When someone says they have “blank icons” on their desktop, they can refer either to the absence of icons or the icons becoming plain white color. Unfortunately, icons are essential for navigating through applications, so their sudden absence can cause problems. And while the issue may lie with Windows Explorer, your Windows settings may also be to blame.
Here are some fixes to help you resolve the problem if you are experiencing this issue. Several of these fixes will be surface-level, but others may be more technical.
1. Restart File Explorer
Navigation in Windows is controlled by the built-in navigation tool, File Explorer. The program provides a graphical interface for accessing all files throughout your system. Restarting File Explorer may resolve the temporary glitch resulting in blank icons on your desktop. Before we move on to any major fixes, let us restart File Explorer.
To restart File Explorer, follow these steps:
- Right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager.
- Navigate to the Processes tab and locate Windows Explorer (File Explorer is often referred to as Windows Explorer in a few systems).
- Tap Restart on the right-bottom side of the Task Manager window.
Restarting File Explorer usually resolves most navigation issues. If not, try other fixes on this list.
2. Disable Tablet Mode
Tablet mode replaces icons on your laptop or Windows tablet with navigation tiles. Therefore, you should check if tablet mode is enabled and turn it off if it is. To do that, follow these steps:
- Go to the action center on your taskbar. (It will be located right beside the date and time, represented by a message popup symbol)
- Expand it if it isn’t already expanded, and click on the tablet mode tile to turn it off if it’s already on.
If you can’t locate it in the action center, follow the steps below to turn it off.
- Go to Windows Settings.
- Go to System.
- Navigate to Tablet settings on the left sidebar.
- Click on Change additional tablet settings.
- Turn off the Tablet mode toggle by turning it to the left if it was already on.
The next step is to run an SFC scan if the Tablet mode did not cause the problem.
3. Run an SFC Scan
SFC stands for System File Checker, and an SFC scan helps Windows users locate and restore corrupted files. Corrupt files may interfere with other Windows tools such as File Explorer, which results in blank desktop icons. The SFC scan will hopefully restore the icons after fixing the corrupted files.
To run SFC Scan, follow these steps:
- In the Windows search bar, type cmd.
- Right-click on the Command Prompt app and choose Run as administrator from the menu.
- Enter the following command into the Command Prompt and hit Enter:
The SFC scan will inform the user if any corrupt files have been repaired or replaced with new ones as the process progresses. The Command Prompt will notify you of this at the end of the process.
4. Update Your Display Driver
Your icons can also become plain white due to an outdated display driver. When you update your display driver, you will restore the original settings and replace any corrupted files. Therefore, updating your display driver will likely fix the problem.
To do that, follow these steps:
- On the desktop, right-click on This PC and select Manage.
- Click on Device Manager from the left-side menu and expand the Display adapters category.
- Right-click on the GPU/adapter you are currently using and click on Update driver
- Then, click on Search automatically for drivers and follow the on-screen instructions.
You can also reinstall the display drivers if updating the driver does not work.
5. Clear the Icon Cache
By clearing your icon cache, you can restore all those desktop icons that have disappeared from your screen. The icon database will be rebuilt from scratch, restoring any icons that have vanished into thin air.
Follow these steps to clear your icon cache:
- Open your File Explorer using This PC.
- Click File in the top-left corner, then choose Options from the drop-down list.
- Go to the View tab and check the circle for the Show hidden files, folders, and drives.
- Now, navigate to your C Drive > Users > %Your in-use account% > AppData > Local.
- Find the IconCache file with a DataBase File type and delete it.
6. Run a Malware Scan
Running a malware scan will reveal any hidden malicious third-party software that may interfere with Windows functionality. The scan will detect and remove that threat.
Run a scan through your third-party antivirus application or follow the steps below to run Microsoft’s built-in security scan.
- Open Windows Settings.
- Go to Update & Security.
- Navigate to Windows Security on the left-sidebar.
- Click on the Virus and Threat Protection.
- Then, click on Scan Options under the Quick Scan button and select the scan you want to run.
A Full scan is recommended, but it takes longer as it goes through all of the files on the computer. If you are pressed for time, you can also do a Quick scan.
7. Update Windows
Update your Windows if yours is not up-to-date, as this will automatically resolve any pertinent visible problems by itself. You can skip this step if your Windows is already up-to-date. Additionally, if you continually keep the automatic update option on, you will not have to worry about updating Windows.
Follow the steps to update your Windows:
- Open Windows Settings.
- Navigate to Update & Security and then select Windows Update on the left-sidebar.
- Click on Check for updates, and Windows will find the most recent update for you.
- Once available, you can click on Download & Install.
If updating Windows doesn’t fix the issue, you can try resetting your PC.
8. Reset Your PC
When you reset your computer, all the settings will be reset to the default factory version, including registries, group policies, and any customizations you’ve made so far. The default setting will likely solve your icon problem if no other fix worked, but you should be aware of the risks involved.
Follow these steps to reset your PC:
- Open Windows Settings.
- Navigate to Update & Security and then select Recovery from the left-side menu.
- Click on the Get Started button under Reset this PC.
- In the Reset this PC window, select your preference of keeping or deleting your files on the computer.
It is important to remember that if you choose the remove everything option, all data and files will be deleted, and your drives will be wiped. Don’t make your life more difficult by wiping your data.
Turn Your Windows Blank Icon Into Normal
Hopefully, the fixes in the list will bring back all the icons that disappeared and normalize the blank ones. If nothing seems to work, you may have no choice but to manually change the icons one by one and create shortcut icons for those that have disappeared. If that doesn’t work either, reinstall your OS.
Would you like to give your operating system a unique look? Consider adding custom icon packs to customize your Windows entirely by choosing from hundreds of styles.
Custom icon packs will give your Windows 10 system a unique feel. You can choose from hundreds of styles. We have picked several beautiful and unusual icon packs to customize Windows. Which one do you choose?
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