Windows 7 Desktop Icons Obscured

Hello - I tried searching the forums and my search did not find my situation. I'd appreciate any help on this annoyance. With the exception of My Computer, Control Panel and Network, all of my desktop icons that start programs are obscured with what looks like a 'word' document icon. I can start the program in question from the desktop but the program icon looks terrible.

Has anyone encountered this issue and solved it or have any ideas what causes this behavior?

Thank you.


Essential Member
Hello and welcome to the windows7forums,

Did this occur immediately after install.?

have you got the latest video card drivers.

Was this an upgrade or a "clean" install?

Hi - yes, immediately after install. I tried updating my video driver but had some issues. Will try again. I did an upgrade from XP using the Laplink Upgrade software, 'PCMover'. Outside of this icon issue, the system is working great and I didn't have to reinstall everything. It's odd because the shortcuts work launching programs.


Essential Member
Could you give us the exact make and model of your video card?

The card is made by Sapphire. It is based on the ATI Radeon X1650 chip. One other piece of information that may or may not be relevant is if I pin the shortcut to the Taskbar, the icon displays properly. Also, I used the Update Device Driver in Device Manager to get the latest driver. This one is puzzling me.

Thank you for your help


Essential Member
Try shutting down and restart in Safe Mode and see if they still display that way.

Now start normally and see if it;s corrected.

Safe mode didn't work. However, in safe mode, because of the resolution, the icons were bigger and I got a better look at the picture that is obscuring the icon. It's a blank document with the upper right corner folded over. On the document is a Window with 3 icons on it. If you have any pull with Microsoft perhaps you can ask them about it. My support isn't free and I'll be damned if I'm going to pay them $49 to look at this. More info. I've installed Activesync for my smartphone and it has the same problem. However, it seems to be only program or internet shortcuts. Word, excel and pdf documents appear fine just like the My Computer, Recycle BIn and Control panel.

I really appreciate you taking a look at this. I wish Microsoft would be as interested with some free support for their operating system.

Try this first... Click Start and type "hide" and look at the options for hiding and unhiding icons on desktop.

Hi and thanks for all your help.

tblount - Hiding and unhiding didn't help.

Drew - Understand what you are saying. However, I ran the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor before upgrading and it tells me that:

Radeon X1650 Series and Radeon X1650 Series Secondary both are compatible with Windows 7.

Microsoft wouldn't lie to me, would they? (wink, wink). Of course, being compatible isn't quite the same as being supported by Windows 7.

Drew, my card is AGP. Was yours and if so, what card did you buy to replace your X1600?

Thanks again for your help. As I said before, I've pinned most of my shortcuts to the task bar and they look and work fine. If this is my solution, it's certainly one I can live with until I can afford a new PC.


Millennium Celebration Award Winner
Premium Supporter
Ok, 'richpikl', this may be the crux of your issue...

Since you say the vid card is based on the Radeon X1650, the actual ATI Radeon X1650 does not support Windows 7; drivers for it go as far as Vista x64. I happen to know this because I had an X1600 (same thing basically) and swapped it out of another vid card for this very reason. This discovery grew out of intially realizing I couldn't get the clone to TV to work and then I talked w/ an engineer @ ATI/AMD who confirmed it was not fit for Windows 7.

In other words you may be beating your head against the wall trying to get that card to give the desired functionality of graphics.


"A scan a day keeps the nasties away!"
My Radeon x1650 video card displays desktop icons just fine. In fact I have no display problems at all. The drivers came from Windows Update.

Hi drew,

I think I mentioned this earlier. My X1650 is made by Sapphire. It is listed as compatible on the Windows 7 Hardware Compatibility list. I've sent a support request to Sapphire and they will investigate. Of course, the tech who replied to me said he never saw anything like it. I'll see what they say. before I decide on a new card.

For anyone else with the problem, pinning the icons to the task bar works very well and this is how I'll resolve the issue if sapphire says they can't help.

This is my main computer which I built a few years ago. I upgraded to the X1650 last year to help with gaming and it is fine for that. I hate to sink anothe 1-2 hundred in a new video card since everything else is working fine. It's just the damn icons and it's more annoying than troublesome.

One of the other posts on this issue mentions a 'failed image' icon. Googling doesn't provide much on this. I'm a stubborn guy so I think there should be an answer some where.

thanks for all your help.


Millennium Celebration Award Winner
Premium Supporter
If I were you I'd try System File Checker.

I can't guarantee it'll work but it has fixed everything I ever used it for. In fact just yesterday I had to use it to fix the wireless in Vista on my wife's laptop. It dualboots XP and Vista. After I fixed the broken Vista boot loader Windows Wireless wouldn't work. SFC fixed that.

Thanks for the suggestion. SFC came up empty so I guess that's good and bad news. Bad in that I still am trying to hunt this one down. Good that my system integrity is OK.

Latest Status:

I upgraded my video card to an ASUS HD 4650 AGP card and also a new Dell 22" Wide Screen LCD Monitor. However, the icon issue is still present although the obscured icons and everything else is crystal clear on the new monitor.

I can't help but think that this is due to an incorrect or corrupt registry setting. That's just a hunch on my part trying to resolve an annoying problem for me.

Thanks for all your input.


Essential Member
An AGP card, the computer must be pretty old, correct?

The graphics card is good and I'm sire you love the 22" widescreen

Could you provide a screen shotr?


Noob Whisperer
Not sure if this will help but have you tried rebuilding the icon can google it or perhaps look here How to Rebuild the Icon Cache in Windows Vista and Windows 7 - The Winhelponline Blog
It sounds more like you've used one of several applications or scripts available online to remove the shortcut arrows from desktop icons....there is some that work and some that don't, if you think that may be what has happened let me know and I will try to get you a link to one that I know works (will get rid of them and or put them back) need to know which version of Win7 (64 or 32 bit)...not sure how this would have happened with a new install, but hey, anythings possible.


Noob Whisperer
See Attachment....If this is what you're talking about, then it's a corrupt registry entry and there's something out there that will fix it....let me know, if we are talking about the same thing.


Essential Member
Nice desktop Trouble..............beautiful:)


Noob Whisperer
Thanks...I can't take any credit for it, it's a picture that I found somewhere on line. Just thought I needed something to remind me "Tis the Season"

Well, finally success and the last poster was right in the ballpark. My issue was that something in my system (probably the registry) was unable to display the proper shortcut arrow on my desktop icons. Where it got the graphic that was displayed was beyond me since my in place upgrade wasn't a Vista to Win 7 but XP pro to Win 7 using Laplink PC Mover.

The solution was the Vista Shortcut Manager which you can get if you google it. While designed for Vista, it worked like a charm in Win 7. One of the options is to not display the shortcut arrow and this option fixed my desktop. TweakUI was the XP tool for doing this.

So, anyone with a similar issue should try the Vista Manager and you should have the same results as me. I'm a very happy camper and I want to thank all of you who took the time to help me with your suggestions.

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