How to Fix Adobe Acro­bat DC and Read­er DC Miss­ing Icon Issue

For the past several months, I've had to deal with an Adobe Acrobat Reader DC installation that didn't display the proper taskbar icon whenever I launched it. In its place, all I could see was a generic-looking icon that resembled the native Photos app. The issue even affected the Start menu entries of the program.

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Acrobat Reader DC still worked fine, but the missing icon just bugged me a lot. And repairing the program did nothing to resolve the issue. That is why I finally took the time to look around for a method to fix it using other means.

But what surprised me was the fact that this missing icon bug had been plaguing users for years. Obviously, Adobe has done nothing to patch it up. Even Adobe Acrobat DC (Pro and Standard) seems to be affected by this.

Thankfully, I found a couple of ways to get the proper Adobe Acrobat DC or Acrobat Reader DC icon back on the taskbar and Start menu. In my case, the first method fixed the missing icon immediately. So go through it, and then try out the second method in case that fails.

1. Replace Start Menu Entry

The first method requires you to replace the broken Adobe Acrobat DC or Acrobat Reader DC Start menu entry with a shortcut based on the executable file of the program. Surprisingly, this will end up fixing the missing icon issue.

I've written the following steps targeting both versions of Adobe Acrobat. So make sure to perform the required adjustments where necessary.

Step 1: Delete the Adobe Acrobat DC or Acrobat Reader DC shortcut from your desktop. If there's a shortcut for the program pinned to the taskbar, unpin it as well.

Note: Skip this step if you have no such shortcuts on the desktop and taskbar.

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Step 2: Open File Explorer, copy and paste the following folder path into the address bar, and then press Enter:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs
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Step 3: Locate Adobe Acrobat DC or Acrobat Reader DC among the list of Start menu shortcuts that show up. Hint — it should look like a generic Windows 10 icon. Right-click the shortcut, and then click Delete.

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Step 4: Open a fresh instance of File Explorer, and then navigate to the following location as per your Adobe Acrobat installation:

Adobe Acrobat DC (Pro and Standard)

C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Acrobat DC\Acrobat

Acrobat Reader DC

C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Acrobat Reader DC\Reader
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Step 5: Right-click the executable file labeled Acrobat (for Adobe Acrobat DC) or AcroRd32 (for Acrobat Reader DC), point to Send To, and then click Desktop.

Tip: Executable files end with the .EXE file extension. If you are unsure, click the View tab, and then check the File Name Extensions box to unhide all file extensions.

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Step 6: Go to the desktop, right-click the newly-created Acrobat.exe or AcroRd32.exe shortcut, and then select Rename.

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Step 7: Name Acrobat - Shortcut as 'Adobe Acrobat DC' or AcroRd32 - Shortcut as 'Acrobat Reader DC.'

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Step 8: Right-click the shortcut again, and then select Copy.

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Step 9: Open the File Explorer window from Step 2 — if you closed the window, go to the same location again. Right-click a vacant area and select Paste.

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Step 10: Click Continue to provide File Explorer the permission to paste the shortcut. Once you are done, exit the window.

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Step 11: Open Adobe Acrobat DC or Acrobat Reader DC, either via the desktop shortcut or the Start menu.

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And voila! You should see the proper Adobe icon show up on the taskbar. The Start menu entries should also reflect the correct icon from now onward.

2. Change Default .ICO App

If the method above failed to work, you must change the file association for ICO (.ico) files from the Photos app to Microsoft Paint. To do that, you must dive into the Windows 10 Settings app.

Step 1: Open the Action Center, and then click All Settings.

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Step 2: Click on the tile labeled Apps.

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Step 3: Switch to the Default Apps side-tab, scroll down the list of default apps, and then select 'Choose default apps by file type.'

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Step 4: Locate the file extension labeled .ico (ICO File). Switch the default app for the extension from Photos to Paint.

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Exit the Settings app, and then launch Adobe Acrobat DC or Acrobat Reader DC. You should see the proper icon on the taskbar. The same applies for the Start menu entries.

The Circus Is in Town

With the two methods above, you can easily get the Adobe Acrobat DC or Acrobat Reader DC icons to show up correctly again. But why is this issue caused in the first place? Adobe likely bungled up the file extensions for their shortcuts in a format that Windows 10 doesn't really support. That seems to be the only plausible explanation.

That said, you may have to go through the fixes above again if a future Adobe Acrobat or Windows 10 update breaks things or reverts your modifications to their defaults. But until Adobe gets their act together, you have no choice but to deal with this issue repeatedly whenever it recurs.

Next up: Getting blinded while reading PDFs at night? Check out these four awesome PDF readers with built-in night mode functionality.


The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.

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Dilum Senevirathne joined Guiding Tech in 2018, where he writes about products and services by Google, Apple, and Microsoft. Particularly notable for his expertise in iOS, he enjoys breaking down complex tech topics into digestible explainers, action-packed how-tos, and comprehensive troubleshooting guides — without the jargon.

Besides contributing to GT, Dilum studies management accounting (AICPA/CIMA) with an emphasis on areas such as Big Data analytics. He plays around with Python code in his spare time.