Some Desktop Icons Missing

My system is a Dell desktop running windows 7 64-bit home premium. I have 8 GB RAM, and a 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7 processor. I was fooling around with windows backup and restore and I created a new user account. I rebooted and noticed that in my primary user account, the one I always use (not the new one), a good portion of my desktop icons had disappeared. I also noticed that in the new account I created, only 1 of the many desktop icons displayed. Most, if not all, of the disappeared icons are shortcuts to applications such as VMWare, itunes, YouTube Downloader, etc. But these applications are still there within the start menu under "All Programs". Unfortunately, I'm not sure exactly how long the missing icons have been gone. I just noticed the problem a few days ago.

Here's another strange thing. All the previous versions of my desktop folder, dating back to last July, seem to contain only the shortcuts that display now, not the missing icons, and I'm pretty sure that all the icons were present back then. It doesn't make sense. How could all the icons display if they weren't in the desktop folder to begin with? I have no idea of how I could have deleted only some of the shortcuts either. I realize I could just recreate the shortcuts on the desktop, but something weird happened here, and I'd like to know what it is. Also, there is one icon that displays that isn't in the desktop folder but is in the "Links" folder. It's a DVD-making application called Corel WinDVD 2010.

I tried rebuilding the icon cache and it didn't bring back the missing icons. All it did was change my Corel Video Studio application icon from a generic one to the little camera logo like it's supposed to be. There are still no icons displayed on the desktop of the NEW user account that I created, except for the Corel WinDVD 2010 one and a gadget for my Corel Video Studio Pro X application (it's a movie editing software package). Strangely, the gadget does appear in the new user account and so does the Corel WinDVD 2010 icon.

I have a screenshot of my desktop from before the icons disappeared and from that I can see that about 18 icons disappeared. Furthermore, the default desktop folder doesn't contain any shortcuts either, which probably explains why no icons appear in the new account I created. Shouldn't the default desktop folder contain the shortcuts?

I tried running a microsoft utility that's supposed to fix broken desktop shortcuts but that didn't fix the problem. Are there any other locations that might contain the missing icons other than just the "desktop" and "links" folders? Perhaps within the registry or something?

What can I do to remedy the situation and bring back my icons, other than just recreating the shortcuts manually?


Windows Forum Admin
Staff member
Premium Supporter
In some cases, the account can become corrupt to the point that you need to take multiple steps to completely repair the icon problem. Make sure no applications are installed that would modify or damage the icon cache. One such program suite I am aware of that can cause problems is ObjectDesktop. Check out some of these links (I know you tried already, but you may find something you missed):

How to Rebuild the Icon Cache in Windows 7
Icon Cache - Rebuild - Windows 7 Forums

How To Purge & Rebuild The Icon Cache In Windows 7 or Vista
How To Purge & Rebuild The Icon Cache In Windows 7 or Vista. | WinVistaClub

How to Rebuild the Icon Cache in Windows Vista and Windows 7
How to Rebuild the Icon Cache in Windows Vista and Windows 7 - The Winhelponline Blog

What we generally do when all of these features fail is to copy the user profile data (as much as possible) over to a new account. This will usually fix the icon cache problem. But you need to check what programs are modifying your system to the point that the cache could be becoming damaged in the first place. It almost always has something to do with a rogue 3rd party application making changes that users are generally unaware of. If you have any desktop modification software, this could very likely be the cause.

Performing an account migration is no easy task, and difficult to describe in full detail. However, by creating a new user account and migrating your data over, you will likely solve the issue. An audit of the programs on your system will help prevent it from happening again. Be sure to check file system integrity as well as OS integrity using both the System File Checker Utility (sfc /scannow) and (chkdsk)


New Member
I didn't find anything more at the links you suggested. However one thing I noticed is that when I install updates to the programs, the icons come back. For example, my youtube downloader icon was gone, but when I installed an update for it, the icon came back, without making any changes to the "desktop" folder. Somehow, there is a mechanism whereby these icons are created on the desktop without placing shortcuts into the desktop folder. If I could just determine what exactly this mechanism is, I might be able to solve the problem. Does anybody have any idea of how icons are created on the desktop without placing shortcuts into the desktop folder? There must be a way. Thank you!


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