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Windows icons too small; Some icons smaller than others [Fix]

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If some icons on your desktop or File Explorer appear smaller than others, read this post. We will show you how to fix this issue the right way.

Windows icons too small; Some icons smaller than others [Fix]

A few users have reported a strange issue where application icons, particularly gaming icons, shrink randomly on their Windows 11/10 PC. When this happens, a thin white border appears around the shrunken icon image. According to the users, the issue seems to affect .url & network shortcuts more; the rest of the desktop icons appear in their normal sizes.

Why did some of my desktop icons shrink?

Outdated or corrupted graphics/display drivers may cause issues with the rendering of icons. If your desktop icons are shrinking, make sure your drivers are up-to-date. If only some of the icons are shrinking while others remain unaffected, there’s possibly an issue with your icon cache.

It is also possible that the ICO file for the problematic icon doesn’t contain all standard-size images (these images allow the operating system to choose the most appropriate icon based on factors such as screen resolution, color depth, high-DPI display, etc.).

Fix Windows icons are too small in Explorer

If some icons appear smaller than others on your Windows 11/10 PC, use these solutions to fix them:

  1. Rebuild the icon cache
  2. Clear thumbnail cache
  3. Convert URL shortcuts to normal shortcuts
  4. Modify icon size using Registry Editor

Let us see this in detail.

Some icons smaller than others on Windows desktop

1] Rebuild the icon cache

Rebuild the icon cache

Windows stores icons associated with files, folders, applications, and system elements in a cache, so it doesn’t have to retrieve the icon repeatedly from the source file. This cache can sometimes become corrupted, causing inconsistencies in the appearance of icons. Rebuilding the icon cache can help resolve issues related to icon display on a Windows 11/10 PC.

Here’s how you may rebuild the icon cache on your system:

Close all the running apps on your system. Type ‘command’ in Windows Search box and select Run as administrator under Command Prompt. In the Command Prompt window, type the following command and press Enter:

taskkill /f /im explorer.exe

The above command will end File Explorer process.

Now type the following commands one by one and press Enter after each command:

cd /d %userprofile%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer
attrib –h iconcache_*.db
del iconcache_*.db

The above command will delete icon cache files. Next, type the following command and press Enter:

start explorer.exe

The above command will restart File Explorer, automatically rebuilding the icon cache in the background.

2] Clear thumbnail cache

Clear thumbnail cache

The thumbnail cache typically stores previews or thumbnails of image files, video files, and other media content. However, in some cases, game shortcuts may have associated icons that resemble thumbnails. If the operating system or caching mechanism treats these icons as thumbnails, they could potentially be included in the thumbnail cache. In that case, clearing the thumbnail cache might help resolve the issue.

Follow these steps to clear the thumbnail cache on your Windows 11/10 PC:

Open Command Prompt using administrator rights as explained above. Type the following commands in the Command Prompt window one by one, and press Enter after each command:

taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
cd /d %userprofile%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer 
attrib –h thumbcache_*.db 
del thumbcache_*.db 
start explorer.exe

The above commands will stop the Explorer process and delete all thumbnail cache files. After this, the icons should show up in their correct size.

You can also use Thumbnail and Icon Cache Rebuilder to delete your thumbnail and icon cache with a click of a button.

3] Convert URL shortcuts to normal shortcuts

URL shortcut to LNK converter

If the issue is specific to Steam icons, they might not be the regular ‘.lnk’ files, but ‘.url’ files. ‘.url’ files are essentially shortcuts that point to a specific web address (URL) or location on the internet. Steam typically doesn’t create URL shortcuts, but if you see such shortcuts for your Steam games, they may have been created during a Steam update or installation of a game.

To fix the issue, you need to convert the URL shortcut to ‘.lnk’ shortcut that points to the game’s executable file (.exe) on your system. For this, you can download Url-Shortcut-to-Lnk-Converter from GitHub.

Once downloaded, double-click on the file to open the software. Paste the path of the directory that contains the problematic Steam icons in the ‘Shortcut Directory‘ field. Leave the ‘Use Custom Icons‘ option checked.

Place your custom icons (.ICO files) in another directory/folder and paste the path of that directory in the ‘Custom Icons Directory‘ field. Make sure the icons have the same file name as their corresponding shortcuts.

Click on the Convert button. The app will automatically convert URL shortcuts to normal shortcuts.

4] Modify icon size using Registry Editor

Modify icon size using Registry Editor

You can also modify the icon size using Registry Editor and see if it helps. However, be cautious, as editing the registry can cause serious system issues if not done correctly. Backup your registry and then proceed with the following steps:

Press Win+R and type regedit in the Run dialogue that appears. Press the Enter key. A User Account Control prompt will appear. Click on the Yes button in the prompt to continue opening the Registry Editor.

In the Registry Editor window, navigate to the following path in the left panel:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics

In the right panel, locate the key named Shell Icon Size. If you can’t find the key, create one by right-clicking on the empty area and selecting New > String Value.

Set the Value data to the desired icon size. The default size is 32. You can experiment with different values increased by 16 (48, 64, etc.). Click OK.

Next, navigate to the following path in the Registry Editor window:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags\1\Desktop

In the right panel, double-click on the IconSize key and set the Value data to the desired icon size, changing the Base to Decimal. For example, for medium-sized-icons, set the Value data to 48. Reboot your PC to apply the changes.

I hope this helps.

Read: Windows desktop icon spacing messed up.

How do I fix the size of my Windows icons?

Try changing the size of the icons using the View options on the Desktop. Right-click anywhere in the empty space on your desktop. Select View > Large icons/Medium icons/Small icons. The size of the icons will adjust accordingly. If that doesn’t help, select Display settings from the desktop context menu. Under the Scale and layout section, set the Scale and Display resolution to the recommended values.

Read Next: Can’t move desktop icons in Windows.

Windows icons too small; Some icons smaller than others [Fix]



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