How to fix missing Desktop icons on Windows 10?

by Ugnius Kiguolis - -

Question

Issue: How to fix missing Desktop icons on Windows 10?

Having an odd problem which I do not know how to fix. For some reason, all Windows 10 icons disappeared (except for Windows Store and Microsoft Edge). Are there any tips you could provide in order to help me fix missing icons issue?

Solved Answer

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.

While many (programming) changes were made to the Graphical User Interface (GUI)[1] and many bugs were fixed with new patches, some problems still remain the same. One such major issues arise when Windows 10 desktop icons disappear, and they are unable to navigate to their desired programs or documents quickly.

This 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 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.

Fix missing desktop icons on Windows 10

According to PC users who have experienced no icons bug,[2] this has happened after the installation of updates or other system modifications. In this case, you should try to reset the icon cache.[3] We’ll explain how this can be done in the next paragraph. However, there are multiple other triggers that could have contributed to the Desktop icons dissipated in the Windows issue.

If you want to fix missing desktop icons on Windows 10, you should follow the steps below carefully. Nevertheless, we also highly advise you to employ a repair tool Reimage, which can help you fix various Windows-related issues automatically.

Fix 1. Check the icon visibility

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

When troubleshooting issues like missing desktop icons, you should start from very basics. One of the simplest fixes involves a check to ensure that Windows icons are set to be visible:

  • Right-click on desktop (it does not matte where, as long as it is a blank space)
  • Hover your mouse pointer on View
  • Ensure that Show desktop icons option is tickedCheck if icons are enabled

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

Fix 2. Run Search and Indexing troubleshooter

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

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:

  • Right-click on Start button and select Settings
  • Go to Update & Security section
  • On the left side, select Troubleshoot
  • Scroll down and click on Search and Indexing
  • Select Run the troubleshooterRun search and indexing troubleshooter

Fix 3. Disable Tablet mode

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Windows 10 has two different working environments that can be used by users – Desktop and Tablet. In some cases, the latter can be turned on by accident, resulting in missing Windows icons issue.

  • Click on the notification prompt at the bottom-right of your screen
  • In the bottom section of the new window, you will see many options
  • Click on Tablet mode to ensure that the mode is disabledDisable tablet mode

Fix 4. Rebuild icon cache

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This method helped many users to fix missing Windows icons. To perform this, you will have to access Command Prompt with administrative privileges:

  • Type in cmd into Windows Search
  • 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)
  • 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

  • Close down Command PromptRebuild icon cache
  • Right-click on Desktop and select Refresh

Fix 5. Run SFC scan

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

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

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

    sfc /scannow

  • Wait till Windows detect related issues and fixes them automaticallyRun SFC scan

Fix 6. Use System Restore point

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

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.

  • Press Win + R simultaneously
  • Type in rstrui.exe and press Enter
  • Click Next
  • Select a restore point with a know good system configurationUse System Restore point
  • Click Next and press Finish

Repair your Errors automatically

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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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