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Windows 10 Taskbar Flickering or Flashing? Here’s How to Fix It

The taskbar is one of the oldest UI elements on Windows 10 and it hasn’t changed much over the years. Microsoft may have tried to push the Start menu on Windows 8/8.1 as an alternative app launcher but most users prefer to use the taskbar when they need to open a frequently used program.

The taskbar hosts two types of icons; pinned app icons, and icons for apps that are currently open. For some apps, like Chrome, the icon may also show activity e.g. a download that is in progress or a badge that tells you there are unread messages.

The taskbar can also show other toolbars and the system tray, while given its own separate name, is really just a part of the taskbar and not a separate UI element. 

Taskbar icons flashing & flickering on Windows 10

Taskbar icons can show some app activity but they’re generally static meaning the icons are never animated themselves unless there is activity to show for the app. If the icons on the taskbar are flashing or flickering, it isn’t normal. Here are a few things you can try to fix the problem.

1. Check the app

It’s possible that an app icon is flashing because the app is showing an important alert.

  1. Click the app icon to bring it to the front.
  2. Check for any pending messages or flashing alert boxes.
  3. Resolve the message/alert.
  4. The app icon will stop flashing.

2. Remove UI modifying apps

Windows 10 allows users to modify its UI by installing third-party apps and they may cause the icons on the taskbar to flash and flicker. 

  1. Open the Control Panel.
  2. Go to Program>Uninstall a program.
  3. Go through the list of installed apps.
  4. Select an app that modifies the UI or the taskbar.
  5. Click the Uninstall button.
  6. Repeat for all apps that modify the UI.
  7. Restart the system.

3. Run system scan

Try running a system scan for corrupt or damaged files. The scan will be able to resolve some issues.

  1. Open Command Prompt with admin rights.
  2. Run this command: sfc /scannow
  3. Allow the command to complete and check if the flickering and flashing stops.

4. Run disk image check

There may be a problem with Windows’ own system files that’s causing the flickering. The DISM tool can scan system files for errors like this and fix them.

  1. Open Command Prompt with admin rights. 
  2. Run this command: DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Checkhealth
  3. Once the command completes, run this command next: DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth
  4. Allow both commands to finish, and restart the system.

5. Check display drivers

The flickering and flashing may have to do with your display driver. If it’s outdated, or if it’s recently been updated, it may be causing problems.

  1. Open the Device Manager.
  2. Expand Display adapters.
  3. Right-click your display, and select Properties.
  4. Go to the Driver tab.
  5. Check when the driver was last updated.
  6. If it has recently been updated, click the Roll back button to go back to an older version and see if the problem goes away.
  7. If the driver is old, click the Update Driver button, and install any updates that are available. 
  8. Restart the system and check if the problem is resolved.

6. Update Windows 10

This is a bug in Windows 10 1709. This version of Windows is well out of date so it’s a good idea to update to the newest version. The update will resolve the issue. 

  1. Open the Settings app (Win+I keyboard shortcut).
  2. Go to Update & security.
  3. Select the Windows Update tab.
  4. Click Check for updates.
  5. Install feature updates that are available.

7. Create a new user account

If you do not feel like updating Windows 10, you can always try and create a new user account. The new account is far less likely to have this bug.

  1. Open the Settings app (Win+I keyboard shortcut).
  2. Go to Accounts.
  3. Select the Family and other users tab.
  4. Click ‘Add user’.
  5. Set up a new local user.
  6. Sign in as the new user.

Conclusion

The Taskbar icons flashing & flickering bug can appear after a Windows update, or even after a fresh installation. The reason is likely something wrong with Windows’ files which is why many users are able to fix the problem by creating a new user or updating Windows 10. In the end, that may be what works for you as well.

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