HOWTO: Fix Windows 7 Profiles (desktop icons not load) 2

My desktop machine (Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit x64) recently stopped loading icons when I logged in. The start menu and and everything seemed to work except my Desktop.  After scouring the web there seemed to be a few proposed solutions:

  1. System Restore
  2. Explorer isn’t running/ registry WinLogon or userinit.exe isn’t properly set
  3. Too large files on Desktop (I can’t find this link now, but most of these are in multiple places)
  4. Create New User and import data from the old profile

These weren’t good for me.  System Restore is never ideal, it’s just rolling back to before you made some unknown mistake, and you’ll probably lose stuff on the way. Explorer was running and userinit.exe was running.

I was also tipped off that this was an issue with a local user profile because I had another user account that was loading fine. I didn’t want to create a new user and import data because there are lots of settings and things attached to this account, it also just seems like a messy way to fix this.

How I fixed it, in the registry:

HKCU/Software/Microsoft/Windows NT/CurrentVersion/Winlogon set FirstLogon to 1

rename HKCU/Software/Microsoft/Windows to HKCU/Software/Microsoft/WindowsOLD or something like that

Log out and log back in.  This will create most of a clean explorer/windows profile.  The one issue left is preferences don’t seem to save properly (file associations, taskbar, etc…)

The way I fixed this was to export HKCU/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Explorer from a clean profile.  Log back in to your original profile.  You have to delete HKCU/Software/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Explorer in your registry; As far as I can tell you can’t edit these values regardless of permissions, but it will let you delete the whole directory (Nice one MS). Then import the version you exported previously, log out and log back in.

You will lose a few things — generally settings in Explorer (file preferences, themes, etc..) unfortunately.  I didn’t really feel like chasing down specifically which values got corrupted in mine, but if you were to look within the Windows registry folder addressed above and fiddle it could probably be found without too much effort — I was fine with basically reseting my explorer profile.

Hope this helps someone, if something I said is unclear feel free to ask for clarification.

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