Tiny icons or blocky icons on your DIRECTV Genie Menu?

Have you sat down to watch TV and found that all the icons on your DIRECTV guide are really small? Have you noticed that some of the menu graphics are really blocky, like they came from an old Nintendo? I’ve been there too and I can explain what’s happening and why it’s nothing to worry about.

When a DIRECTV receiver or client is installed, it only has low-resolution versions of most graphics on it. I don’t know why this is, but my guess is that it goes back to the old days when there wasn’t a lot of storage space on the actual receivers. Until 2011, DIRECTV boxes didn’t have any high-definition graphics in their menus at all, and I think this whole scheme dates back even further. It’s also been said that the HD graphics are separate from regular software downloads in order to keep the file sizes small, so people aren’t interrupted for a long time when new software is downloaded.

Sometime in the first week after you get your DIRECTV equipment, there’s a “supplementary” download which includes channel logos, high-definition graphics, and new icons. All of a sudden, all by itself, everything looks a lot better. And that’s where it should stay except…

Occasionally, and very rarely, DIRECTV DVRs throw what I would call a “hissy fit.” They just can’t take it anymore, something isn’t working and they just can’t figure out a way out of it. This doesn’t happen a lot, because these are complex computers running modern operating systems. But it does happen. In a case like that, rather than freezing up or giving you some incomprehensible blue screen of death, it dumps all the data it can and starts over. Every effort is made to keep things like your recordings, series links, and other preferences, but when it comes to the things you can’t see like logs, custom downloads, interactive content and the like, those are all tossed and the DVR goes back to its factory configuration.

And that means, you guessed it, tiny icons and blocky pictures.

Here’s the good news though, generally this problem fixes itself within two days. The DVR still works, although it’s a little ugly to look at. It may also seem a little slow while it’s trying to get the icons it needs from a satellite download or from the internet.

If you’re still laboring with blocky or tiny images after two days, generally this easy fix will get you back in business:

  1. Press the red reset button on the DVR. This may be hidden behind a spring-loaded door on the front, or it may be on the side.
  2. When you get back to live TV, immediately press the red button again.

Obviously you won’t be able to watch or record TV while this is going on so choose a good time to do it when no one will be affected.

This clears out a lot of things from your DVR, including any supplementary downloads. See, if you’re still seeing blocky icons, it’s because something went wrong with the supplementary download. This starts the whole process again, so within about 2 days those nice pretty icons will magically appear for you.

If it doesn’t, this usually indicates some sort of serious problem. If your DVR is over two years old, it may be time for an upgrade. Luckily the fine folks at Solid Signal can help out. Often times, you can even get new hardware for free. Give them a call at 888-233-7563 and maybe you’ll qualify!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.