For most file types, Windows can display icons. When the icon cache is full, you might see slow-loading file icons when you open a folder. To avoid that, you need to increase or decrease the icon cache. i.e., change the icon cache size in Windows 10 and 11 operating systems.
Generally, Windows automatically creates the icon cache for all files in your system. That way, it doesn’t have to regenerate the icons every time you open a folder with many files. Instead, Windows grabs the relevant icon files from the cache. This reduces the system resource usage and makes the whole process faster.
However, considering that the default icon cache size is just 512 KB, filling up the cache doesn’t take much. If that happens, you will see Windows trying to generate the icons on the fly. This makes the file loading in a folder look slow and sluggish.
The good thing is that you can change the icon cache size by extending the cache size limit. Alternatively, if you think the icon cache size is too much, you can decrease it. Let me show you how.
Steps to change icon cache size
Though Windows has no quick option to change the icon cache size, you can do it via a simple registry edit. All you have to do is create and tweak a single value, and you are good to go.
Before proceeding, make sure you backup the registry. The backup helps you restore the registry to a known good state.
Here are the steps to increase or decrease icon cache size in Windows 10 & 11.
- Open the Registry Editor.
- Go to the below folder.
- Right-click on the “Explorer” folder.
- Choose “New > String.”
- Set the name as “Max Cached Icons.”
- Double-click on the newly created value.
- Type “4096” in the Value Data field to increase the cache size.
- Type “256” in the Value Data field to decrease the cache size.
- Click the “Ok” button.
- Close the Registry Editor.
- You changed the icon cache size in Windows 10 and 11.
Same steps with a bit more detail and screenshots:
1. First, open the start menu, search for “Registry Editor,” and click on the result to open it.
2. Go to the following folder in the Registry Editor. You can paste the below path into the Registry Editor’s address bar, and press Enter to make things easier.
3. Now, right-click on the “Explorer” folder and choose “New → String.” This action creates a new string value.
4. Name the new value as “Max Cached Icons” and press Enter to save the name.
5. After creating the value and giving it the name, double-click on it. In the value data filed, type “4096” and click on the “Ok” button.
In case you are wondering, 4096 is 4MB written in KBs. If you want to, you can increase it further. For example, if you want to set the cache size to 8MB, you would enter 8192 (8 * 1024). Keep in mind that going over and above 8MB doesn’t produce better results. Above 8MB, it’s just diminishing returns.
If you want to reduce the icon cache size, type “256” in the Value Data field.
6. Close the registry editor.
7. To make the changes take effect, reboot the Windows system. You can also clear the icon cache to get a fresh start if needed.
That is all. It is that simple to change the icon cache size in Windows 10 and 11. If the icons are loading slowly, it is better to increase the icon cache size. After all, it’s just a simple tweak.
After making the changes, if you ever want to revert the settings to default, either delete the “Max Cached Icons” value or change its value data to 512. In this case, 512 represents 512KB which is the default size.
I hope that helps. If you are stuck or need some help, comment below, and I will try to help as much as possible.