While we all love to keep icons and files on the Desktop for quick access, it results in too much clutter. As Windows changed, it allowed you to hide the desktop icons, so everything looked cleaner. That said, now that Start Menu and Taskbar have evolved, putting icons on the Desktop may not make a lot of sense. Now some users have reported that the desktop icons do not show when they place them on their Windows 11 or Windows 10 desktop. If you face this issue, then this post will help you.
Desktop icons not showing in Windows 11/10
Follow these suggestions to bring the icons back on your Windows Desktop:
- Enable show desktop icons
- Check desktop icons settings
- Restart File Explorer
- Scan and fix corrupt files on windows
- Check Group Policy setting
- System restore
- Check the Registry Editor setting.
Some of the methods may need admin permission.
1] Enable show desktop icons
If Windows has set to hide the desktop icons or you have done it earlier and forgotten about it, you can enable it quickly. Right-click on an empty area on the Desktop and click on View > Show desktop icons. All hidden icons will show up instantly.
2] Check desktop icons settings:
If you are missing some of the desktop icons such as This PC, Network, Recycle Bin, you can manually add them, appearing on the Desktop.
Go to Windows Settings (Win + I) > Personalization > Themes. Under Related settings, locate and click on Desktop icon settings. It will open another window where you can select which desktop icons can appear on the Desktop. Once you select it, click on the Apply button, and the icons appear.
3] Restart File Explorer
If the icons were already there and suddenly disappeared, the quick fix is to restart the File Explorer. To do that, follow the steps:
- Open Task Manager using Ctrl + Shift + Esc
- Under the Processes tab, locate Windows Explorer
- Right-click on it, and select Restart
Everything on the Desktop will refresh, and icons should appear right away.
4] Scan and fix corrupt files on windows
The problem can also occur in some of the corrupt system files are related to the Desktop. The right way to fix it is by using the System File Checker. The built-in tool can repair corrupt files and replace them with new ones.
- Open Run prompt (Win + R)
- Type wt and press Shift + Enter to launch Windows Terminal with admin permission
- Execute the command
SFC /scannowand wait for it to complete
Restart the File Explorer and check if the desktop icons are available.
5] Check Group Policy setting
Open the Group Policy Editor and navigate to:
User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Desktop.
Now select the Desktop folder, present in the right pane. On the right-side locate Hide and disable all items on the desktop.
Double-click on it to open its Properties box. If Enabled, this setting removes icons, shortcuts, and other default and user-defined items from the desktop, including Recycle Bin, Computer, and Network Locations.
6] System restore
The last resort is to restore the System to go back to normal. The only thing you need to be sure of is correctly picking up a restore point where everything is working as expected.
- Open Run prompt using Win + R
- Type rstrui.exe and then use Shift + Enter to launch with admin permission
- Click on the Next button, select one of the available restart points, and click Next
- Post this, follow the wizard.
7] Check the Registry Editor setting
If desktop icons are not showing at all which include desktop shortcuts and system icons (like Recycle Bin), then there are chances that an associated setting in Windows Registry is configured for it. If that is the case, then you need to check the Registry Editor setting in your Windows 11/10 computer and make it correct. Before that, a Registry backup is recommended. After this, you can follow the steps mentioned below:
- Open the Registry Editor
- Access the Explorer key
- Delete the NoDesktop DWORD value
- Restart File Explorer
- Close the Registry Editor.
Here are the details for these steps.
First of all, open the Registry Editor window. Type regedit in the Search box of Windows 11/10 and use Enter key for this.
Now access the Explorer Registry key. The path for this key is:
On the right-hand side of the Explorer key, look for the NoDesktop DWORD value. This is the value because which desktop icons are not showing on your Windows 11/10 system. So, you need to delete it.
Right-click on the NoDesktop DWORD value and use the Delete option. A Confirm Value Delete box will appear. Press the Yes button in that box.
In the final step, you need to restart File Explorer. Now all your desktop icons will appear immediately.
These were all the solutions you need to fix the missing Desktop icons. I hope the post was helpful, and you were able to find why desktop icons were not showing in Windows.
Why am I not able to click on the Desktop Icons?
It happens when the shortcut is broken, or the file association has a problem. Follow out a detailed guide on how to fix the unclickable desktop icons. Once you fix the Desktop Icons and File Associations, it should be working again.
Why are my icons missing in the Start Menu?
Windows Start menu always had quick access to folders and settings. It is missing right from Windows 10 and has been configured such that users can choose what appears in the Start menu. Go to Settings > Personalization > Start > Folders. Here you can configure which ones should appear.
How to recover hidden icons in the System tray on Windows?
Any application can add its icon to the system tray. Sometimes you see the icons. Sometimes you don’t. The icons usually appear when there is activity, but if you want to keep an icon visible, you can do so using the Taskbar Settings.
Go to Windows Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Taskbar corner overflow. Toggle on the settings next to the app icon you want to appear. Now you should be able to see the icons in the System tray.