When starting the Windows 3.x program manager or
variants such as Win-OS/2, this error message occurs::
Extremely low on memory. There is not enough memory to
convert all the program icons. The icons which are not converted
will appear black. You can fix this by choosing FILE.PROPERTIES
from the program manager (with the defective item highlighted) and
But attempting Microsoft's 'fix' results in the deletion of the
When you switch resolution or color depth, the program manager
converts icons to match. But it doesn't reserve enough memory to do
complete the job when the system is set to true color (16M colors)
and there are more than about 16 icons in a group. This is why some
icons turn black. Why Microsoft believed deleting a 'defective'
icon consitutes a 'fix' is something else again.
There are several ways to work around this problem.
Change to high color (64K color). Then you can have about 32
icons per program group and are very unlikely to run into this
problem. Often, the only reason for casual users to set truecolor
mode is if a video driver bug is causing a problem at 64K color. If
that's the case, you might try sticking with 64K colors but using a
different resolution. You might also try reinstalling your video
drivers. Often, installing fixpaks and options of various sorts
will change a *.dll file common to the video driver, resulting in
unexpected problems. Reinstalling the video driver recreates a
matched set of files, if you permit it to overwrite newer files.
This may extinguish the problem.
If you must use true color (16M color) mode, you can rearrange
the icons in your program groups so that there are no more than 16
in any one group. This, however, may be quite inconvenient as it
involves dragging unrelated icons from different programs into a
common program group.
Another possibility is to install the Workplace Shell for
Windows. This is IBM employee written software that simulates the
look and feel of the OS/2 Warp workplace shell. It is superior to
the Windows program manager in almost every way. Program manager
groups become folders that can have subfolders. You can have as
many as you want. And there doesn't seem to be any problem with the
number of icons in a group. Note that you can run this program
under OS/2 Warp, but only in full screen mode, though Windows
applications can still run on the OS/2 Desktop. Unfortunately, it
is not a panacea: there are a few Windows programs that can only be
installed under the program manager.
Still another possiblity might be to run under the Windows file
manager instead of the program manager. There were many people who
preferred this, but trying the Workplace Shell for Windows may be a
W. Gregg Extremely
Low on Memory: Black Program Icons (Dec. 2003)
(w-gregg.juneau.ak.us/ 2003/ text/ 2003l00-extremely-low-memory).