Fix Desktop Icons Missing or Disappeared in Windows



There could be a problem with your icon settings or the core Windows system if your Windows 10 desktop icons are missing. Problems like this are tough to solve since they often have no obvious cause.

However, there are a few basic remedies for the missing desktop icons that you can try to potentially remedy the issue on your computer.

If you’d rather watch a video, we’ve included a YouTube instructional below that walks you through a few of the possibilities. If none of those work, make sure you read the rest of the post for more steps and answers.

Make sure the desktop icons aren’t turned off.

Before you try any of the other techniques, make sure that the option that displays your desktop icons is turned on. Your Windows 10 desktop icons have vanished since you or someone else turned off the feature for whatever reason. You can, however, bring them all back with only a few clicks.

  1. Right-click anyplace on your desktop that is blank and choose View, then Show desktop icons.
  2. Make that the option has a checkmark next to it, indicating that it is switched on.

Reconfigure the settings of your desktop icons

You should also double-check your desktop icon settings to make sure the ones you want are selected and enabled. It’s possible that customising your icon settings caused your icons to vanish from your desktop.

  1. To resolve the problem, go to Settings and configure the parameters there.
  2. Right-click anywhere on your desktop that is blank and choose Personalize.
  3. Choose Themes from the left-hand sidebar of your screen.
  4. On the right-hand side pane, you’ll find a setting for Desktop icon settings. To access the settings menu, click on it.
  5. The icons you want to see on your desktop can be selected and deselected on the next screen. Make your decision and then click Apply, then OK.

Restart Windows Explorer.

The explorer.exe process that runs on your computer is responsible for your desktop icons. If there’s a problem with the process, you can notice that your Windows 10 desktop icons are missing or vanishing.

The good news is that you may quickly resolve the problem by restarting the process on your computer.

  1. On your keyboard, simultaneously press the Ctrl, Alt, and Delete keys.
  2. Choose Task Manager from the list of options on your screen.
  3. If you haven’t already, go to the Processes tab.
  4. Locate the Windows Explorer process, right-click it, and select End Task.

Select Run new task from the File menu at the top

In the window on your screen, type explorer.exe and hit Enter. It will relaunch Windows Explorer on your behalf.



Toggle the Tablet Mode on and off Tablet mode in Windows Settings modifies how icons and other items show on your system, and it’s worth trying toggling it to see if it helps with the Windows 10 desktop icons missing issue.

  1. Using your machine’s Cortana search, open the Settings app.
  2. When the app first runs, select System.
  3. From your screen’s left sidebar, select Tablet mode.
  4. When I sign in, choose Tablet mode from the dropdown option.
  5. Select the power symbol from the Start Menu and choose Restart.
  6. Go to Settings and turn off tablet mode when your computer restarts. After that, restart your computer.

Scan Your System for Corrupt Files and Repair Them

Corrupt files are frequently the cause of your computer’s inability to perform certain operations. Your files may get corrupted for a variety of reasons, but you may easily repair them using a built-in utility.

The Windows operating system has a program that allows you to look for and repair faulty files on your computer.

Press Windows + R at the same moment, then type cmd and press Enter.

Press Enter after typing the following command into the CMD window.

sfc /scannow sfc /scannow sfc /s

Wait for it to scan your computer for corrupt files and fix them.

Toggle the Full-Screen Start Menu option.

Because there’s no obvious explanation why your Windows 10 desktop icons are missing, you can try enabling and disabling user interface choices to see if it fixes the problem.

  1. Toggling the full-screen option for your Windows Start Menu is one of the options.
  2. Personalize by right-clicking anyplace on your desktop that is blank.
  3. In the left sidebar of your screen, select the Start option.
  4. Find the Use Start full screen option on the right-hand side pane and turn it on.
  5. Return the setting to OFF and see if the problem has been rectified.

Your Computer’s Icon Cache Should Be Rebuilt

The icon cache file is used by your computer to show icons on your desktop. It’s possible that if there’s a problem with this file, your desktop icons will vanish. Fortunately, you can rebuild this cache file on your computer by following a few simple steps.

  1. Open File Explorer by searching for it in the Start Menu.
  2. Make sure the Hidden objects option is turned on in the View tab at the top.
  3. Follow the arrows to the next path.
  4. C:\Users\<your-username>\
  5. AppData\Local
  6. Locate the IconCache.db file, right-click it, and select Delete.

Make sure your Recycle Bin is also empty.

Restarting your computer should result in the creation of a new cache file for your icons.
To go back to a previous restore point, click the “Back to a Previous Restore Point” button.
If the problem started after you installed software or changed your computer’s configuration, you can fix it by restoring your machine to a previous state. It will restore your settings to the state they were in when the icons displayed correctly on your desktop.



  1. Open Control Panel and select Recovery from the drop-down menu.
  2. On the next screen, select Open System Restore.
  3. On the first screen, select Next.
  4. Select the system point to which you wish to restore your computer and then click Next at the bottom.

Restart the computer

Finally, if nothing else works, try resetting your PC to factory settings to see if it fixes the problem. It’s most likely going to fix it because that’s what it’s designed for.

  1. On your PC, open the Settings app.
  2. Select Update & Security from the drop-down menu.
  3. From the left sidebar, select Recovery.
  4. Under the Reset this PC section, click Get started.

Your Windows 10 desktop icons can be missing for a variety of reasons, but you can always attempt some of the typical remedies to see if they help restore your icons.

If the preceding technique was helpful in resolving the desktop icons gone issue on your PC, please share your solution in the comments section below so that others can benefit from it.

Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.