Fix Duplicate Icons on Your Windows 7/8/8.1 Taskbar

The revised taskbar introduced with Windows 7 has been a real benefit to users, making it possible to always have frequently-used programs ready for action. However, not all developers account for pinned icons: for example, when updating iTunes, it is necessary to remove the icon, and then add it again after completing the update. Without doing so, you are likely to note the pinned icon, when right-clicked, is identified with a (2) after its name, which can be frustrating and seemingly impossible to correct: Windows does not make it obvious how to rename pinned shortcuts.

For many users, it is not clear why this has happened and the number does not change even if one of the icons is removed. Windows appends a (2) when it encounters a duplicate of the same file, but it is not initially clear where the pinned shortcuts on the taskbar are held. Removing the unnecessary numbers is possible, but it means entering a folder that is hidden by default. By entering the direct route to the files, it is not necessary to make these hidden folders visible, but the same result can be achieved quite easily.

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1. Open Windows Explorer and select either “Computer” or “This PC,” depending on your version of Windows. Windows 7 uses the term “Computer”, while all versions of Windows 8 change the name to “This PC.” Regardless of operating system, the folder structure beyond this point is the same.

2. Open the Users folder, and then select your own username, as the shortcuts pinned are unique for each person. This ensures you will not be modifying anyone else’s shortcuts.

3. Along the top of the window, you will see the name of the folder you are currently viewing as well as the folder it is in. Click this field, and it will change into the specific structure. This should display “C:\Users\Username”. Note that C:\ may not be the correct label depending on your own computer setup, while the specific username should be the same as that of the folder outlined in the previous step.

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4. Copy and paste this string of text to immediately follow your username:

The “AppData” folder is traditionally hidden in Windows. By pasting this text, you will not have to display hidden files and folders.

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5. After pressing Enter, the Explorer window will move inside the folder. From here, there will be a list of all pinned shortcuts. Simply find the shortcut with the offending name and change it to suit. When you reach the Taskbar folder, you may find two shortcuts for the same program. Delete one of the two shortcuts and rename the other to make it suit your naming preferences.

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Although hardly the most prominent issue you may encounter when using a computer, it can be frustrating when something as routine as a software update may otherwise ruin a carefully organised taskbar. While it should come as no surprise that the shortcuts are held in an Internal user folder, the fact it is an Internet Explorer folder is rather unusual. This guide should at least eliminate one of the more confusing issues to have appeared in recent versions of Windows.

8 comments

  1. Okay, this did NOT work. I followed this set of instructions step by step, down to the letter, and iTunes STILL shows up as two icons. When I go to the TaskBar folder, it lists all my apps–including iTunes–as just one thing, without the (2). And yet I’m looking at two duplicate iTunes icons on my task bar even as I type this.

    What do I do? This is kind of pissing me off!

    • Hi Andrew,

      This is a strange issue to try and diagnose. What happens when you right click one of the iTunes icons on the taskbar? Does it display all the appropriate information with regards to iTunes (Go to iTunes Store, Shuffle all music, etc.)?

      Try unpinning it from the taskbar and see what happens. If the name on a single icon still appears as iTunes (2), then follow these steps and modify the name again. That should hopefully fix it.

      • Thanks, Paul.

        After I posted my comment last night, I stumbled on a method that ended up working: (My specific problem was that I would click on the iTunes icon in my taskbar, and it would just bring up a duplicate icon, while the one on the taskbar remained idle.) Right-click on the active, duplicate icon, and then pin THAT to the taskbar. (You can then go ahead and remove the icon that already was on the taskbar.) And from there, I didn’t have any more problems with duplicates. Worth a try for anyone else who sees this and is experiencing the same issue.

  2. Not a problem Andrew!

    It has just occurred to me that I have seen that particular issue with iTunes, and only with iTunes. I haven’t encountered it with any other program, and it usually manifests itself (in my experience) when you update iTunes, as though the shortcut on the taskbar doesn’t update properly.

    Sometimes the taskbar icon changes as well, becoming what I presume to be a fallback if the original icon can’t be found. It’s definitely strange behaviour but thankfully it’s not very common. Did you update iTunes recently? I’m curious if that could be the source of the issue for you as well.

  3. Thank you so much! A while back, following an update, my iTunes decided it was going to display a broken thumbnail on the taskbar… I hadn’t been able to figure out how to fix it ever since the problem cropped up! I know it’s a different issue, but this article actually helped me with that one as well- I just had to delete the iTunes shortcuts in the TaskBar folder and it fixed the issue upon a reboot and a re-pin. You also taught me something new about Windows! Thank you!

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