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Issue #840: Aug 27 – Sep 2, 2023

Q: I have a laptop HP Envy x360. It’s about 4 years old, I think. It’s been updated to Windows 11. For some reason, my shortcut icons on the home screen don’t open up as fast as they used to. I used to start up the laptop, and put the cursor on one of the shortcut icons, and they would open up immediately. Now when I leave the computer for even 20 minutes, and come back and put the cursor arrow on an icon, it takes about 10-20 seconds for it to open. I have checked everything I can think of to find out why…any ideas?

– Barbera V.
Lone Rock, Wisconsin

A: I almost always have ideas, Barbera.  Sometimes they’re even right.  Let’s see what I can do for you. Before we start, I’m curious how someone in Lone Rock, Wisconsin even heard of my column.  The fact that I was born and raised in Wisconsin aside, I’m not aware of any publication in Wisconsin that carries I.G.T.M.  That wouldn’t be surprising though – nobody explicitly tells me where the column publishes week to week.

One of the first things that crossed my mind after reading through your submission was to wonder whether your terminology of “shortcut icons” actually includes all of the icons on your desktop?  At the risk of insulting your intelligence, allow me to explain for those who don’t already know, that the term shortcut actually refers to a specific kind of icon that is a link to an item located elsewhere.  Clicking the shortcut opens the item exactly as if the shortcut were the item itself.  You can have shortcuts to all sorts of items, including programs, folders, files, and even network or Internet addresses.  Shortcut icons usually have a little arrow on one corner to provide a visual indication that it’s a shortcut and not the actual item.  When you create them, by default the icon’s text usually ends with “- Shortcut”, or it starts with “Shortcut to” if you’re on an older version of Windows.   

One reason I tend to think the problem might be with all icons rather than just shortcuts is that all icons utilize a facility in Windows called the icon cache.  This is a small database where Windows stores a copy of every icon image it displays, so it doesn’t have to repeatedly retrieve the icon image from the file.  This works great, and saves valuable processor time and disk access, making everything run a little faster.  That is, until something happens to the database, which seems to happen with startling regularity over time (thanks, Bill!).  So, if the problem you’re experiencing is something else, I apologize, but for the sake of getting you an answer, I’m going to get you the information you need to repair a corrupted icon cache.

As sometimes happens with solutions that I want to share in the column, the steps you need to follow are far lengthier that I can fit into the 500-800 word length of It’s Geek To Me.  So, I went looking for – and found – a pretty good article for you that explains the process, and includes visuals and alternate ways of doing the steps.  It’s’ even on a web site with “Geek” in the name, so what else could one want?  So, please follow this shortcut: TinyURL.com/IGTM-0840 which will take you to a website called TheGeekPage.com and to an article entitled “Fix: Desktop icons loading slow issue in Windows 10/11.”

If this turns out not to be your problem, by all means write-in again and I’ll continue to try to help you.  Good luck, and happy computing!

 


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