What does Refresh Desktop or Refresh explorer window actually do?

I am sure that you must have noticed that when you right-click on your Windows desktop or inside an open explorer window, you see an option called Refresh in the context menu. The Refresh option has been there since you can remember!

But have you really wondered what this option actually does? Does it refresh your Windows OS and keep it running smoothly? Does it make your Windows faster? Or maybe you think it will clear your computer’s memory or refresh the RAM…? Actually it is none of these!

What does Refresh Desktop or Folder do

The Desktop is nothing but a folder in the Windows operating system. It is programmed to auto-refresh when its contents change. When the contents of the folder changes, it will auto-refresh. But at times, you may find that the desktop or folder does not auto-refresh.

You may then need to refresh your desktop manually in the following circumstances:

  • The desktop does not display the files or folders you just created, moved, deleted, renamed or saved on it
  • You need to re-align your desktop icons
  • You find that you cannot use the desktop icons.
  • Files that were created to the desktop by some 3rd-party application do not appear
  • And such similar situations where the contents of the desktop or the folder do not change when expected to.

In such a case, when you press F5 or right-click on your Windows desktop and select Refresh, the situation will be corrected. Manually refreshing the desktop or folder may re-order its contents as, folders first, then files, in an alphabetical order.

But if you constantly need to use the Refresh option frequently, to refresh your desktop or explorer windows, you may want to see this fix – Desktop does not refresh automatically in Windows.

Why do some people Refresh desktop constantly?

You may have noticed that some people just refresh their desktops frequently for the sake of refreshing it. It has become almost like a compulsive disorder, to refresh the desktop constantly. You may have noticed this habit especially among some Computer Engineers and Technicians who are obsessed with using the Refresh option – almost in a state of frenzy.

What is the reason for this? There is no need or reason to do this. It is just a silly habit, they simply need to break.

Do you have any friends who are in habit of using Refresh Desktop option frequently? Maybe you want to share this post with them.

Or maybe you too are one of them … if so do try and break this habit! 😉

NOTE: The Refresh option cannot be removed from the right-click context menu, or changed as it is not a shell extension, but is hard coded in the operating system.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.