How to restore missing desktop icons in Windows

You’ve lost your Windows desktop icons and you want them back. Here’s how to do it.

windows 10 working
Credit: Adam Patrick Murray

A reader asks: 

“How do I get my desktop icons back on Windows? My nephew was playing around with my laptop, and now my desktop is blank except for the start button on the lower right. I’m sure I’ll smack my forehead when I learn how to fix this, but does anyone have an idea what he did and how to restore my desktop icons?”

You might think that your desktop icons have been lost forever, but don’t worry—they still exist! There are a couple of ways that you should be able to fix this, depending on which version of Windows you’re running.

  • Start with a right-click on your icon-free desktop
  • Check the option for Display Icons.

If you don’t see Display Icons listed:

  • Right click the desktop
  • Select View > Show Desktop Icon, and make sure the option is checked.

If neither of these options work, Microsoft Support has some extra tips. 

For more Windows tips:

This tip was originally published on IDG Answers, a reader-powered help desk for answering tech questions. 

To comment on this article and other PCWorld content, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.