Fix: Desktop Icons are Missing in Windows 10

Windows 10 was launched months ago and it was a major change in UI over time. In Windows 10, Microsoft eliminated a number of GUI bugs present in Windows 8. The start menu was a major change that was desperately requested by the users. Keeping the start menu aside, there were also a bunch of modifications in GUI as well as performance. This major change in GUI confused a lot of users as it took a while for them to understand what was going on.

Some of the users have experienced a problem i.e. Desktop icons are missing in Windows 10. It is pretty annoying for the users who have a lot of stuff on their desktop and suddenly, they find it disappeared. Keeping that frustration in mind, I am going to try in order to fix this issue.

Reasons Behind the “Desktop Icons are Missing in Windows 10” Problem:

A majority of people are considering it a bug inside Windows 10 but it is not. It can happen accidentally and you may have modified some settings unknowingly. Windows 10 has two types of Modes built-in for the users’ facilitation i.e. Desktop and Tablet. Somehow, you might have enabled the Tablet mode leading towards the disappearing of Desktop icons.

Method # 1: Checking for Visibility of Desktop Icons

If all of your Desktop icons are missing, then you might have triggered an option to hide desktop icons. You can enable this option to get your Desktop icons back. Follow the steps below.

  1. Right-click inside an empty space on your desktop and navigate to View tab at the top.desktop icons missing 1
  2. Inside the View tab, check for the Show desktop icons at the bottom. In your case, it might be unmarked. So, mark it as checked by clicking over it. See the image below for illustration.desktop icons missing 2

Method # 2: Enabling the Desktop icons Visibility

If your default desktop icons are missing, you can make them visible inside the Settings. Follow the steps below.

  1. Search for Settings window using Cortana and open it from the search results.desktop icons missing 3
  2. Inside Settings, click on Personalization. From the next window, select the Themes tab from the left pane.desktop icons missing 4
  3. On the right pane of the Themes tab, click on Desktop icon settings to open the settings in order to enable the Desktop icon visibility.
  4. Select the icons you want to show on the desktop and click on Apply and OK buttons afterward.desktop icons missing 5

Method # 3: Disabling the Tablet Mode

As tablet mode is integrated inside Windows 10 to have a better touch experience for the Windows Tablet users, you might have accidentally enabled that mode resulting in the disappearing of icons.

  1. Open the Settings again and click on the System to open the system settings. On the left pane, click on Tablet mode and turn-off the tablet mode (if it is turned on) from the right pane.desktop icons missing 6
  2. Close the Settings window and check if your desktop icons are visible or not.

Method # 4: Initiating SFC scan

An SFC scan checks your whole computer for bad drivers or corrupted files and automatically fixes the issues. Therefore, in this step, we will be initiating an SFC scan. For that:

  1. PressWindows” + “R” keys simultaneously to open the RUN prompt.
  2. Type in “cmd” and pressShift” + “ctrl” + “Enter” keys simultaneously.
    Typing cmd in the Run Prompt and pressing Shift + Alt + Enter to open an elevated Command Prompt
  3. Click on “yes” in the prompt to provide administrative privileges.
  4. Type in “SFC /scannow” and pressEnter“.
    Typing “sfc/scannow” in the command prompt.

Method #5: Recovering icons from OneDrive

In some cases, Windows might try to tidy up your desktop and move the files into a folder named “Desktop!” in One Drive. Therefore, you can copy the files from that folder and paste them onto your desktop to get rid of this issue.

  1. Launch Onedrive and look for a folder named “Dekstop”.
    Desktop folder Onedrive
  2. Open the folder and copy all the icons present inside it.
  3. Paste these icons on your desktop.

Method #6: Using a Workaround

In some cases, the situation can be remedied by employing a workaround that was discovered by a user. Basically, you initiate the “Auto Arrange Icons” function on the desktop and the icons are returned. For that:

  1. Right-click anywhere on your desktop.
  2. Click on the “View” button and select the “Auto Arrange Icons” option.
    Selecting “Auto Arrange Icons” option
  3. Check to see if the issue is fixed.

Another Workaround:

  1. Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to open the task manager.
  2. Click on any Windows Explorer instances in the processes tab and end them.
    End Task in Task Manager
  3. Press “Windows” + “R” to open the Run prompt.
  4. Type in “cmd”  and press “Ctrl” + “Shift” + “Alt” to provide administrative privileges.
    Type “cmd” into the Run dialog
  5. Type in the following commands one by one and press “Enter” after each to execute them.
    CD /d %userprofile%\AppData\Local
    DEL IconCache.db /a
  6. Start Windows explorer back up from the task manager and check to see if the issue persists.

Kamil Anwar

Kamil is a certified MCITP, CCNA (W), CCNA (S) and a former British Computer Society Member with over 9 years of experience Configuring, Deploying and Managing Switches, Firewalls and Domain Controllers also an old-school still active on FreeNode.
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Expert Tip

Fix: Desktop Icons are Missing in Windows 10

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