How to fix Desktop icons are missing on Windows 10?

Issue: Hello, something happened to my desktop icons – they simply vanished. I assume that I might have clicked something wrong, or maybe there is something else that caused this? Could you please tell me what is the reason for hit deadly irritating issue and how to fix it? Many thanks!!

Solved Answer

Desktop icons are missing on Windows 10 is one of many issues on the latest version of the operating system. When Windows 10 came out, it caused a lot of dissatisfaction due to bugs and stability issues.[1] Most of the OS update issues were fixed with further Windows updates released in 2018. However, this particular issue with the Start Menu creates frustration among many users[2] up until recently even.

Windows 10 July 2021 update included fixes for serious flaws like PrintNightmware and other security vulnerabilities,[3] but the issue with desktop icons deleted after the upgrade remains to bother people. The build update creates many processes to backup files and makes sure to add all needed pieces don't the machine. Sometimes missing pieces can create issues and temporary files like the ones on the desktop end up deleted, so users tend to panic.[4]

There is no need to do so. Windows updates have this bug when the user profile is set aside and restored only after the upgrade. You are asked to login but the profile is temp and those files look missing. You should restart at least 3 times until the profile is fully restored, so the PC can launch all the proper functions and features. This should be a quick fix for the bug. Otherwise, follow the guide further to fix other possible problems.

Windows icons are often an important part of many users' daily computer usage routine. Shortcuts allow them to access the desired application or a document with just a click of a mouse, without having to dig inside various folders on the system. Essentially, these tiny desktop helpers did not change much since the very beginning of Windows development – or at least it may seem so for most users.

The desktop icons are missing issue can be extremely frustrating to many users, as it takes so much longer for them to find files/apps via File Explorer or other navigation apps. Nevertheless, there are several different methods that can help users fix missing Desktop icons on Windows 10, most of which are not difficult to execute.

The start menu was changed because of the user complaints and requests, but this error with Desktop icons missing on Windows 10 is pretty annoying and can appear due to a few different reasons. Firstly, when users have many icons on the sudden desktop, change is not pleasant.

The primary reason for this issue on the device is modified settings, Desktop and Tablet mode settings, for example. People tend to blame operating system bugs from the start too. Fortunately, due to the bug fixes in Windows, the issue when Desktop icons are missing on Windows 10 can be fixed.

Fix missing desktop iconsFix missing desktop icons

Windows 10 is a great OS, which has been developed with respect to Windows OS users and their preferences, as well we taking into account the best and the worst features of previous Windows versions. Consequently, Windows enthusiasts must have noticed how many Windows 8 errors and inconveniences have been fixed. Yet, issues like Desktop icons are missing on Windows 10 prevail.

On top of that, those who were complaining about Windows design or Graphic User Interface (GUI) and Start menu were presented with the major changes. Unfortunately, but some of the changes have been treated as bugs by some of the users. Missing desktop icons is one of them.

Methods to fix missing Desktop icons on Windows 10

The problem of missing desktop icons is not universal – sometimes, users see the underlying names of apps or files without icons, while in other cases, all the shortcuts are invisible completely. Some reported the desktop wallpaper removal following the missing icons issue.

While in some of the cases missing desktop icons may be caused by virus infection[5], in most of the cases it happens due to incorrect settings, accidentally hidden, or the wrong mode. Although most of the cases happen due to the accidentally set Tablet mode instead of Desktop mode, there are some other causes. Luckily, this “bug” may be fixed quite easily, but you should check the system first using the PC repair tool FortectMac Washing Machine X9 – it might also fix the missing desktop icons issue automatically for you as well.

1. Restart File Explorer

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To repair damaged system, you have to purchase the licensed version of Fortect.

File Explorer is an integral part of any Windows 10 operating system. If you have issues with interface or such as icons went missing, you should restart the process as follows:

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open the Task manager
  2. Scroll down to locate Windows Explorer
  3. Right-click on the entry, and select Restart Restart File ExplorerRestart File Explorer
  4. Your desktop will blink and the process will be restarted for you

2. Run Search and Indexing troubleshooter

Built-in troubleshooters are great solutions that can help you fix various Windows issues. If anything, it can at least pinpoint in the right direction. Thus, run the Search and Indexing troubleshooter as follows:

  1. Right-click on Start button and select Settings
  2. Go to Update & Security section
  3. On the left side, select Troubleshoot
  4. Scroll down and click on Search and Indexing
  5. Select Run the troubleshooter Run Search and Indexing TroubleshooterRun Search and Indexing Troubleshooter

3. Recover files from the .old folder

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To repair damaged system, you have to purchase the licensed version of Fortect.
  • Press the Windows key + E hotkey to open File Explorer.
  • Users can open the Windows.old folder at this path
    This PC\\C:\\Windows.old
  • Open the User subfolder in the Windows.old folder.
  • Open a user account subfolder.
  • Then recover deleted files from their user account.
  • Select a file and then press the Copy to button to open the drop-down menu below.
  • Select another folder to copy the files to.

4. Rebuild icon cache

  1. Type in cmd into Windows Search
  2. Right-click on Command Prompt result and select Run as administrator (note: in case Windows search is not working for you as well, tap Win + R on your keyboard, enter cmd.exe and then hit Ctrl+Shift+Enter)
  3. As soon as the new window opens, type in these commands, pressing Enter after each:

    taskkill /F /IM explorer.exe
    cd /d %userprofile%\\AppData\\Local
    attrib –h IconCache.db
    del IconCache.db
    start explorer.exe

  4. Close down Command Prompt Rebuild icon cacheRebuild icon cache

5. Check the visibility of desktop icons

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To repair damaged system, you have to purchase the licensed version of Fortect.

In case you have accidentally hidden desktop icons, you should follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on desktop (it does not matter where, as long as it is a blank space)
  2. Hover your mouse pointer on View
  3. Ensure that Show desktop icons option is ticked Check Icon visibilityCheck Icon visibility

Additionally, some users reported that selecting Auto arrange icons option helped them to fix missing icons issue.

6. Turn off Tablet Mode

As we have already pointed out, missing desktop icons may be the result of incorrectly set Mode. Therefore, the last thing that you should try is to disable Tablet Mode and switch to Desktop mode. This can be done by following these steps:

  1. Click on the notification prompt at the bottom-right of your screen
  2. In the bottom section of the new window, you will see many options
  3. Click on Tablet mode to ensure that the mode is disabled Turn off tablet modeTurn off tablet mode

7. Run SFC scan

Fix it now!
To repair damaged system, you have to purchase the licensed version of Fortect.

Corrupted Windows system files may cause various malfunctions. To fix this, run a System File Checker via Command Prompt:

  1. Access Command Prompt as explained in the previous fix
  2. Type in the following command and press Enter:

    sfc /scannow

  3. Wait till Windows detect related issues and fixes them automatically Run SFC scanRun SFC scan

8. Use System Restore point

If none of the above solutions helped you fix the missing desktop icons issue, you could try using System Restore function to return your computer configuration to a point when your icons were still working fine. Note that this will not affect your personal files, although programs and updates installed after the restore point you are going back to will be removed.

  1. Press Win + R simultaneously
  2. Type in rstrui.exe and press Enter
  3. Click Next
  4. Select a restore point with a know good system configuration
  5. Click Next and press Finish Use System Restore pointUse System Restore point

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If you failed to fix your error using Fortect, reach our support team for help. Please, let us know all details that you think we should know about your problem.
Fortect - a patented specialized Windows repair program. It will diagnose your damaged PC. It will scan all System Files, DLLs and Registry Keys that have been damaged by security threats.
This patented repair process uses a database of 25 million components that can replace any damaged or missing file on user's computer.
To repair damaged system, you have to purchase the licensed version of Fortect malware removal tool.

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About the author
Ugnius Kiguolis
Ugnius Kiguolis - The problem solver

Ugnius Kiguolis is the founder and editor-in-chief of UGetFix. He is a professional security specialist and malware analyst who has been working in IT industry for over 20 years.

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