Symptom

When you open Windows Explorer, the shell folders such as Documents and Pictures may be displayed with a standard folder icon rather than the special folder icons.

Resolution

This behavior can occur when the desktop.ini file in the shell folder is missing or incorrect, or it has no attributes set. The default contents of the desktop.ini file for various shell folders in Windows Vista are given below. In each shell folder that's missing the special icon, create a file named desktop.ini and paste the content corresponding to the shell folder.

Then right-click the file desktop.ini and choose Properties. Place checkmarks near Hidden and Read-only attributes, and click OK. Next, you need to set the Read-only attribute for the shell folder.

Set the Read-only attribute for the shell folder

Open an elevated Command Prompt. To do so, click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, right-click Command Prompt, and then click Run as administrator. Using the Attrib command, set the Read-only attribute for the shell folder itself.

Example:

Note: Where Ramesh (in the above example) is the user account name, and Music is the shell folder name. You may run the Attrib command from any Command Prompt path, as long as you mention the full path to the folder, as in the above example.

Tip: Alternately, you could use the Copy as Path shell command to copy a shell folder path to the clipboard, and paste it in the Command Prompt so that you don't have to manually type the entire path.

Logoff and login again for the changes to take effect.

Desktop.ini contents for various shell folders in Windows Vista

Documents

[.ShellClassInfo]
LocalizedResourceName=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-21770
IconResource=%SystemRoot%\system32\imageres.dll,-112
IconFile=%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll
IconIndex=-235

Pictures

[.ShellClassInfo]
LocalizedResourceName=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-21779
InfoTip=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-12688
IconResource=%SystemRoot%\system32\imageres.dll,-113
IconFile=%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll
IconIndex=-236
[LocalizedFileNames]
Sample Pictures.lnk=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-21805

Music

[.ShellClassInfo]
LocalizedResourceName=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-21790
InfoTip=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-12689
IconResource=%SystemRoot%\system32\imageres.dll,-108
IconFile=%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll
IconIndex=-237
[LocalizedFileNames]
Sample Music.lnk=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-21806

Videos

[.ShellClassInfo]
LocalizedResourceName=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-21791
InfoTip=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-12690
IconResource=%SystemRoot%\system32\imageres.dll,-189
IconFile=%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll
IconIndex=-238
[LocalizedFileNames]
Sample Videos.lnk=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-21807

Searches

[.ShellClassInfo]
LocalizedResourceName=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-9031
IconResource=%SystemRoot%\system32\imageres.dll,-18
[LocalizedFileNames]
Indexed Locations.search-ms=@shell32.dll,-32811
Everywhere.search-ms=@shell32.dll,-32814
Shared By Me.search-ms=@shell32.dll,-32802
Recent Music.search-ms=@shell32.dll,-32803
Recent Documents.search-ms=@shell32.dll,-32804
Recent Pictures and Videos.search-ms=@shell32.dll,-32806
Recent E-mail.search-ms=@shell32.dll,-32807
Recently Changed.search-ms=@shell32.dll,-32813

Downloads

[.ShellClassInfo]
LocalizedResourceName=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-21798
IconResource=%SystemRoot%\system32\imageres.dll,-184

Favorites

[.ShellClassInfo]
LocalizedResourceName=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-21796
IconResource=%SystemRoot%\system32\imageres.dll,-115
IconFile=%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll
IconIndex=-173

Contacts

[.ShellClassInfo]
LocalizedResourceName=@%CommonProgramFiles%\system\wab32res.dll,-10100
InfoTip=@%CommonProgramFiles%\system\wab32res.dll,-10200
IconResource=%SystemRoot%\system32\imageres.dll,-181

Desktop

[.ShellClassInfo]
LocalizedResourceName=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-21769
IconResource=%SystemRoot%\system32\imageres.dll,-183

Links

[.ShellClassInfo]
LocalizedResourceName=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-21810
IconResource=%SystemRoot%\system32\imageres.dll,-185
DefaultDropEffect=4
[LocalizedFileNames]
Public.lnk=@shell32.dll,-21816
Searches.lnk=@shell32.dll,-9031
Recently Changed.lnk=@shell32.dll,-32813
Music.lnk=@shell32.dll,-21790
Pictures.lnk=@shell32.dll,-21779
Documents.lnk=@shell32.dll,-21770

Saved Games

[.ShellClassInfo]
LocalizedResourceName=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-21814
IconResource=%SystemRoot%\system32\imageres.dll,-186

Public Desktop

[.ShellClassInfo]
LocalizedResourceName=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-21799

Public Documents

[.ShellClassInfo]
LocalizedResourceName=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-21801
IconResource=%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-235

Public Music

[.ShellClassInfo]
LocalizedResourceName=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-21803
InfoTip=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-12689
IconResource=%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-237

Public Pictures

[.ShellClassInfo]
LocalizedResourceName=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-21802
InfoTip=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-12688
IconResource=%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-236

Public Videos

[.ShellClassInfo]
LocalizedResourceName=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-21804
InfoTip=@%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-12690
IconResource=%SystemRoot%\system32\shell32.dll,-238