Why have my Windows desktop icons disappeared?

Windows desktop icons disappeared
All gone: desktop icons can play hide and seek

Windows looks cool and minimalist without icons cluttering the desktop. That’s great if you chose to hide them away, but what if your Windows desktop icons disappeared of their own accord? Where have they gone? And how can you bring them back?

How to restore Windows desktop icons

Relax. It’s highly unlikely that everything saved on your desktop has been binned. The icons have probably just been hidden. We’ve seen this happen after Windows updates or Blue Screen crashes, leading to a mini-panic that all of your files have been deleted. 

To restore your Windows desktop icons, right-click on any blank space on the desktop (you should have quite a lot of that!).

You should see a menu like this:

Windows desktop icons

Click View, then select Show desktop icons from the sub-menu and your icons should reappear on the desktop.

If you’re fond of that minimalist look and don’t want the icons in the first place, that bottom option will change to Hide desktop icons if they’re showing. Just click that.

Now read this: Where is Disk Cleanup in Windows 10?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at

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