Windows 10 How to rebuild the icon cache for thumbnail-previews

Windows 10 icons and thumbnails are a feature we all take for granted until they don’t work anymore. Occasionally, Windows 10 desktop icons will go missing or disappear. More commonly, though, users notice that their Windows 10 icons are blank or white.

The same applies to those thumbnails which Windows 10 is creating as little previews for images and video files. Just like static program symbols those thumbnails are stored as icons in the icon cache. When they go missing, you will have to reconstruct the icon cache.

Thankfully, you can usually fix icons by with a rebuild of the icon cache, and we’re going to show you how to do that today.

Broken Thumbnails and Icons in Windows 10

A broken icon or respectively thumbnail in Windows 10 often occurs when the icon cache gets out of date or corrupted. When the cache doesn’t line up with changes in applications, it can often result in an old icon or thumbnail being displayed or white/blank Windows 10 icons. This isn’t a particularly serious issue and can often be remedied with a few simple commands.

When you reset icons, you force a rebuild of the icon cache in Windows 10. The icon cache is essentially a database of all of your applications and the location of the thumbnail images they should be linked to. When you view a screen with an icon, Windows checks the db icons for a match. If it doesn’t find one, it will scan the directory of the .exe file, retrieving it into memory and saving the resultant icon cache to your hard drive once your PC shuts down.

When we reset icons, we force the OS to do this check for all icons manually by removing the image file associated with programs from the database. Now that you understand the basics, let’s jump into how to rebuild the icon cache in Windows 10.

How to Rebuild the Icon Cache in Windows 10 with Command Prompt

The fastest way to fix icons missing in Windows 10 is via the Command Prompt. With a few commands you can rebuild the icon cache and remove your broken icons.

  1. Open Command Prompt as an admin


    Press the “Start” button and type “cmd”. Right-click the “Command Prompt” entry and click “Run as administrator”.

    Windows 10 - Open CMD

  2. Enter ie4uinit.exe -show


    Type ie4uinit.exe -show in Command Prompt and press Enter.

    Windows 10 - CMD - ie4uinit show

  3. Terminate the File Explorer process


    You can do this with the command:

    taskkill /IM explorer.exe /F

    This will ensure you can make the relevant changes but will also kill the taskbar and remove the wallpaper. Both will be restored later.

    Windows 10 - CMD -taskkill explorer

  4. Delete/rebuild the Windows 10 db icons and rebuild the icon cache


    In command prompt, paste the following two commands individually, pressing Enter after each:

    DEL /A /Q "%localappdata%\IconCache.db"
    DEL /A /F /Q "%localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer\iconcache*"

    Windows 10 - CMD - DEL iconcache

  5. Restart your PC to rebuild the icon cache in Windows 10


    Now that we’ve deleted the icon cache and db icons, we can restart our PC. Windows will rebuild relevant icons after startup and the icons that disappeared from the desktop in Windows 10 should return.

    To restart even with the Explorer process terminated, press “Ctrl + Alt + Del”, click the power icon in the bottom left, then hit “Restart”.

    Windows 10 - CTRL+ALT+DEL - Restart

How to Rebuild the Icon Cache in Windows 10 via File Explorer

If you aren’t confident with Command Prompt or didn’t have any success with the above method, you can instead delete and rebuild the icon cache in Windows 10 via File Explorer. This provides a user-friendly way to reset icons when Windows 10 icons are blank.

  1. Open File Explorer and reveal hidden items


    The icon cache and db icons aren’t visible to users by default. This can be remedied by opening File Explorer by pressing the icon on your taskbar or “Windows + E”, switching to the “View” tab, and ticking “Hidden items”.

    Windows 10 - File Explorer - View - Hidden Files

  2. Navigate to the Local App Data folder


    You can do this quickly by pasting %LocalAppData% into your File Explorer address bar.

    Windows 10 - File Explorer - LocalAppData

  3. Find IconCahce.db and delete it


    Scroll down the local app data folder until you see “IconCache.db”. Right-click the file and press “Delete”. You may want to restart your PC to ensure your blank Windows 10 icons reset.

    Windows 10 - File Explorer - Appdata - Local - Delete IconCache.db