How to refresh icon cache without restarting windows

If any of your icons aren’t displaying, it means you need to refresh your icon cache. Icon cache is a database file (iconcache.db) that has a copy of each icon for faster access. Whenever Windows needs an icon, it draws from the cache rather than retrieving the icon images from the original application. It makes the programs load faster.

How to Access Icon Cache

Follow these steps to access iconcache.db:

  1. Open File Explorer, click the ellipses (3 dots) on the top and then click Options from the menu.
  2. From the popup, switch to the View tab. There, select “Show hidden files, folders, or drives” and uncheck the box next to “Hide protected operating system files.”
    show hidden
  3. Click Apply and Ok to save the changes.
  4. Now navigate to the following using File Explorer and you shall see iconcache.db. Replace UserName with the your user account.
    iconcache location

Now that you know where the iconcache.db files are stored, you can proceed to the next phase: refreshing the icon caches.

Refresh Icon Cache in Windows

If your icon cache is corrupted or Windows is not able to create the new image of the replaced icon, you need to rebuild or refresh the icon cache.

To refresh the icon cache, just delete the iconCache.db file and Windows will automatically start rebuilding the new cache. Follow these steps below:

  1. Open Command Prompt with administrative privileges.
  2. Now navigate to the Explorer folder (storing the iconcache.db files) using the given command. Replace Username with your user account name:
    cd /d C:\Users\<em>Username</em>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer
    cd 1
  3. Now type in dir to confirm that you are in the correct directory.
  4. Now run the following command to kill all explorer.exe processes. Before you do, make sure to save any open work.
    taskkill /IM explorer.exe /f
    cmd kill
  5. The desktop and other explorer apps will now vanish, except for the Command Prompt. Run the following command to delete all iconcache files in the directory.
    del iconcache*
    cmd del
  6. Now open the Task Manager by using the CTRL + Shift + Esc shortcut keys, and click File in the top-left corner. There, click Run new task.
  7. In the Create new task dialog box, enter explorer.exe and hit Enter.
  8. Now that explorer is re-running, use the interface to sign out of your account and then sign back in.

Once you sign back in, you will notice that any changes made to the system icons will have taken effect.

Final Thoughts

Another quick way to refresh your system’s icon cache is by using a single command the Command Prompt with administrative rights:

ie4uinit.exe -Show

However, according to various sources on the internet, this command seems to refresh the icon caches on Windows 10 and 11. However, after testing it out ourselves, it did not work for us. That said, some users have had success with this command, and seems to do the trick.

If it does not work for you, you can always try the method given above to refresh your icon cache.

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Having done MPhil in Computer Sciences, I'm passionate about new IT technologies and eager to learn. I write about tech trends, new tools and software, and rapidly emerging technologies.


  • Pierre

    “ie4uinit.exe -Show” worked for me (Win 10 Pro).

  • aquawicket

    ie4uinit.exe -show

  • sudhir

    accidentally once selected wireless network icon that ‘aeroplane symbol’ in a taskbar corner on the desktop is not at all wanishing even tried changing adapter, icon set, mode of connection blue tooth setup etc. this I could not fix. Do you have solution to restore the original network icon ‘square box’ with correct status display.

  • David Spector
    David Spector

    This is the standard advice. Doesn’t seem to work on Windows 10 Home version 1803. The IconCache.db file cannot be deleted even after Explorer.exe is closed. Something is keeping it open. You might consider deleting this article.

  • Mike

    Doesn’t work.
    Deleting the files just deletes the files.
    Windows will not create new icons.

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