How to Show, Hide, or Restore Windows 10 Desktop Icons

Can’t find Windows 10 desktop icons? Want to hide desktop icons on A Windows 10 computer? Unable to find specific Windows icons? Here are various ways on how to show, hide or restore desktop icons.

Last updated on February 2nd, 2020 at 2:18 pm

We normally create a lot of desktop icons to use them as a shortcut for most frequently used programs and files. At the same time, there are people who keep their desktop wallpaper absolutely clean and hide icons for better visibility. If you don’t know how to hide icons or how to show desktop icons or how to create one on the desktop wallpaper, we are going to explore these very basic hacks to show / hide / restore Windows 10 desktop icons.

How to Show, Hide, or Restore Desktop Icons on Windows 10

Activate ‘Show Desktop Icons’ Option

Show Desktop Icon

Step 1. ‘Right Click’ anywhere on the clear space of the desktop wallpaper.

Step 2. Click on ‘View’ option Go to ‘Show Desktop Icons’ and put a check to enable viewing desktop icons.

Note: You should be able to get all your desktop icons back on the screen.

Deactivate ‘Show Desktop Icons’ Option

Step 1. ‘Right Click’ anywhere on the clear space of the desktop wallpaper.

Step 2. Click on ‘View’ option Go to ‘Show Desktop Icons’ and remove the check mark to disable viewing desktop icons.

Didn’t work? Try the next solution!

Turn Off ‘Start Full Screen’ Mode

start full screen mode

While using windows in ‘Full-Screen Mode’ somehow hide the Desktop icons. Here are the steps to turn off the Start Menu Full-screen mode.

Step 1. Right-click on the Start button and click on ‘Settings’ Select ‘Personalization’ from the list click on ‘Start’ tab on the left hand side list toggle off ‘Use Start Full Screen’.

You may also ‘Right Click’ on on clear area of desktop wallpaper and click on ‘Personalization’ go to ‘Start’ tab on the left-hand side toggle off ‘Use Start Full Screen’.

Also Read: Common Windows 10 Problems & Solutions

Restore Default Windows 10 Desktop Icons

Desktop Icon Settings

If you’ve previously added or removed some of the ‘Special Icons’ like This PC, Network, User, Computer OR Control Panel to the desktop, OR if you want to know how to add computer icons on Windows 10 desktop background, you may follow these steps to do it.

Step 1. ‘Right Click’ on the clear area of the desktop wallpaper Click on ‘Personalize’ option.

Step 2. Go to ‘Themes’ tab on the left-hand side panel Under ‘Related Settings’ on the right-hand side of the window, Click on ‘Desktop Icon Settings’.

Step 3. Check to Add or Uncheck to Remove the Windows Desktop Icons from the list and Click on ‘Apply’ & ‘Ok’.

Also Read: How To Speed Up Windows 10 Boot Time

Toggle ‘Tablet Mode’ Off

Disable Tablet Mode

Step 1. Right click on ‘Start’ button to go to ‘Settings’ option click on ‘System’ and choose ‘Tablet Mode’ from the left-hand side panel.

Step 2. Scroll through ‘Make Windows More Touch-Friendly When Using Your Device As A Tablet’ and turn it Off.

Step 3. Select ‘Use Desktop mode’ under ‘When I Sign In’ drop-down list.

You should be able to see your desktop icons now. Try turning On and Off ‘Tablet Mode’ a few times If that doesn’t work. Still No Go? Try below steps!

Disable Any Secondary Monitor

One should also check if the secondary monitor is Enabled OR Disabled.

Step 1. ‘Right Click’ on the clear area of the desktop wallpaper Click on ‘Display Settings’ option.

Step 2. Under ‘Multiple Display’ select ‘Display 1’ as your primary display.

Restart ‘Explorer.exe’ Service

End Task - Windwos Explorer Service

At times, restarting ‘Windows Explorer’ also get the default settings back on the system. To perform the following, try out these steps.

Step 1. Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete key together and select ‘Task Manager’. You can also right-click on ‘Task Bar’ and click on ‘Task manager’. Or press ‘Win + R’ and type ‘taskmgr’ to open ‘Task Manager’.

Step 2. Go to ‘Processes’ tab and look for ‘explorer.exe’ or ‘Windows Explorer’.

Step 3. Select the process and click on ‘End Task’ / ‘Restart’ button at the bottom right corner of the window. You may also do the same by right clicking on the process and clicking on ‘End Task’.

Step 4. Go to the ‘File Menu’ of Task Manager and click on ‘New Task’. In the command run box, type ‘explorer.exe’ and hit enter. A New ‘Windows Explorer’ window should open on your screen.

Note: Once the service is restarted, you should get your desktop icons back on the screen. If not, you may restart the system and check if it comes up or not. Still not lucky? Try another solution!

Registry Edit To Show/Hide Desktop Items

Registry Edit For Desktop Icons

Note: Registry Editor is a very critical section of Windows and you need to be very accurate while tweaking it. Below steps are based on Windows 10 OS and needs to be followed with accuracy.

Step 1. Press ‘Win + R’ key together to open Run Dialogue Box.

Step 2. Open ‘Registry Editor’ by typing ‘regedit’ and click on ‘Ok’. You may also type the same in Search Bar and press enter to open.

Step 3. From the left-hand side panel, go to the following path and create a new 32-bit DWORD value with NoDesktop name and press enter. You may also copy-paste below address in the registry address bar. Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

Note: Regardless you are using 64-bit Windows, you will need to use a 32-bit DWORD as the value type.

Step 4. Set the ‘Value Data’ to 1 to hide and 0 to show the desktop icons.

Note: A logout and login will be required for changes to take effect. To apply the same option for all users, you need to ensure that you are logged in using an Administrator account.

Then, go to the following Registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

Create and configure the same value here, NoDesktop as described above.

Also Read: Best PC Cleaner Software

Using ‘Group Policy’ To Show / Hide All Desktop Icons in Windows 10

Group policy edit to show hide desktop items

Group policy is one of the important and sensitive step to show / hide all desktop icons in Windows 10.

Step 1. Press ‘Win + R’ key together to open Run Dialogue Box.

Step 2. Type ‘gpedit.msc’ and click on ‘Ok’ to open ‘Group Policy Editor’. You may type in the same in search box and press enter.

Step 3. Go to User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Desktop.

Step 4. Look for ‘Hide and disable all items on the desktop’ and enable the policy option to hide icons and disable to show icons. Click on ‘Apply’ and ‘Ok’.

Summing Up

We have covered various options to Show OR Hide Desktop Icons and hope these steps worked for you. If still, you are not able to see your desktop icons then you will need to perform Windows troubleshooting like running sfc.scannow or system restore or repair/reinstall to the extent.

Do let us know which one worked for you to show or hide Windows 10 desktop icons. We hope that this blog turned out to be useful and accurate for you. Do share your experience in Comments section to value add the information.

Next Read: Best Disk Defrag Software for Windows

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