Fix: Recycle Bin icon does not refresh automatically in Windows 10/8/7

The Recycle Bin icon in Windows is set to display different icons when it is full and when it is empty automatically. If you find that when your Recycle Bin does not refresh but shows the same icon, irrespective of whether it is empty or full, here are some trouble-shooting steps you can try. Hopefully, one of these, should help you.

Recycle Bin icon does not refresh automaticallyRecycle Bin icon does not refresh automatically

Before you carry out any of these suggestions, I recommend that you check if your Recycle Bin is corrupted, and reset it, if it is.

1] Check if you have installed any third-party Theme or an Icon Package, and see if uninstalling it makes the problem go away. If so then the problem is in the Theme or Package. Also try switching the theme to Windows Classic theme and them back to Windows Aero default.

2] Right-click Desktop > Personalize > Change desktop icons > Disable / Uncheck Recycle Bin. Then click Restore Defaults. Click OK. Reboot. Now using the same method Enable /Check Recycle Bin, then restore defaults. Click OK. Refresh Desktop. See if it helps.

3] In the ‘Desktop Icons settings’ Dialog Box, check on Recycle Bin and click on the ‘Recycle Bin Empty’ icon. Click on ‘Change Icon’ tab.


From the new box which opens, select the icon that shows the ‘Recycle Bin Full’.  Do the same for ‘Recycle Bin Full’ icon.  Change it to ‘Recycle Bin Empty’ icon.

In short you are inter-changing the icons.

Now click Apply and check whether, when the Recycle Bin is full, the empty-icon show, and vice versa.

If it does help, go back and again change back the icons, to what they should be, using the same procedure, mentioned above.

4] Use the Group Policy Object Editor. Run gpedit.msc to open the Group Policy Editor. Navigate to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Desktop > Remove Recycle Bin icon from desktop > Double click on it > Enable > Apply Reboot.

Next, follow the same above-mentioned steps. But this time instead of ‘Enable’ select ‘Not Configured. See if it helps.

5] Repair or Rebuild the Icon Cache. For this the easiest way would be to download and use our Icon Cache ReBuilder.

6] Check this if you think your Recycle Bin is corrupted.

This post will interest you if you find that your Windows Desktop does not refresh automatically in Windows.

Now read : Recycle Bin tricks.

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.


  1. Nothing to do with this but I have a problem.

    How to stop this from popping up every time I start my


    I had it built so it’s not an ASUS and about three weeks old I installed windows 7
    professional on it.

  2. Delete the file. Its a temporary file. Else use Disk Cleanup Tool to do it.

  3. I do this religiously every night but it is still there when I start it up

  4. Something is re-creating it religiously. Run CCleaner. Run your AV. Then check your Registry start up locations, Startup file and also the Task Scheduler for entries which may be doing this. Hope this helps in some way.

  5. Ok I will fill you in in case somebody else has the same problem.
    the CC Cleaner did not fix it, I searched the registry and could not
    find it, in the task scheduler it would not work, so I left it on the screen and
    deleted the process from the task manager, if I had closed it like I have been doing it would never have worked and it worked I rebooted to check.

    Thanks for your efforts Anand I really appreciated it

  6. Dan

    Re this comment string and topic “recycle bin”: I too just had a long day trying to figure out why after deleting a video clip edit of about 3.92GB I deleted it, emptied recycle bin, yet windows explorer, Defraggler, WebRoot, and others kept seeing/treating the 3.92GB file like still there and counting against free space as IE temp files, with IE 11 also acting funny; you know how many files on OS Win7 there are, yet not a single thing when EVERY file checked; AVs found nothing; figuring ghost files from audio/visual which import copies via file tunneling, I even added (later deleted) a local machine system key to set tunneling to “0”…still 3.92GB issues persisted; native disk cleanup/chkdsk/et al, even Unlocker, could find/do nothing.

    Then, suspecting corruption of recycle bin at that point, I opened elevated command prompt and entered old XP/Vista trick “rd /s /q C:$Recycle.bin”, answered “yes” to cmd query, right-clicked desktop screen and clicked “refresh”; instantly 3.92GB was back as free space, no more reports of ghost files either! In fact, a little more space, which I always thought was exigency of updates/apps installing and chewing space over time, was also returned to me.

    I guess I mean that if Recycle Bin is having icon problems, might be good to see if it has corruption problems as well.

  7. Thanks for reminding me about this Dan. Must make a post on it. 🙂

  8. SirLancelotTheMisspelled

    The easiest thing to do?

    Create copies of your .ico files and give them the extention .ico,0 (that’s dot ico zero).

    Worked like a charm!

  9. Paul Davis

    Indeed. Worked like a charm. Good call.

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