Windows Explorer Thumbnail on Taskbar Keeps Changing RRS feed

  • Question

  • A bit of standard background that all of you probably know:

    Windows 7 comes with Windows Explorer automatically pinned as a shortcut on the Taskbar, with the icon being the folder one associated with Libraries. Each time you open a "My ..." icon from the desktop or one of the shortcuts in the Start Menu, it will open using the Taskbar shortcut for Windows Explorer; or if you remove that shortcut, Windows Explorer will still open using the icon for Libraries in the Taskbar.

    My issue:

    My computer (Dell, 64-bit, Home Premium) used to work in the same way, until about a year ago; since then, quite curiously (and for whatever reason; it may have been after a System Restore or a Blue Screen of Death), when I open any one of the "My ..." shortcuts (this being WITHOUT any Windows Explorer icon pinned to the Taskbar), the icon that shows up in the Taskbar is the icon associated with whichever section of Windows Explorer that I wanted to open. The most explainable thing to say is that when you have Windows Explorer open, each tab on the left has an icon next to it; when I navigate to a section of Windows Explorer on my computer, it shows that section's icon on the taskbar, not the default Libraries one. And when I navigate to a different section, the icon in the Taskbar changes correspondingly. But when I pin the icon for Windows Explorer to the Taskbar, it shifts from whichever icon it is back to the default one for Libraries; and conversely, when I unpin Explorer from the Taskbar, it shifts back to whichever icon it was. It is truly strange.

    I tried to play around with two other computers I have (a Dell and a Sony, both 32-bit Professional), to see if I could replicate what I see on my first computer. When I open Windows Explorer (without it being pinned to the Taskbar), it opens with the default Libraries icon; I then pin Explorer to the Taskbar (while open), and it still shows the Libraries icon; but finally, when I unpin that Explorer from the Taskbar (all while open) it then shifts to whichever the icon is of what section I'm viewing. But when I right click on the icon in this state, it changes back to the Libraries default icon; or if I exit and reopen Windows Explorer, it will show the default icon again. In case you're wondering, if I right click on the Explorer icon on my computer with the problem, it remains the specific icon of what section I'm in, it does not revert.

    I also noticed something else. On the two normal computers I have, when I right click on Windows Explorer (whether it is pinned to the Taskbar or not) and look at its Properties, it tells me that it is a shortcut (.lnk) type of file that opens "%windir%explorer.xe". On my computer with the strange problem, when I open Windows Explorer (not pinned on the Taskbar), and right click and navigate to its Properties, it tells me that it is an application (.exe) type of file. But when I pin it to the Taskbar (and it reverts to the Library default icon as described above), and I look at its properties, then it tells me that is a shortcut (.lnk) type of file that opens "C:\Windows\explorer.exe". I have opened both directories (the %windir% one and the C:\Windows one) and they open the same location, but why does mine show a diffent path?

    Does anyone know anything about how this is happening, maybe what part of the Registry I should investigate or what I should do next? I have restarted my computer plenty of times, so this is not some isolated incident. 

    I actually intend to do a clean install of my computer because there is a lot of junk on it, but, believe it or not, I love this anomaly and would actually love to know the means of replicating it once I do the clean install.

    Saturday, February 6, 2016 7:55 PM

All replies

  • Hi,

    I think I have understand your question. Do you mean that you want each icon (Thumbnail) never combined in taskbar?

    If it does, please right click the taskbar > "Properties" > "Taskbar" tab. Then choose "Never Combine" in "Taskbar buttons" column. You could see the picture below.

    Hope it will be helpful to you.

    Best Regards,


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they help, and unmark the answers if they provide no help. If you have feedback for TechNet Support, contact tnmff@microsoft.com.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2016 2:47 AM
  • No, that is not my issue, if only it were so trivial. I have described the problem the best I can in my original post. The site is not letting me post images.  Thank you, though.

    Tuesday, February 9, 2016 3:53 AM
  • Hi,

    Thank you for your reply.

    After reading your first post again, I suppose that there is something wrong with system files which cause the disorder in taskbar. Please use SFC tool to fix these files and tell us the result after you run, especially it found the error but could not fixed.


    Also, you could create another user account to check the issue.

    Good luck to fix it.

    Best Regards,


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they help, and unmark the answers if they provide no help. If you have feedback for TechNet Support, contact tnmff@microsoft.com.

    • Proposed as answer by Charles_Wang_ Tuesday, February 16, 2016 3:19 AM
    • Marked as answer by Kate LiMicrosoft employee Friday, February 19, 2016 2:56 AM
    • Unmarked as answer by VZ23 Sunday, March 13, 2016 7:45 AM
    Thursday, February 11, 2016 8:09 AM
  • Hello, I just created another user account on my computer and yes, that account shows Windows Explorer as it should be. Is there a way to debug what is wrong with my current system account, but not fix it? I do not want to run the SFC tool and risk my issue getting fixed; believe it or not, I actually like this anomaly, and would just like to learn how to replicate it if I were to do a clean installation of my system. I actually want to retain what is wrong, incredibly. Thank you for any insight.
    • Edited by VZ23 Sunday, March 13, 2016 7:49 AM
    Sunday, March 13, 2016 7:48 AM