Desktop icons are not Showing – Icons Disappeared


My desktop icons are not showing. Most of my programs are also not showing in start menu.

Answer (Solved)

There may be three reasons behind this.

  1. Sometimes the desktop settings “show desktop icons” get disabled unusually. 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. Might be a possibility that a virus came into your computer and changed the desktop file’s attribute as hidden. Also, change the same settings in the system registry as well. See Solution 3Solution 4  for this.

We are giving you some possible methods to fix this issue, please follow the steps carefully.

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.

Desktop icon not showing (4)

Solution 2 – Reload Explorer.exe (Fix it myself manually)

Note: Apply only if the taskbar does not appear


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

Desktop icon not showing (3)

Desktop icon not showing (2)

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 route
    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 Automatic Fixit

unhide-tool-logoDownload Unhidetool.exe
(Freeware Utility)

Run this Unhide tool to fix the desktop icon hide issues.

If you still do not see the desktop icons, that means Virus has changed some registry settings, please Download the Unhide tool  and run it to unhide all the desktop of start menu data to solve the “no desktop icons issue 

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Q: My taskbar and start menu have also disappeared. Can I use this guide to bring them back?

A: Yes, this tutorial will work to bring back the missing desktop icons,  Start button, Start Menu, Task bar etc.

Q: Desktop icons won’t appear. Is it due to virus attacks or is there any other issue?

A: If you are not using any antivirus software it could be due to the virus otherwise you may try to fix if it is due to some other Windows internal problem. If there is no antivirus in the system, at least  download free antivirus for basic protection.

Q: Desktop icons and taskbar suddenly went. Is it due to malware?

A: Yes it could be, firstly follow the steps above to fix this issue. If that doesn’t help, then scan your computer with a  malware removal tool. And to avoid future occurrences, always keep a free antivirus in your system to protect yourself from basic virus attacks.

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

  1. 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. 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.

  2. 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 🙂

  3. 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

  4. 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?

  5. 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. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. i couldnot solve the problem …i tried all the steps but nothing worked….still have the problem that only microsoft icons not show like MS word ,powerpoint or photos etc they work but not show properly on desktop and icons are hidden on taskbar…..please help ….

  10. Basant kumar mishra

    Dear sir,/Madam
    Solution 2 was helpfull for me i opend my laptop it was opening but not showing menu ,start and any kind oter icons so tried solution 2 and this was really helpfull for me thanks so much .

  11. My laptop : HCL ME Notebook
    OS : Win 7 Ultimate
    I have tried all the steps listed above but my problem is not solved.
    1.I have my program icons in desktop and when I right click on it, there is no OPEN option and I can’t open it.
    2.In the taskbar, the programs I pinned is not opening and the windows says :
    “CAN’T OPEN THIS ITEM ; It may be deleted,renamed or moved”
    Please solve my problem.

    1. If you are getting this message “CAN’T OPEN THIS ITEM”, it means the application which is associated with this shortcut is removed or renamed. This type of activity done by viruses. Maybe a possibility, the shortcut file association gone corrupted. Anyway, we are giving you some steps below, please perform them one by one and let us know.

      1. Download the .lnk file association default registry file and run it to set all default values.
      2. Download the .exe file association default registry file and run it to set all default values.
      3. Run the Unhide tool for once.
      4. Run Trojan Remover Tool

      After that report us back with the results.

  12. My Yahoo key icon is not working. I also forgot my password. I got a new number and never update my number with my yahoo account and is giving me the old phone number to verify if is me

    1. In this case, you need to touch with Yahoo support team directly, because only they can help you to recover your own account.

  13. Dear Sir/Mam,

    My icons-disappeared all network same issue maybe some virus detected so not solving my problem
    You can some help me??
    Best regards,
    Furqan Ahmed

  14. My Problem is my DT icons are showing fine, until I go to save a (file, pic) in SAVE AS and click desktop and no icons show and it does not save to my desktop???

    1. In order to resolve this problem, you just need to turn off a setting.
      Follow the following steps:
      Go to the Settings and then click on “Update and Security“, click on Windows Defender in left side tab and after that click on “Open Windows Defender Security Center
      In this new window, click on “Protection” from Virus and Threats, and then make it turn off the “Access to Controlled Folders” option.

  15. Very useful. Could successfully get back all mu Desktop icons using unhdetool.exe. Thanks a ton for releiving my anxiety.

  16. Thank u so much……solution 2 worked for me in no time
    My desktop was not working, not even the right click and my icons were missing too
    All these solutions are on the mark..go for it

  17. You have created a wonderful tool for removing adware! Thank you so very much! I wish your program had a desktop icon option at install.

  18. I fond a solution on another forum – just type “winword/r” into your start menu search box – fixed problem immediately

  19. A greatful reader

    Thank you so much! Right clicking and selecting “view desktop icons” worked for me. I’d done everything under the sun and had almost given up hope. Thanks for putting in the time to help people. It means a lot! You are awesome! : D

  20. Thank you…. This website is really helpful. You guys need to go to simple solution 4 first before dignosing with other complicated solutions. I figured out mine after second trail , by just clicking displaying desktop icons. It make my day! <3

  21. Definitely the 4th solution

    Cat took a wild walk on keyboard. Icons gone! What’s happening?! …oh, I see. View. Show desktop icons. … It took me a week to figure that out.

    1. What about taskbar and right-click? Is task-bar appears? Are you able to do right-click on this black screen?

    1. Maybe it due to monitor cable is connected properly – So, please check the monitor cable and connect that correctly. Let us know if still face this issue.

  22. Everything on my computer has disappeared. I have my desktop picture but nothing else. I can right click and it has view and icons settings but nothing that can help me and if I hit “control-alt-delete” it goes straight to a black page and after 2 minutes, my desktop picture comes back. I do not even have a task bar to shut down the computer. All I can do is shut the tower down. HELP…please

    1. @terrilee
      You should try solution 4 from this page. It should work in your case.
      Please let us know again if doesn’t work.

  23. Had that problem a few times. just do a restore in safe mode, it worked for me and run your anti virus program after you do that to see if anything comes up. hope this can help some of you peeps…

  24. this steps work for temporally, after these step i do restart the system same problem is displaying again. please suggest for permanent solution.

  25. Solution 2: worked a dream, killed the explorer.exe in the task and then went to the FILE and run a command and entered the explorer.exe command and the desktop appeared! only thing is that the desktop still vanishes when you do a restart..

  26. Great web page I like the way in which ones posts circulation into your layout, appears to be fantastic keep up the wonderful operate on the webpage, My partner and i examine again regularly with regard to revisions Lets hope you might keep the web site shopping superb!

  27. Running windows 8.1

    Nothing was fixing mine. Tried to simply add a new folder to see if it would show and they all came back. No idea why this happened but seems to be resolved.

  28. I have used all the above but it seems to repeat itself. I almost update my win xp for about 4 times a day but destop go blank after installing an application.please what should i do ?

  29. Thanks dear my problem is solved.I was freaking out but I tried solution 4 and everything was fixed…Thank you!
    May God Bless you.

  30. Thank god! This save me!! I was downloading adobe’s software and all the sudden my wallpaper, icons, and the bottom bar line?, were all disappear…. Thank you very much!!!

  31. need help, my computer normally stays on all the time, this morning it showed me srgtw on screen and say ,u where in middle of something and some data is lost. what does that mean?

    1. Al Snyman, Maybe it is updating something. Anyways, keep as it is updating and let us know if face any problem after this. We recommend you please shutdown your computer after 48 hours for at least 15 minutes.

  32. Oh my Gosh, this helped me alot, I was freaking out but I tried solution 4 and everything was fixed…Thank you!

  33. My problem is occasional. Sometimes after signing in just the screensaver will appear without the task bar or any of the icons. Task Manager will not come up so I have to switch off at power switch. On return, everything appears normally.

    A little irritating but is this a sign of problems ahead please?

    Also, let me commend your site – such patience and helpful replies – I have bookmarked you with thanks.

  34. Unfortunately None of the Above worked I Still can’t see Icons, Taskbar, or desktop!. Can’t right click or anything nothing works but only if i put on safemode!

    1. Mike Perez, We suggest you to create a new user profile on your computer. You may create the user profile account in Safemode.

  35. Using solution #2, explorer.exe are not present in “processes” bar. When I type explorer.exe on Create new Task, it says Windows cannot find ‘explorer.exe’. Also I cannot browse it, where it is located? Any other solution? Thank you…waiting for your reply.

    1. Hi Alvin,
      Please double check the spelling of “explorer.exe” because if you did the right spelling and then getting this error message “Windows cannot find ‘explorer.exe’” that means your “explorer.exe” have deleted from this location “c:/windows/system32” by mistake or by due to virus. Anyway, Please check this file is exist or not in that location. Please let us know the status.


  36. My IBM thinkpad T42.
    Got some problem this early Morning.
    My display icons, take bar , menu bar is not showing and also Task manger has been disabled by Administrator.
    Can anyone help me to solve this problem please.

    1. Hi Manu,
      Sure, we will definitely help you in that matter. Could you please tell us. Are you in the administrator’s account of this computer?

  37. Hello..I’d try all sollution but nothing happen. Disktop icons and taskbar are not showing..but a second fter..the screen saver plays..please help me

    1. If you don’t see your taskbar that means your explorer.exe is not running at startup. Try solution 2 again and let me know if doesn’t solve this time.

  38. So,Hey,I had the same problem,here is how it goes for me…
    Solution number one : It says ”Proccesing the C drive…” for like hours.
    Solution number two:When I click OK,it says that ”this file has a virus”
    Solution number three: Nothing happend
    Solution number four:When I press right mouse button nothing happends!
    Hope you can help me !

    1. Sofiha, We’ll give you more steps, please tell me one more thing:
      Can you see your taskbar on desktop?
      Can you see your Icons on desktop?
      Can you see all the Items when you click on start button ?

  39. i have installed new antivirus to my pc and my icons and start menu are not displaying and what is the solution for it

    1. Reboot your computer in safe mode and then uninstall that antivirus, also uninstall all the other antivirus if you installed previously and then reboot your computer once more. now start your computer in normal mode and install any antivirus. It happens because you had installed that antivirus without uninstall of previous one.

  40. crystal pederson

    i cant hardly remember my password n all my icons are gone off my desktop i really need help on my computer i cant do nothing on my computer so would you help me i need help please this is really urgent i am bored so would you help me on my computer sign crystal pederson

    1. Sure, we will help you to solve this issue. We need more info about your issue. So please give me answer of my questions so that we can help you in a right way.
      1. Is “taskbar” appeared in the bottom of the screen ?
      2. Did you tried all above listed methods on this page?
      3. Have you installed any antivirus recently ?

  41. Dear Sir,
    My desktop icons not showing & when i give explorer.exe icons r showing on desktop.But after restart the system again desktop icons r missing ..
    pl give me the permanent solution

  42. when i tried to run explorer.exe it says only a part of readprocessmemory or writeprocessmemory was completed… desktop icons still not showing

  43. I appreciate the help, my icons tend to be removed when I use my mouse key that I configured to “close program” to many times to close multiple windows, and if i click the desktop it basically removes all my desktop icons and i cannot bring up the menu using the right mouse click. your manual instructions worked perfectly, and the program you wrote is now sitting on my desktop 🙂

    only issue i had is when trying to donate some money via paypal, it said something about not being able to receive my donation 🙁 Would like to throw ya a few bucks for your time and help 🙂

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