The 8 Best Ways to Fix Desktop Icons Disappearing in Windows 10 and Windows 11

Windows is full of wonders and failures. Sometimes the taskbar disappears, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or audio does not work, and even desktop icons randomly disappear. The latter is confusing as you might want to easily operate files, folders, and apps from your PC desktop. There are a few fixes you can try to fix this problem on Windows 10 and Windows 11.



Fix icons disappearing from Windows 10

The screenshots in the article refer to the Windows 11 operating system. Rest assured, you can follow the same steps for Windows 10 and bring back the missing desktop icons.

1. Activate Show desktop icons

Before going ahead with advanced solutions to fix icons disappearing from desktop in Windows problems, make sure that the setting is enabled in the View menu. Follow the steps below.

Step 1: Right click on any open space on the desktop.

2nd step: Click on Show.



Show desktop icons

Step 3: Activate the Show desktop icons option in the context menu.

2. Check the desktop icon settings

Windows offers handy desktop icon settings to let you turn on / off shortcuts for computer, user files, network, control panel, and recycle bin. Here’s how to access and activate these icons on your desktop.

Step 1: Right click on the desktop and go to Personalize.

2nd step: This will open the Themes menu in Windows settings.



Open the personalization menu

Step 3: Scroll down and select Desktop icon settings.



Desktop icon settings

Step 4: Enable desktop icons for computer, user files, network, recycle bin, and control panel. Press Apply and click OK.



Desktop icon settings menu

You will soon see these icons appear on the desktop. In the same menu, you can also change the appearance of the icons.

3. Try tablet mode

Tablet mode changes the way desktop icons appear on Windows 10. You can enable tablet mode from the settings and check whether the change can solve the problem or not.

Microsoft has removed Tablet mode from the Windows 11 operating system. This trick only works on Windows 10.

Step 1: Open the Settings app on Windows 10.

2nd step: Click on the System option and select Tablet mode.



Open system menu

Step 3: To select Using tablet mode of When I log into the menu.



Using tablet mode

Restart the Windows laptop and check whether the icons appear on the desktop or not.

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4. Relaunch Windows Explorer

Windows desktop icons are part of the explorer.exe process on your computer. You can complete the task completely and then run it again to fix the icons that disappear from the desktop problem in Windows 10/11. Here is what you need to do.

Step 1: Press the Windows key and open Task Manager.

2nd step: Click Windows Explorer and select Restart at the bottom.



Restart the Windows Explorer menu

The operating system will restart the process and allow you to see icons appear on the desktop now. Otherwise, go to the next troubleshooting solution.

5. Scan and repair corrupt files on Windows

Microsoft has integrated a command line into the Windows operating system that allows you to find and repair corrupt files on your PC. For example, if you are downloading files from unknown sources on the web, you may need to run the command to recover the icons that are missing from the desktop.

Step 1: Press Windows + R keys and open the Run menu.

2nd step: Type cmd and press the OK button.



Open the run command

Step 3: Type sfc / scannow in the command prompt window and press Enter.



Windows command

Let Windows run the command and fix the corrupted files for you.

6. Update the graphics driver

Corrupt graphics drivers in Windows 10 or Windows 11 can cause icon disappearance issue. Here’s how you can update them manually from the Device Manager menu.

Step 1: Press the Windows key and type Device Manager in it.

2nd step: Open Device Manager and find your PC’s graphics drivers.



Device Manager Menu

Step 3: Right click on it and select Update Driver from the context menu.



Update graphics drivers

Restart your computer and see the results.

7. Reset the PC

If your Windows 10/11 computer is working, you can try the factory reset tool on the PC. Do not worry. It will not delete any files. Here is how to use it. In Windows 11, open the Settings app and in the System section click on the Recovery option on the right side.

From there, select the Reset button. Use the option to keep the files and start the process.



Reset Windows PC

For Windows 10 users, open the Settings app. In the Update & Security section, select the Recovery menu and choose the option to reset without losing your files.

8. Update the Windows operating system

Icons that disappear from Windows computers may be due to an outdated Windows version on your PC. After all, not everyone wants to update their perfectly functioning PC with new updates to deal with certain issues.

But occasionally, you should check and install the latest operating system updates on your PC. Especially now, because Windows 11 has a lot of benefits like a new redesign, a Start menu, focus sessions, widgets, etc.



Update the Windows operating system

Recover your desktop icons

Some users like to keep their desktops clean, while others contain it with dozens of apps and folders. If you are in the latter group, you may be frustrated with the issue of disappearing icons. However, the above methods should fix the problem for you.

Last updated Sep 25, 2021


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Steven L. Nielsen

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