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Issue #755: January 9-15, 2022

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Q: As always, I enjoy your column I am a regular reader. I am having issues with some of my taskbar icons. I read your issue #643 (Geek Note: I.G.T.M. #643, November 17, 2019) to try to fix this but am still having issues. I tried both the solution in the article and the solution detailed in the link. Neither worked for me. Although this does not impair the function of my computer, it is annoying as I cannot tell which icon is which. I have included a screenshot of the affected icons. Oddly, not all are the same. Office is black, HP print solid blue and the other 4 are multi colored. Thanks for any help you can give me.

– Kathryn M.
Defuniak Springs, Florida

A: I’m glad you wrote-in about this Kathryn.  I can give you some advice, but this is one of those mysterious kinds of problems that, unless I am working on the actual machine, it’s quite difficult to diagnose.  Being able to see a screen capture of the problem helped, so thanks for that.  I’ll be posting that on my website with See the bottom of this column if anyone wants to take a peek.

It’s too bad that the suggestions from Issue 643 didn’t help you, although I will admit that I’m not particularly surprised that the explicit solution in the column didn’t work for you.  After all, Reader Ed R’s problem dealt with a glitch with the icon from a single application, while yours seems more pervasive, affecting all the icons in your Task Bar simultaneously, albeit in different ways.  That, however, is a clue that tells me that something has likely gone wrong with the program or process that is displaying the icons, rather than with the icons themselves.  Since you say that you tried the link to the instructions to rebuild the icon cache, and even that didn’t work, that leaves me a little stymied.

The column we’ve been talking about was written way back in late 2019.  In researching your problem, I’ve found some more contemporary discussions that allude to some Windows updates that have been identified as potential causes of issues with the Task Bar icons on some computers. The logical solution would seem to be to determine which one, and uninstall it, right?  The problem with that is that if Microsoft released an update, there’s probably something in there that your computer needs, and if you uninstall it, whether or not it fixes your icon problem, chances are that Windows automatic updates are just going to re-install it again.  That assumes that you have automatic updates enabled.  On the off-chance that you don’t, you should know that it’s not exactly uncommon for a Microsoft patch to cause unrelated problems (such as what you are experiencing) and when that happens, they typically issue a subsequent patch to fix the problem that the previous patch caused.  So, one very important thing I’d recommend is to pay a visit to Start->Settings (Gear Icon)->Update and Security, and click “Check for updates” to make sure you’ve got all the latest updates installed.

At this time, the only thing I can think to do at this time is to boot your computer in Safe Mode, and see if the icons appear normal.  While in Safe Mode, re-run the process to rebuild the icon cache, then cross your fingers and reboot normally.  Please get back to me and let me know the results, and I’ll do some further research for you if necessary.

Scrambled Icons

Reader Kathryn M’s scrambled Task Bar icons.

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