Each of the files that you can see comes with its own unique icon. Sometimes the icons can even be swapped manually for a different one of your choice, like what people often do after creating a desktop shortcut for a particular item.
These icons for files come with a cache which makes the icons load quicker each time you request they be brought up by navigating around the operating system. The idea behind the cache is it prevents Windows from having to dig into the system to bring up the icon, and as such, the icon then loads quicker since it is being stored already.
While the loading quickness is the upside of the icon cache, the downside is that sometimes this cache can display the wrong icons. If you ever notice an issue with the way your icons look, you should try troubleshooting the problem by flushing the cache first as it is, by far and away, the most common cause for this issue—if ever you have a problem with anything about appearance, always flush the cache and see if that fixes the problem.
Though the cache is often the source of the problem for many situations, there are also some common issues that people face in Windows 10 that it definitely won’t work for. If the target source for the icon was removed, for instance, then it will need to be replaced before the problem will be rectified. In addition, if you are seeing files displaying the wrong icons but aren’t icons that were previously there for that file, then it is likely due to having set the wrong association for that particular file. The reason being that the problems directly relating to cache are only showing what you had done before to that icon, but never what you had never done at all. And lastly, anything that’s related to the thumbnails of folders, videos, pictures or documents won’t be anything to do with the cache either.
How to Rebuild Icon Cache in Windows 10
You can rebuild the icon cache by using the Command Prompt in Windows 10. Open the Command Prompt (any command prompt window; it doesn’t have to be the elevated variety), and then type/copy and paste each of the following commands, one after the other, and press the “Enter” key after each one to execute them individually.
taskkill /IM explorer.exe /F
DEL /A /Q "%localappdata%\IconCache.db"
DEL /A /F /Q "%localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer\iconcache*"
shutdown /r /f /t 00
Note that after executing the second command, the one for killing explorer.exe, you are going to lose the taskbar. You can still continue with the commands though by minimizing the browser window and picking up the Command Prompt window in the background, where it will be located somewhere on the desktop. The desktop as well will be black, but overlook it and continue working within the Command Prompt window.
Additionally, the last command is going to reboot the computer, so make sure you save your unsaved work before executing that final command. You’ll see the same browser icons available on the desktop when you minimize the browser to get it back open again, if you need to save or bookmark anything from your browser window, such as this article.