Disclosure: We are not providing any kind of paid support. Beware of scammers. This page may contain affiliate links read disclaimer

Desktop icons are not Showing – Icons Disappeared

Suddenly, desktop icons on my Windows PC are not showing. Icons disappeared from the desktop. The majority of programs were also missing from the start menu. If you are also facing the same issue, then I will guide you on how to get rid of this problem.

Why are desktop icons not showing?

There could below three reasons of missing desktop icons.

  1. Sometimes the desktop settings for “show desktop icons” get disabled in unusual ways. See Solution 1 for this.
  2. If you can’t see your taskbar along with your desktop icons, that means the explorer.exe file could not be loaded properly. See Solution 2 to fix this.
  3. There might be a possibility that a virus came into your computer and changed the desktop file’s attribute to “hidden.” Also, change the same settings in the system registry as well. See Solution 3Solution 4  for this.

How to fix – Desktop icons are not Showing

Below solutions may help you to fix this issue in all the versions of Windows like Windows 7, 8, 8.1, Windows 10, Vista, XP, and Server as well.

4 solutions to fix it

Solution 1 : Enable “Show Desktop Icons” option

  1. Right click on the clean area of the desktop
  2. Then click on “View” and then go to “show Desktop Icons” and click on it to make it checked.
  3. Your desktop icons will start appearing again.
enable the Show desktop icons to bring back disappeared icons

Solution 2 : Reload Explorer.exe

Note: Apply only if the taskbar does not appear

This method solved my issue.

Step 1:

On the desktop (No icons Screen) Press Ctrl+alt+Delete key together to open the Task manager.

Step 2:

In the Windows task manager, click on the “Processes” tab and here you’ll find Explorer.exe in the list, right-click on it and click on the End Process Tree. The explorer process will be killed, you’ll get a blank screen with task manager.

Desktop icon not showing (1)

Step 3:

Now go to file menu and click on new task (run), A run box will be opened. Type here: explorer.exe and press the enter button.

Fix missing desktop icons by reloading explorer.exe
Desktop icon not showing

Solution 3 : Registry Fix

  1. Press Windows ‘R’ (to launch Run.exe)
  2. In the Run program, type there regedit and hit enter
  3. Then in the Registry Editor program. follow this folder path
    HKEY_LOCAL MACHINE / SOFTWARE / Microsoft / WINDOWS NT / CurrenVersion / Winlogon
  4. Now click on  Winlogon and after clicking then look at the right side pane.
  5. Here you have to find the Item called “shell” and click on it twice (Double click)
  6. In the Value Data Edit box, Type Explorer.exe (The value of this key “Eplorer.exe) then click on OK
  7. Now restart your computer. After restarting the problem will be fixed.
Desktop icons are displaying

After that your desktop should be restored, you will get your desktop back.

If you are still not getting your desktop icons, it means there is no problem with explorer.exe. Now we have to go to solution 4.

Solution 4 : Run Unhide Tool

This is an automatic fixit utility.


Download Unhidetool.exe
(Freeware Utility)

Run this Unhide tool to fix the desktop icon missing issue.

If you still do not see the desktop icons, that means a virus has changed some registry settings. Please download the Unhide tool and run it to unhide all the desktop and start menu data to solve the “no desktop icons issue.”

In the end, if you are still unable to fix this issue, the problem could be due to a virus or malware infection. There is a high likelihood of one if no anti-virus software is installed in the system. In this case try to scan your system with a good malware cleaner and then install an antivirus software. At least use a Free antivirus software.


189 thoughts on “Desktop icons are not Showing – Icons Disappeared”

  1. Icons on my laptop had disappeared. Your advice was simply the clearest, concise, precise, accurate and on-point advice I have ever received. Excellent, worked instantly for my issue. Thanks a lot!

  2. Sir, my desktop icons are not showing but labels are present. The icons of files in hard drives and in fact the icon of the hard drives and other folders are not showing. Only the labels are seen. This is happening to other user accounts of my laptop. The user account which I created when installing windows 10 is not having this problem. I tried all of the four method but none helped me. Plz help me out…

  3. Suresh kumar

    Sir tried all methods but still problem has not been resolved, i have downloaded Unhide tool and run it but nothing changed same my desktop icons disappearing when i open it and sir also i have another problem in my laptop is when i open any file it shows file not found and many interrupted actions and delete key is not working to so i can resolve this plz help….

    1. Okay, could you please let me know if you can see the taskbar at the bottom of the screen?

        1. If your taskbar is not visible, it means the explorer.exe is not starting up automatically at a computer startup or it might crash due to other applications.

          1) In this case, try this: start explorer.exe from task manager as shown in solution 2 given above. (Press Alt + Ctrl + Del and then click on task manager). In the task manager, click on file menu and click on ‘Start a New Task’ then type explorer.exe.

          2) To make an explorer.exe automatic start up, try the above given solution 3.

          3) To stop explorer.exe file conflicting, ‘clean boot‘ your computer and check which application is making this conflicting.

  4. I went all 4 steps – last one is precious and should be firt IMO.
    4-th one is quickest and most possible at one tme – it’s easy to click on that usless option.

    Thank You very much for that article – probably i would discover that just before leaving Win7 for ever 🙂

  5. Jedidah Sale

    Hey, I still don’t know what’s happening with the windows. I can’t open some of my icons cause it’s saying “not a valid Win32 application” but it’s a Win64. Please help

  6. Hi I tried solution #3 and now after restarting my computer it’s just a black screen once I go past the log in screen. Any idea why this is happening?

    1. Maybe the “explorer.exe” spelling mistake occurs this type of problem. If you did it correctly then we suggest you to please reboot your computer in safe mode state and then reboot it to normal mode. If this trick doesn’t fix the issue, then we suggest you to please restore your computer back the earliest date.

  7. Dave hale

    My laptop has not yet stopped the issue…. The files I had put on my desktop are not there…. I search on the windows panel… Sometimes they show sometimes they don’t…. I arrange them on my desktop then after I turn off th system.. Everything vanishes… Even the wallpaper disappears….. The taskbar is there…. The only problem is the missing files… I have tried all the above…. None has worked… Help me please

    1. Techexpert

      If you can see the taskbar, it means the explorer.exe is working fine. The problem is in appearing desktop icons and files. To make sure the files are there, please double check in the explorer first.

      1. Go to the explorer, and open up “C:” drive.
      2. Then open “users” folder. All the user’s folders are there.
      3. Open up user name folder. In my case, it is “users2”
      4. Open up the “desktop” folder. Please check whether your files are there or not?

      Do you see other icons on your desktop other than files you are talking about? Please provide the screenshot of your desktop, it will help us to understand the issue’s situation properly.

    1. Please explain your problem in detail so that we can diagnose it and then give you a solution.

  8. Thanks a lot, buddy was having a bad day my laptop broke and my back up laptop was missing desktop and taskbar tried a lot of things but nothing worked, apparently came across your website and used regedit option that fixed it. You are a lifesaver!

  9. No task bar is not available I need to press ctrl +alt+del then I will get task bar
    No I can’t able to access any thing after disappearing desktop icons

    1. Do you get the desktop icons along with taskbar after applied solution2 from above methods?

        1. 1. Means, don’t you get all the icons on your desktop until reboot/logoff the computer?
          2. What happens when you run explorer.exe from task manager?

          1. Sorry for the inconvenience, we were asking you a bunch of questions to diagnose the issue.
            As we have diagnosed the issue, we have found a problem in your explorer.exe which is crashing randomly. We suggest you some steps, please follow the following steps.

            1) Clean boot your computer
            Temporarily disable all the 3rd party applications & services from your computer’s startup using “msconfig“.
            2) Boot your computer in SafeMode and observe your computer is still crashing desktop icons?
            3) Make stable your Explorer.exe using solution3 from this article.
            4) Run UnhideTool once.
            5) Check out the computer’s error logs using “Event viewer” to get the faulty file name and path. You can share its info with us for further suggestion.

            Please let us know after that.

  10. 2008 R2 sever desktop becomes blank after 15 to 20 minutes if I restart it will come but again after 20 minutes same problem I has installed antivirus also

    1. Could you please provide more info about the problem? Does the bottom taskbar still appear when your desktop becomes blank? (Is everything else working fine?) OR you have to reboot your computer to use your computer, or re-run the explorer.exe file?

      1. Everything is working fine but I can’t able to do anything if I want to go any applications also it’s not possible but applications will be working fine

        1. OK, please answer the following two more questions.
          1. Is the taskbar available on the desktop screen? What do you see on the desktop screen? please explain a little bit more.
          2. Are you able to access those applications from the start menu? after disappearing desktop icons?

    1. OK. Could you please explain more detail about the problem so that we can give you the steps accordingly.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top