How to fix broken icons and shortcuts in Windows 11

Does the shortcuts or app icons on the Desktop not working in your Windows 11? The simplest reason behind why a shortcut may break is the sudden change of the target applicaiton path. When you try to use the shortcut, it won’t work as the shortcut file is corrupt. There are a number of solutions that you may apply to fix the broken icons and shortcut in Desktop.

Fix 1 – Recreate the IconCache file

The best solution for this issue is to delete the current IconCache file from the system files and let the system rebuild it.

Step 1 – To do this, right-click the Windows key and choose the “Run” item.


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Step 2 – After this, type this and hit Enter.

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Step 3 – This shall open the Folder Options tab. Quickly visit the “View” tab.

Step 4 – In the Hidden files and folders section, choose the “Show hidden files, folders and drives” tab.


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Step 5 – Now, all you have to do is to save the changes. So, tap “Apply” and “OK“.


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Step 6 – Now, open a new Run panel.

Step 7 – Next, paste this in there and click “OK“.



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This shall take you to the Local folder.

Step 8 – In there, you will find the “IconCache” file.

Step 9 – This file keeps the cache file of the icons on your Desktop. So, select the file and tap the bin icon to delete the file from the device.


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Quit the Local folder. Rebooting the computer should let the device rebuild the IconCache file.

Check the icons on your Desktop once more.


Fix 2 – Check the Target of the shortcut

Every shortcut is linked to a target file to be launched on the device.

Step 1 – You have to know the main installation directory of the shortcut file.

Step 2 – If you don’t know that, search for the application directly from Search.

Step 3 – Next, right-click the app in there and tap the “Open file location” prompt.


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Step 4 – In some cases, this will take you just to the Shortcuts folder.

Step 5 – So, find out the main excutable once again. Right-click that file there and tap “Open file location” one more time.


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This should lead you to the main source of excutable file.

The location you see there, it is the ‘Target:’ of the shortcut file.

Step 6 – So, come back to the Shortcut file on the Desktop (or in another location).

Step 7 – Later, right-click the file and tap “Properties“.


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Step 8 – Go to the “Shortcut” tab there.

Step 9 – Compare the “Target:” and the actual location you have traced earlier.

Step 10 – In case of any disparity, you have to manually fix that and save the changes.


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This way, you can fix the broken shortcuts issue.


Fix 3 – Create a new shortcut

If the shortcut file is leading up to an error message, you should deelte that and create a new shortcut in its place.

Step 1 – Just go to the location of the application installed on your system.

Step 2 – Otherwise, run a search using the search box and trace it to there.


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Step 3 – When you are there, right-click the app executable file there and tap “Show more options“.


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Step 4 – Next, select the “Send to>” and use the “Desktop (shortcut)” item.


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This way, you can create a fresh Desktop shorcut in the place of the older one.

Use the new shortcut and check it out.


Fix 4 – Reboot the File Explorer process

If nothing so far has worked out, restart the File Explorer process and test.

Step 1 – Check whether a File Explorer instance in running (you will notice the tab directly in the File Explorer).

Step 2 – Otherwise, pressing the Win+E keys should do the trick.

Step 3 – Now, hit the Win+X keys from your keyboard.

Step 4 –  A context tab will elevate. So, tap “Task Manager“.


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Step 5 – Find the “File Explorer” process on that page.

Step 6 – Right-tap the “File Explorer” process and tap “Restart“.


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Your whole screen will turn off briefly. But, within a few moments, everything should go back to normal.

Try to access the shortcut files and check their integrity once again.


Fix 5 – Run a system wide scan

A malware infection can cause the non-effectiveness of the shortcuts present on the Desktop.

Step 1 – So, begin by searching for “Windows Security“.

Step 2 – Open that up.


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Step 3 – Go this way –

Virus & threat protection > Scan options


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Step 4 – Now, can choose the “Quick Scan” option as it does take a few minutes to analyze the main system files for any threats.

Step 5 – Or, you can opt for a “Full scan“, which does scan all the files on the system and blocks the malware automatically.

Step 6 – Run the scan using the ‘Scan now‘ option.


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Once all the threats are blocked/ removed/ quarantined, all the icons on your desktop should get back their