General discussion

Unwanted shortcuts show up on desktop after startup

My son's XP computer - he is the only regular user and has a non-admin login account - every time he logs in following a computer restart, has some number of unwanted shortcut icons strewn around his desktop.

The number might be as few as 10 and it might be several dozen. It tends to be shortcut icons from 1-3 programs, repeated again and again. Firefox is one whose shortcut tends to come up a lot. So do shortcuts to games that haven't been played in eons. The FF shortcut is in the quick launch bar; the other shortcuts aren't.

This does not happen when I log into my (admin) account on the computer.

But I have cleaned my son's desktop so it's a recycle bin and nothing else, emptied the recycle bin, restarted - and blammo, all those unwanted shortcut icons.

The computer is AVG Free scanned nightly and nothing bad is ever discovered.

I run malwarebytes and superantispyware (updated, boot to safe mode, run program) a few times a year and this always comes clean.

Ran ccleaner on the registry and it cleaned a few things out, but this didn't fix it.

Ran msconfig, did not look super hard at the stuff in the startup tab, but nothing looked out of line.

This problem has been happening for a month or so.

What would cause a non-admin user account to repopulate its desktop with unwanted shortcut icons every time after startup, when there's no detected malware, and when the admin account on the computer doesn't do this?

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Re: icons
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re: Unwanted shortcuts show up on desktop after startup

Thanks Kees_B.

I am at work right now, but some research I did suggests that deleting the icon cache might be an idea, although it looks like that tends to be the solution more when icons appear differently. Whatever, it's the first thing I'll try. Since the icon cache is user-specific, and other accounts on the computer don't have this problem, I have hope.

Guessing the answer is yes - I should look before I type - but is there a useful tutorial about transferring profiles? I'd like to avoid that solution though, just because I'd rather find out what caused the problem in the first place.

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Re: transfering profiles tells all you want to know, if you need it. It's not really difficult.

If you keep careful notes of what you copy, and check if everything still is fine once in while (logoff + logon) you might be able to locate the cause. And once you know that, you may be able to correct it in the original profile. So it starts as a easy way to find the culprit, and it might end to be the only solution. That's when you copied everything and it still doens't happen again.

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Problem has been solved

Before I had a chance to try any of the suggestions, I logged onto his computer in my administrator account, aiming to clean off the desktop (his).

Expecting to see 15-20 unwanted shortcut icons, when I looked at his desktop folder under "Documents and Settings" there were more than 1200 shortcut icons in the folder. I deleted them, restarted the computer, and his desktop was back to normal.

Regarding their creation I suspect that he was "spazzing out" (technical term) one day and some unneeded copying and pasting happened.

Regarding why icons kept appearing, I am guessing that the visible desktop would not repopulate itself until restart, even though the icons were in the folder - and that we'd only see what we could see because the desktop can only hold so many files.

Anyway, problem solved.

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(NT) Good job. Thanks for telling.

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