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Desktop icons disappeared? Check our top 7 solutions

Desktop icons disappeared

Many Windows users have faced the perplexing problem of their desktop icons disappearing, leaving them with a blank screen. In this article, we’re going to delve into the possible solutions if desktop icons disappeared. So, if you’ve recently encountered this issue, keep reading, and hopefully, you’ll discover the fix you need.

What to do if Desktop icons disappeared in Windows 11

When desktop icons disappear in Windows, it can be disorienting and disrupt your workflow. This issue can result from several factors, including system settings changes, software updates, or errors caused by updates.

Here are the effective solutions to restore your desktop icons:

Solution 1: Enable Desktop icon visibility

Sometimes, desktop icons are hidden due to a change in settings. Luckily, you can restore their visibility in a few clicks.

Right-click on the desktop, hover over View, and ensure that Show desktop icons is checked. If it’s unchecked, click on it to restore your icons.

Solution 2: Use the Settings App to Adjust Icon Settings

Windows settings might have been altered, causing icons to disappear. You can adjust these settings in Personalization Settings, by following these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > Personalization > Themes > Desktop icon settings.
  2. In the Desktop Icon Settings window, ensure that the icons you want to display on the desktop are checked.
  3. Click Apply and then OK.

Solution 3: Check the Display Settings

If your display settings are misconfigured, especially with multiple monitors, it might cause icons to disappear. Here’s how to check additional Display Settings:

  1. Right-click on the desktop and select Display settings.
  2. Verify that your display arrangement is correctly configured. If you’re using multiple displays, ensure that they are set up correctly. You might need to drag and rearrange the display positions to match your physical setup.
  3. If icons were moved to a secondary screen that’s no longer connected, you can select Detect or Identify to better configure your display settings.

Solution 4: Restart Windows Explorer

Restarting Windows Explorer can refresh your desktop environment, potentially restoring missing icons. Here’s how to restart Windows Explorer process in Task Manager:

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open the Task Manager.
  2. Find Windows Explorer in the list, right-click on it, and select Restart. This will refresh the desktop, taskbar, and start menu, possibly bringing back the missing icons. Desktop icons disappeared

Solution 5: Use System Restore

If your desktop icons disappeared after a recent change or update, using System Restore to revert your system to a previous state might help. Follow these instructions to restore system to a previous point:

  1. Type Create a restore point in the search box on the taskbar and press Enter.
  2. In the System Properties window, click System Restore.
  3. Follow the prompts to choose a restore point before the icons disappeared and complete the restoration process.

Solution 6: Scan for Malware

Malware or viruses can sometimes cause icons to disappear as part of their disruptive activities. Running a full system malware scan is advisable.

Use Windows Security (or your preferred antivirus software) to perform a thorough scan of your system. Follow any prompts to address potential threats and then check if your icons are restored afterward. We recommend AdwCleaner by Malwarebytes against PUPs and similar intrusive tools.

Solution 7: Check for Windows Updates

Sometimes, if desktop icons disappeared, you can blame the recent system update.  A reason more to check for newer updates that, hopefully, address the issue. Here’s how to check for Windows updates:

  1. Go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update.
  2. Click Check for updates and install any available updates. After updating, restart your computer and check if the icons have been restored. Desktop icons disappeared

Navigating the issue of disappearing desktop icons in Windows can be frustrating, but with the right approach, it’s usually a fixable problem. By exploring the solutions provided, from adjusting visibility settings to performing system restores, you stand a good chance of getting your desktop back to its familiar state.

Remember, maintaining a secure and updated system is key to preventing such issues in the future.

Picture of Aleksandar Ognjanovic

Aleksandar Ognjanovic

Managing editor at Mobile Internist. @lemmingspain My fascination with mobile technology, particularly Android and iOS, began years ago and continues today. I'm captivated by the constant evolution in the smartphone industry and its impact on our daily lives, always anticipating the next big innovation. That’s the main reason why I found myself writing instructive content on the subject for users who are not as familiar with all the bells and whistles.
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