Icons disappeared from desktop: Windows desktop icons (icons, shortcuts) are a convenient way to launch applications or open folders because many applications create them automatically when you install them on your computer. You can easily access various applications and programs by saving shortcuts on your desktop yourself.
But sometimes you may encounter various issues on Windows. For example, one of the most similar problems is when you see that the icons from the desktop have disappeared, as if they were not there at all.
This is an unpleasant situation that prevents you from working productively on your computer when the icons on the desktop of a laptop or desktop PC have disappeared. If the icons disappeared from desktop, you need to fix this problem in order to fully use the Windows operating system.
In this guide, we will look at several reasons why all the icons have disappeared from the desktop. The main reasons for the lack of icons on the Windows desktop:
- An erroneous change in the settings of the operating system that hides icons on the computer screen.
- Using Windows tablet mode
- Changing Windows settings by a computer administrator.
- Problems with caching.
- Damage to system files.
In the instructions in this article, we will tell you what to do when the icons are missing from the Windows desktop. Use the presented methods to restore icons on the PC screen in Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7 operating systems.
If this is the first time you have encountered this problem, then restart your computer, perhaps this action will immediately fix the problem. However, if this is a permanent phenomenon, then you should apply the fixes below to make the problem go away on your device.
How to restore icons disappeared from desktop – 1 way
The Windows operating system has an option that immediately hides all icons on the desktop. This setting is changed via the context menu on the desktop, so you may have unknowingly disabled this setting yourself.
Do the following:
- Right-click anywhere on the Windows desktop.
- In the context menu that opens, click on “View”.
- In the menu that appears, check the box next to “Show desktop icons”.
If you see that this option is enabled, and the icons are not displayed on the desktop, then this means that the problem lies elsewhere.
Icons disappeared from desktop in Windows 10 in tablet mode – method 2
Windows 10 has a built-in tablet mode that allows touchscreen device users to use their laptop as a tablet. You can instantly switch between two different interfaces with a single tap. This is convenient, but in many cases can cause problems. For example, in tablet mode, desktop icons may disappear.
Go through the steps to check if you are using tablet mode:
- Press the “Win” + “I” keys.
- In the Settings app window, go to System.
- On the left sidebar, open the Tablet tab.
- In the “When I log in” option, depending on whether you use this mode or not, set “Use a mode suitable for this device” or “Never use tablet mode”, and in the option “When I use this device as a Tablet” – “Do not switch to tablet mode” or “Ask for permission before switching modes.”
- Click on “Change advanced tablet settings”.
- If tablet mode is on, turn it off.
- Restart your computer.
Customize Desktop Icon Options – Method 3
Let’s analyze the situation when the icon disappeared from the desktop and how to get it back. In this case, not all icons disappear, but only some of the icons that you need.
If you or someone else on this computer has changed icon settings, this may have caused some icons to disappear from the desktop. You can check your desktop icon settings to make sure the icons you want are selected and enabled.
Do the following to resolve the issue:
- Right-click on an empty spot on your desktop, and select “Personalize” from the menu that opens.
- In the personalization options, open Themes.
- Among the related options, click “Desktop Icon Options”.
- In the window that opens, you can select or deselect the icons that you want to make visible on the desktop. Make your choice, then click Apply and then OK.
Restarting Windows Explorer – Method 4
Windows Explorer is a navigation tool that allows us to easily access files and folders. Desktop icons are part of the explorer.exe process that runs on your computer. If there is a problem with this process, it can lead to such problems when the icons disappeared from the Windows desktop.
This problem is quite easy to solve by restarting the process on your computer:
- Right click on the start menu.
- Select Task Manager.
- In the “Processes” tab, find the process named “Explorer”, right-click on it and select “End Task”.
- Only the Task Manager window will remain on the PC screen. Enter the File menu and then select Run New Task.
- In the Create Task window, type “explorer.exe” or “explorer” and then click OK.
- Windows Explorer will restart.
See if the problem with the disappearance of icons is resolved.
Checking settings in group policies – method 5
For Professional, Enterprise, and Education editions of the Windows operating system, you can check the settings in the Local Group Policy Editor. Perhaps they were changed by the administrator of the computer.
Do the following:
- In the Windows search box, type “gpedit.msc” to open the system tool.
- In the “Local Group Policy Editor” window, follow the path:
User Configuration → Administrative Templates → Desktop
- Right click on “Hide or disable all desktop items”, click “Edit”.
- In the window that opens, set the value to “Not configured”, and then click “OK”.
Checking the integrity of system files in SFC – method 6
Due to corrupted system files, many functions of the operating system may not work. Scanning with the built-in SFC (System File Checker) utility helps to recover all corrupted files.
If the icons from the Windows desktop disappeared and other methods did not help you, run a system scan in SFC.exe from the command line or Windows PowerShell.
Do the following:
- Run Command Prompt or Windows PowerShell as an administrator.
- Type the command, and then press “Enter”:
- It will take some time to check the integrity of system files, depending on the amount of data on your system.
- If the scan completes without errors, you’ll see a message: “Windows Resource Protection found no integrity violations.”
- If you see the message “Windows Resource Protection found corrupted files and successfully repaired them”, it means that the problem has been fixed.
- Restart your PC and check the result.
Restoring the Desktop Icon Cache – Method 7
Windows determines which icons to display on the desktop through cache files. In some cases, this cache may not be in sync with the actual icons you have created on your desktop. You can delete these cache files so that Windows will restore them after a restart.
Go through a few steps:
- Turn on the display of hidden folders on your computer.
- In the Explorer window follow the path:
- Find the “IconCache.db” file, right-click on it, select “Delete”.
- Empty the Recycle Bin.
- Restart Windows.
Updating Outdated Drivers – Method 8
If you have automatic Windows Update enabled, you can skip this step because your computer’s drivers will be automatically updated. You can manually update certain drivers in the Device Manager.
An outdated graphics driver can cause desktop icons to disappear in Windows. Before updating any other driver, please update your video adapter driver first.
Do the following:
- Type “Device Manager” in the search box on the taskbar, and then launch this application.
- In the Device Manager window, select the driver you want to update.
- Right click on it, click Update Driver.
- Next, Windows will update this driver.
- Check the fix for the problem after you restart your computer.
How to get desktop icons back using Windows Recovery – Method 9
If the problem occurred after installing software or making changes to the computer’s configuration, you can roll back Windows to a previously created system restore point. This will return the PC configuration to the state when the icons were displayed on the desktop.
Reset Windows to factory settings – 10 way
If icons have disappeared from the desktop, then how to return them in situations where the above methods do not help, and there is no system restore point on the computer. This is the least desirable option to restore and reset your computer.
Resetting the computer will remove all applications, it is possible to return Windows to its original state while preserving personal data or deleting all information.
On the other hand, you will be able to restore your computer to its original state and solve all the problems that you encounter.
Icons on the Windows desktop can disappear for various reasons. There are many ways to return the desktop to normal. Apply the suggested fixes to see your desktop icons again.
If our guide helped you fix your PC desktop icons disappearing issue, please let us know which method worked for you in the comments below so other users can benefit from it.