What Does the X on an Icon Mean in Windows?

If you have Windows, you may be one of many users who have discovered X’s on their desktop icons. But what does the X on icons mean in Windows?

What Does the X on an Icon Mean in Windows?

It’s an odd quirk of the Windows operating system, and many people have used different methods to resolve the issue. Essentially, these X’s occur because the file thinks something has gone wrong. Since it could be responding to one of several known issues, you may have to try several solutions before something works.

Read below to discover how to get rid of the X’s on your icons.

Refresh the Icons

Sometimes the problem is simply a refresh issue. Your icons are not registering changes in the system and are telling you so. You may see this if only some of your desktop icons have X’s on them. To refresh your icons, follow the steps below.

  1. Right-click on your desktop.
  2. From the list of options, select refresh.

Once the icons are refreshed, the X’s should disappear.

Change the Opening App

Technically, you’ll be tricking the file into thinking you’re changing a setting without changing anything when you change the opening app. The file thinks its connection to an app is broken when it just needs to be reminded that it’s still there.

  1. Right-click on the file or Icon.
  2. Hover on “Open With.”
  3. Click “Choose another app.”
  4. Do not change the current app.
  5. Click “Ok.”

Once you click Ok, the file will think its connection to an app is restored, and the X’s will disappear.

Delete Icon Cache

The icon cache is a database file where Windows stores pictures of the icon. The OS will use this cache file whenever the icon is needed because it is faster to draw from the cache than the original application file. If this cache becomes corrupted, you may start seeing X’s on your icons, so you should delete the cache.

To delete your icon cache, take these steps.

  1. Press the following keys: Windows + r
  2. The Run Command Box will appear.
  3. Copy and paste the following text: %LocalAppData%/
  4. Click “OK.”
  5. Find the file titled “IconCache.DB” and click on it.
  6. Delete the file.
  7. Restart your computer.

This should delete the icon cache, and the cache will rebuild without any further action on your part. Once your computer finishes restarting, you can begin using your apps, and the X’s should have disappeared from the icons.

Fix OneDrive Sync

You might see X’s on your icons if your file’s connection to OneDrive is not working. You can manually turn off OneDrive’s sync and turn it back on to re-establish a connection. This will force the icons to recognize that OneDrive is updating.

To turn off OneDrive sync and then turn it back on, do the following.

  1. Locate the OneDrive icon on the taskbar. It will look like a cloud.
  2. Right-click on the icon.
  3. Select “Help & Settings.”
  4. Click on “Pause Syncing.”
  5. Choose a duration, then close OneDrive.
  6. Open OneDrive again by right-clicking on the cloud icon in the taskbar.
  7. Select “Help & Settings.”
  8. Click on “Resume Syncing.”

Once the connection between the file and OneDrive is back, the X’s should begin to disappear from the icons. Generally, this connection stays open all the time unless there’s a disruption with your Internet access.

Uninstall Other Cloud-Based Services

If you use cloud-syncing services other than OneDrive, you may also see X’s begin to appear on your icons. You can try uninstalling other cloud-based services if the connection is lost between the file and Google Drive or Dropbox.

  1. Select the Start menu.
  2. Click on “Settings.” The icon will look like a gear.
  3. Find and select “Apps.”
  4. Locate and select “Apps & features.” The icon will look like a bullet point list.
  5. A list of your apps will appear. Find the cloud-based app you use, and select it.
  6. Click on “Uninstall” and follow the prompts to uninstall the app.
  7. Reinstall the app according to the instructions on the product’s website.

After the app is reinstalled, the X’s should stay away. Keep in mind that if this solution doesn’t fix the issue, the X’s could reappear after some time. How much time must pass for the X’s to return depends on the app and the core issue.

Windows Icons and the X

X’s appearing on Windows icons is a common problem that users may experience for various reasons. These can range from cloud-based connectivity issues to refreshing icons. Thankfully, there’s a solution for every case. Now you know what advice to give if someone asks you, What does the X on icons mean in Windows?

Have you solved your issues with X’s appearing on your Windows icons? What solution worked for you to get rid of them? Let us know in the comments below.

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