Fix Incorrect icon shown for a file type in Windows Vista and Higher


Recently I received a query wherein the user had incorrectly associated .zip file type with Adobe Reader. Later they got the association problem straightened out by running the .zip association fix from the File association fixes page. However the .zip file type was still showing the Adobe Reader icon, although the association settings are correct.

Forcing an "Icon Cache" Refresh

Usually, the icon should be refreshed after a restart. If that does not happen, you can force a shell icon refresh by performing a task that triggers the calling of SHChangeNotify API. For example, you can use the Default Programs applet and set Internet Explorer as your default browser, in order to refresh the shell icons. Follow these steps:

1. Click Start, Default Programs

2. Click Set your default programs

3. Select your web browser, email client or any other item in the list.

4. Click the Set this program as default button.

5. Click OK.

Check if the icon for .zip file type is fixed.

Whenever the file association settings are changed or new association is created via the registry or script, the system might not be aware of the change. Programs use the  SHChangeNotify API call specifying the SHCNE_ASSOCCHANGED event, in order to refresh the icon cache without requiring a reboot.

Other Methods to Clear the Icon / thumbnail caches

How to Refresh or Clear the Icon Cache Quickly Using IE4UINIT.exe in Windows 7

How to Rebuild the Icon Cache in Windows Vista,7, 8 and Windows 10

How to Clear the Thumbnail Cache in Windows


About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.

9 thoughts on “Fix Incorrect icon shown for a file type in Windows Vista and Higher”

  1. I’ve been looking for a solution for like, 2 hours now.
    I accidentally associated .dll files with the editor, and now every .dll file had the corresponding icon.
    THIS finally helped me solve the problem – the simple ways are always the best.

  2. The easiest way to force a refresh of the icon cache is to change the color depth of your desktop. Switch from 32-bit to 16-bit and back. That will always force a rebuild of the icon cache.

  3. I used to face this issue at times which is definitely frustrating. However THANKS to Schmock i know how to fix it easily without even rebooting.

  4. THANKU FOR HELPING ME OUT WITH THIS lnk FILES PROBLEM.Wish you for your further successfull journey

  5. Good day, I got to the point of extracting an exe fix vista file on my desktop but I can not get the merge option when I right click on the reg file.

  6. Ramesh,

    The icon is the 259th one. You yourself said you need to start counting at 0 (zero). Right?



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