Often, especially after a Windows update or sudden power loss, taskbar icons become blank, invisible, or missing. You can still click on the blank icon to open the application but the application icon itself won’t appear (invisible) on the taskbar. If you are facing this problem, try the solutions below to make the taskbar show app icons properly.
1. Click on the Blank Taskbar Icon
The easiest thing you can do to make the icon reappear on the taskbar is to click on it. Clicking the blank icon serves two purposes. First, it opens the application. Second, it refreshes the cached icon. Once the cache is refreshed in the background, the pinned icon appears normally on the taskbar. If it hasn’t, proceed to the next solution.
2. Unpin and Pin the Icon to the Taskbar
If clicking on the blank icon didn’t work, you can try unpinning and then pinning the icon back to the taskbar.
To do that, right-click on the blank icon and choose the “Unpin from taskbar” option. Next, open the Start menu, search for the application you want to pin, right-click on it, and choose the “Pin to taskbar” option. This action will pin the application to the taskbar. After pinning, the app icon should display correctly on the taskbar.
3. Restart explorer.exe Process
explorer.exe is an important process that manages a lot of things on Windows including the taskbar and its icons & functionality. If the explorer process is stuck or is being bogged down by another process, it can cause blank icons on the taskbar. In that case, you can try restarting the Explorer process.
First, right-click on an empty space on the taskbar and choose the “Task Manager” option. Navigate to the “Processes” tab on the sidebar, find and select the “Windows Explorer” process, and press the “Restart task” option at the top. Once you do it, the File Explorer closes automatically and the taskbar flashes a couple of times. After that, all taskbar icons will appear normally.
If they don’t appear, it might be a problem with the icon cache. Follow the next solution.
4. Delete and Rebuild the Windows Icon Cache
Windows automatically caches all the icons it displays to improve the system’s performance. If there is a problem with the icon cache, it can make the icons appear invisible on the taskbar. You can try refreshing the icon cache.
Press the Windows logo key on your keyboard, search for Command Prompt, and select the Run as Administrator option in the Start menu. In the admin Command Prompt window, run the below commands one after another.
Navigate to the icon cache folder in the command window:
Stop or kill the explorer process:
taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
Delete all icon cache files:
Start the explorer process again:
After executing the above commands, close the Command Prompt window and restart your computer. You can do that by clicking on the Windows logo on the taskbar and choosing the “Power” icon > “Restart” option. Once the system has restarted, Windows will rebuild the icon cache automatically and the taskbar icons will appear normally.
5. Cleanup Windows Files with DISM and SFC
Open the Start menu by clicking on the Windows logo key on the taskbar. Next, search for Command Prompt and select the Run as Administrator option. Once the command window opens, run the below commands one after another. Each command will take a few minutes to complete. Be patient.
Scan the system for Windows image and component store corruption:
dism.exe /online /cleanup-image /scanhealth
Repair and restore corrupted Windows image and component store files:
dism.exe /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth
Cleanup the component store (WinSxS):
dism.exe /online /cleanup-image /startcomponentcleanup
Check system file integrity and repair corrupted files:
After running all the above commands, close the Command Prompt window and reboot your computer. You can do that by clicking on the Windows logo on the taskbar and choosing the “Power” icon > “Restart” option.
6. Reinstall the Application with the Blank Taskbar Icon
If the above solutions did not work then the problem might be the application itself. If the application’s icon itself is corrupted, it might not appear properly and look like a blank icon on the taskbar. To fix it, you must uninstall and reinstall the application. For that, I recommend using dedicated software such as BC Uninstaller. A dedicated uninstaller serves dual purpose. First, it uninstalls the application. Second, it scans and deletes all left-over files of that application. This ensures complete removal. When you reinstall the application, you can be sure that it is not using any of the leftover files.
First, go to the FossHub page and click on the “Bulk Crap Uninstaller Installer and Portable” link to download BC Uninstaller. Once downloaded, double-click on the installer file, and follow the wizard to install it.
Note: As an alternative, you can also use the winget command
winget install BCUninstaller to download and install BC Uninstaller.
After installing, open the Start menu, find and click on BC Uninstaller to open it. Once opened, accept all the defaults in the initial setup wizard and click the “Finish setup” button at the end.
Now, find the application that’s causing the blank icon on the taskbar, select it, and press the “Uninstall” button at the top.
Ensure the “Uninstall” checkbox is selected and click on “Continue.”
The uninstaller will now scan for applications that might be using the application you are about to uninstall. If it finds any applications, it will ask you to stop/kill them. Press the “Kill all” button to continue. Leave all the default options as is and click “Continue.”
Click on the “Begin uninstallation” button.
Once the application has been uninstalled, click the “Close” button.
When prompted if you want to scan for leftover files, click “Yes.”
Select all the left-over files and click “Delete selected.”
That’s it. You’ve thoroughly uninstalled the application causing the problem. Restart your computer and reinstall the application by downloading it afresh from the developer’s website.
7. Uninstall Recent Windows Update
You can uninstall recently installed Windows update to fix the blank taskbar problem. Here’s how to do it.
Press the Windows key + I shortcut to open Settings. Navigate to the “Windows Update” > “Update history” > “Uninstall updates” page. Find the recently installed update (usually at the top) and click the “Uninstall” option. Follow the on-screen wizard. Next, reboot your computer to finish uninstalling the Windows update.
Get Your Taskbar Icons Back
Following all the solutions one by one in the given order not only fixes the problem but also makes sure you don’t face it in the future. Of course, if you encounter the blank taskbar icons again, you can follow the same steps to fix it. For me, deleting the icon cache and restarting worked and I never faced that issue again till now. So, try the given troubleshooting solutions and see what works for you. If you need help, comment below or send me an email.