.

echo.

CHOICE /C:YN/M “Would you like to restart PC now?”

IF ERRORLEVEL 2 goto no

IF ERRORLEVEL 1 goto yes

:Yes

off /r/f/t 00

:Nope

leave / B

  • then click File, Archive in the ribbon menu at the top, then click Save as in the context menu that just appeared.

  • Inside the menu Save asnavigate to a location where you want to save the file BATthen change save as type a All the files. Next, name the file whatever you like, but make sure the file needs the ‘.bat’ extension. Look at the example below.

  • press Save to create the file, and then close Notepad.
  • Right click on the file .bat newly created and click Execute as an administrator in the context menu.
  • Wait until the file is processed, then restart your computer and see if your desktop icons are restored to your Windows installation the next time you restart your PC.

If the issue still isn’t fixed, go to the final potential solution below.

3.- Restore the icons through a .reg file

If the above two methods didn’t work for you, you’re probably dealing with some sort of corruption that’s affecting the registry database that handles your Windows icons.

Several affected users who were also dealing with this issue on Windows 11 have reported that they were able to fix the issue by creating a custom .reg file to ensure that the registry database related to icon management is not corrupted.

Follow these instructions to create and run a .reg file to fix possible registry corruption:

  • Press the Windows key + R to open a dialog Run. After this, write the command ‘memo pad’ inside the text box, later, you have to press Ctrl+Shift+Enter for it to open Pad of grades with administrator access.
  • If he User Account Control (UAC) requires it, you will have to press the option that says Yes for administrator access to be granted.
  • Inside the raised Notepad window, paste the following code into the empty box

  • Next, you need to click on File, Archive in the ribbon menu at the top, then click Save as in the context menu that just appeared.
  • Inside the menu Save asnavigate to a location where you want to save the file REGthen change save as type a All the files. Next, name the file whatever you like, but make sure the file needs the ‘.reg’ extension.

  • press Save to create the file, then close the Notepad window.
  • Right click on the file .reg that you just created and click Execute as an administrator in the context menu.
  • In the confirmation message, click Yes, then wait for the operation to complete.
  • Restart your PC and see if the icons have been repeated on your Windows 11 desktop.