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Windows 7: Desktop Icons not working

20 Aug 2010   #1

windows 7
Desktop Icons not working

Trying to help friend working in Canada. He's using Samsung N220 netbook running Windows 7 Starter Edition (32bit)

On start-up, no issues. Can open and run happily programsusing desktop icons until that is, he opens IE8. When this is minimized or closed, then all desktop icons become unresponsive. Hovering the mouse over an icon does not highlight it .

Programs can be run only by going to start button and either selecting program shown in panel or selecting 'all programs' and choosingrequired program

Can anybody help resolving this problem and get desktop icons working


My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Aug 2010   #2

Systems 1 and 2: Windows 7 Enterprise x64, Win 8 Developer

So it's possible the desktop is unresponsive as soon as the program is launched. What if you restore down (double square box in upper right)? Is it still unresponsive? When you end IE8, does it still appear in processes?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Aug 2010   #3

Systems 1 and 2: Windows 7 Enterprise x64, Win 8 Developer

Also, did this suddenly happen, or only happen after IE8 was installed? If it suddenly happened, check for viruses, malware. Lastly we can uninstall and reinstall IE8. Btw, are there any plug-ins, add-ins with IE8? You may want to uninstall those to test.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

20 Aug 2010   #4

windows 7


Samsung N220 is new so hardly used. I've setup for him and ensured fully updated before he went off to Canada. The problem may of existed before or after updates. No way of telling

Received your first response whilst online (Skype) with him. When restored down, desktop icons still unresponsive ditto when IE closed down. Task Manager processess showed 6 (six) instances of iexplore.exe when IE running (!????!). When IE closed down 4 (four) instances still showing (!???!) Open IE; 6, Close IE 4.

My XP system shows 2 when IE8 open and none when closed.

Got him to shut down and restart his system. Now system performing OK. can open and close IE and desktop icons responsive. Tried upteen times and still OK. Task Manager process info shows 2 instances of iexplore.exe when IE running and none when closed.

Rather disconcerting as expect problem will reappear as before. He's been in Canada for a week now so machine been stopped and started numerous times and problems re-appeared

Any further assistance greatly appreciated. Would you recommend resetting IE8 and/or uninstalling and re-installing ??
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Aug 2010   #5

Windows 10 Pro X64

I don't think you can uninstall IE8 from Windows 7. It's was part of the OS so not uninstallable. You can reset it though.

Edit: Sorry, I am wrong. You can according to Microsoft.
When you remove Internet Explorer 8, your earlier version of Internet Explorer is restored with your customizations (such as add-ins, Favorites, and your home page). However, Internet Explorer 8 is a part of Windows 7. Therefore, if you remove Internet Explorer 8, you will have to install a third-party browser to be able to browse the Internet.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
31 Aug 2010   #6

Windows 7 Professional 32bit
Partial Answer to why desktop icons stop working

I have a partial answer to why your desktop icons stop working. Mine do the same - intermittently. Following a tip from another forum, which suggested a connection between Internet Explorer 8 and this problem, I opened Task Manager and discovered 3 instances of the iexplore.exe process, two of which were ghosts from previous IE8 hangs. I closed my IE window and killed the remaining processes, and my desktop became fully functional again.

It seems that this problem is caused when Internet Explorer 8 hangs, which it does for me fairly frequently. When it does, I usually use Task Manager's Applications tab to restart it. Evidently, that sometimes causes IE's window to close and reopen, but leaves a rogue iexplore.exe task running. It's the rogue iexplore.exe task that makes the desktop stop responding.

The remaining questions are: Why does Internet Explorer hang, and why does that cause the desktop icons to become unclickable?

I can begin to provide some more information, but it would be helpful if others who have experienced this problem could jump in with some more. Maybe we can then get to the bottom of this issue.

I'll begin by saying that at least in my case, trying to troubleshoot this in Safe Mode would be a waste of time. The problem is not going to manifest at startup in Safe Mode. For that matter, it doesn't manifest on a regular startup, or even after simply logging out and logging back in.

It may very well be a software conflict of some sort. IE hangs frequently for me, most often while I'm using via my Virgin Mobile broadband Internet USB stick. That accounts for over 90% of my IE usage on my Windows 7 computer, so I'm not in a good position to say if it occurs when any one of those things isn't in use. I can also tell you that the hangs occur most frequently when my Virgin Mobile broadband device is getting poor reception. It could be that either the mobile broadband software or IE times out if it waits too long for a reponse from a web site (and remote control sites require a lot of data to be sent back and forth, which increases the opportunity for such timeouts) and hangs.

Or it could be something else. My system setup is not especially complex, but I don't have a whole lot of stuff that I'm willing to uninstall for the purpose of troubleshooting this annoying but minor problem. For example, I use 4 gizmos on my desktop, all of which shipped with Windows 7: calendar, clock, weather and news feed. The latter two require Internet access to update. Incidentally, the gadgets continue to respond even when the desktop icons don't. But if evidence starts pointing to these gadgets, I don't mind turning them off.

However, my computer is a Lenovo ThinkPad, which uses Lenovo's ThinkVantage software. I'm not willing to uninstall those to see if they're causing this problem. I find the ThinkVantage Toolbox to be a handy way to keep my notebook updated with the latest patches and drivers from Lenovo (and they seem to send out an unusually large number of those), and I want ThinkVantage Access Connections to manage my wireless connections because it does some very helpful stuff when I move from network to network, such as managing default printers and firewall settings, that Windows 7's built-in WiFi tool doesn't do. Could either of these ThinkVantage programs be causing a conflict with IE? Of course they could. But I'm not willing to do without them unless it turns out that almost everybody experiencing this problem is using a ThinkPad and ThinkVantage software.

The other applications installed on my computer are Adobe Shockwave Player, Flash Player, Air, Reader and DreamWeaver CS3, the software for my Canon PIXMA MP500 printer, Diskeeper 2009 Trial (which I'm uninstalling as I type this because the trial expired some time ago and I thought the software had uninstalled itself anyway), InterVideo WinDVD 8, Java v6 Update 21, Microsoft Office Home & Student 2007, Norton Internet Security 2010, Picasa 3, Nitro PrimoPDF, Roxio Creator Small Business Edition (OEM - came with the computer) and Skype. All updates available from Lenovo and Microsoft are installed. Everything else installed is a driver or utility provided with the system, needed for some component or another to function. My computer has exhibited the IE hang/frozen desktop problem intermittently since I bought it, which probably rules out Dreamweaver and Skype as culprits, since those programs are my only recent additions.

I welcome others to chime in so we can see if we can find the proverbial smoking gun.

Mark Lebowitz
Lebowitz IT Services LLC
Chicago, IL
My System SpecsSystem Spec
05 Oct 2010   #7

windows 7


Your comment................" a connection between Internet Explorer 8 and this problem, I opened Task Manager and discovered 3 instances of the iexplore.exe process, two of which were ghosts from previous IE8 hangs. I closed my IE window and killed the remaining processes, and my desktop became fully functional again"

Spot on. followed suit and all now OK. My friend thanks you.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Nov 2010   #8

Widows vista 64
Same issue in Vista

This morning I mistakenly downloaded a recommended Windows update…
(Something I seldom do…)
(Explorer 8 Compatibility View List for Windows Vista (KB2447568)
Now I suffer from the same issue regarding desktop icons becoming unresponsive to clicking…

I have found that by opening the task manager and ending the process explorer.exe- then opening file/ new task and typing in explorer.exe the problem temporarily resolved itself...
I have also now noticed the same issue with iexplore running multiple times under my processes (something that never happened prioir to the update) and manually closed these…. This also seems to resolve the issue temporarily…

By reading several forums on this issue the general consensus seems to be that it stems from a bug in the windows updates themselves… as that is the shared catalyst for causing the issue with several bloggers ....
My question is how the multiple instances of iexplore running can be resolved without having to resort to a dump and clean install of my OS... As this problem seems to be connected to the registry itself….
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Nov 2010   #9

windows 7 Home Premium
Same issue after update.

Removing the excess iexplorer tasks works for me. Hopefully a new update is on its way. Originally noticed it after the computer went to sleep but it is not related.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Nov 2010   #10

Widows vista 64

Problem was resolved by setting iexplorer back to default settings and removing all add ons in IE 8...Now finally when I close IE it will also end the numerous ghost iexplore processes that were running in the task manager...It must have been related to the Windows compatibility view update from this morning...
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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