View Full Version : FAQ #51 - Why do my desktop icons change/move/load slowly?

30-08-2004, 05:33 PM
FAQ #51 - Why do my desktop icons change/move/load slowly?

Originally written by Terry Porritt

This FAQ applies to Windows 95/98/ME

Windows stores all the Desktop icons in a hidden file called ShellIconCache, which is in the \windows folder.

Sick or corrupted icons can be restored by deleting ShellIconCache, and then rebuilding the file by restarting Windows.

To delete the file it first has to be unhidden. Choose View, Folder Options in Explorer or My Computer window, click the View tab and mark the Show All Files box.

As easy way to delete ShellIconCache is to go to Find, Files or Folders from the Start button, type ShellIconCache into the box and click Find Now.

Right click on the found file and select Delete, then exit Windows and restart.

The icon cache file can also be repaired by using TweakUi. Click the Repair tab, highlight Rebuild Icons in the drop down list, and then click the Rebuild Now button.

If you still get problems with icons that load slowly onto the Desktop, change or randomly move around, then it is likely that the icon cache file is too small to hold them all and Windows has to search through your programs to find them, thus slowings things down and "forgetting" where they should be placed.

There are two ways that the Registry can be modified to increase the icon cache file size, one is by creating and merging a .reg file into the Registry, the other is by manually editing the Registry.

Creating and merging a .reg file is arguably an easier and safer way to go. This is what you do:

Copy the lines below which begin with REGEDIT4 and end with "2000", by highlighting and using Ctrl-C, or right click-Copy.


[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\w indows\CurrentVersion\explorer]
"Max Cached Icons"="2000"

(Note here that PressF1 has or may put a space between w and i in the word windows above, if so edit it out before saving ! There are meant to be spaces between Max, Cache and Icons)

Open Notepad and create a new file. Paste the lines into Notepad and then ensure you use the Enter key to add an extra blank line to the end of the file. Save the file (Save As) with a name such as maxicon.reg to a convenient location, making sure you have a .reg extension.

Then double click on the saved file to merge it into the Registry.

If you prefer to manually edit the Registry, do this:

1. Click Start, Run, type regedit and press Enter.
2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\windows\Curr entVersion\explorer. Highlight this key in the left pane of the Registry editor.
3. Right click the right pane and choose New, String Value.
4. Rename the string value Max Cached Icons.
5. Double click Max Cached Icons in the right pane, type the value 2000, and click OK.

To complete the process for both editing methods, delete the ShellIconCache file as described above, and restart Windows. A new icon cache file will be rebuilt. The icons may load slowly the first time after re-booting, but with subsequent boots the icons will all pop up onto the desktop together.


Microsoft quote the Max Cached Icons data range as being between 100 and 4096, with the default being 500. If you have lots of icons and they still load slowly with a value of 2000, then try 4096.

The above procedures have been tested on Windows95 and Windows98.

Source references:

IDG World Books, Windows 98 Secrets, and, More Windows 98 Secrets, Livingston & Straub.
Microsoft Knowledge Base Article, Q132668. Related articles, Q133733, Q251371, Q289587.

Original FAQ available here (http://pressf1.pcworld.co.nz/thread.jsp?forum=1&thread=27293&message=102113&q=faq%2325#102113).