Users are only as effective as the Windows desktops on which they are working. So when a user finds icons that are blackened and shortcuts that don’t work, IT support needs to know where to go and what to do to fix the problem quickly.

The “where to go” is easy to answer: TechRepublic. That’s according to TechRepublic member Nhughes79, who faces just such a problem on a Windows desktop. He went to TechRepublic’s Technical Q&A for help, writing, “One of [my] users is experiencing problems with the icons on the task bar. For some reason, they have all turned black. The four icons to the right of the Start button are all black, as well as any icon for an [opened] application.” Nhughes79 also says that the icons on the user’s Internet Explorer links bar are black.

Check for corrupt files
The first course of action should be to check for corrupt files that could be causing the blackened icons. TechRepublic member Soulrider suggests deleting the ShellIconCache file, which can be found using Windows’ Find File And Folders feature. After deletion and a reboot, the file will be restored. In addition, Soulrider believes Nhughes79 should run a virus check, just to be on the safe side.

Go to the Knowledge Base
Member DKlippert points to two Microsoft Knowledge Base articles that might help Nhughes79’s troubled user. The first is article Desktop Icons Do Not Display Correctly in Windows NT 4.0 (Q199152), and the second is Icons Randomly Change to Different Icons (Q132668). DKlippert, like Soulrider, also suggests deleting the ShellIconCache file. Article Q132668 provides more specific information on how to delete it.

Dhedges believes a corrupt version of Internet Explorer might be to blame. He writes, “I’ve run across this a few times and reloading Internet Explorer usually fixed the problem.”

Download a fix
Another possible solution is to rebuild the icon cache, which can be done with an application such as Tweak UI from Microsoft. Member BMcKinlay suggests downloading it from CNET’s, but just make sure you download the correct version. “Once installed,” writes BMcKinlay, “there is a tab that will rebuild your icon cache. Click that and restart your computer. That should fix the problem.”

Think you have a better solution?

Have you experienced this problem with a desktop? Post a comment to this article. Also, check out the Technical Q&A section at TechRepublic for answers to more of your tough technical questions.