Evil Grey X'sThere you are, minding your own business, when suddenly you realize that all the shortcut icons on your desktop have changed somehow…

You look closely, and finally you realize that all the little “shortcut arrows” that indicate an icon is a shortcut have been replaced (magically, of course) by a grey “X”.

Sometimes, it’s not a grey X, but another weird symbol.

In any case, this problem is really annoying, and you’d like to fix it.

What to do?

Piece of cake!

I actually had this problem several times in Windows 7, and Windows 8, and Windows 10! The grey X’s look like this:

Grey X on shortcut icons

It seems to occur randomly, and there are several fixes out there. There is one fix though that is very quick, very easy, and it has worked for me every time.

Pick any file that has a grey X (or other wonky symbol) on it. Right-click on it and choose Open with…

You’ll see something like this:

Open with... Popup
Depending on the type of file, the default app/program will be different than what is shown above. That’s fine!

You don’t actually need to change the app you’re using to open this file type.

All you really need to do is click the OK button. Usually, I also click the Always use this app to open ___ files checkbox, just for good measure. You can always change it later using the same process!

That’s it.

When you click OK, Windows will redraw your desktop icons, and poof! Your grey X’s are gone, and you should once again see the proper shortcut symbol like so:

Fixed Shortcut Icons

Wasn’t that easy?

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