Fix: Desktop Icons Missing in Windows 10

By: Ivan Jenic
4 minute read

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Although Windows 10 is becoming the most popular Windows operating system on the market, there are still certain minor issues that can occur. Speaking of issues, some users have reported that their icons are missing in Windows 10, so let’s see how to resolve this issue.

According to users, all of their desktop icons are missing when they log in to Windows 10, and if you’re experiencing this issue you might want to check some of our solutions below.

What to do if Desktop Icons are Missing in Windows 10

  1. Turn off tablet mod
  2. Unplug your second display
  3. Make sure Show Desktop icons is enabled
  4. Create a new file on your desktop
  5. Sort icons by name
  6. Send files to Desktop
  7. Enable desktop icons from Settings
  8. Turn off Start full screen
  9. Rebuild icon cache

Solution 1 – Turn off tablet mode

Windows 10 is designed to work with touchscreen devices and touchscreen monitors and it comes with tablet mode that optimizes Windows 10 for touchscreen devices. Apparently using tablet mode can sometimes cause your icons to disappear so let’s see how we can turn off tablet mode.

  1. Open Settings > System and choose Tablet mode from the left.
  2. Now locate the Make Windows more touch-friendly when using your device as a tablet and set it to off. desktop icons missing
  3. Your desktop icons should now appear. If that doesn’t work, try turning on and off Tablet mode a few times.

Solution 2 – Unplug your second display

Using two displays can sometimes cause your desktop icons to disappear but you can fix that by unplugging your second display and plugging it back in.

Solution 3 – Make sure Show Desktop icons is enabled

  1. Right click on the empty area on your desktop.
  2. Choose View and you should see Show Desktop icons desktop icons
  3. Try checking and unchecking Show Desktop icons option a few times but remember to leave this option checked.

Solution 4 – Create a new file on your desktop

  1. Right click on empty space on your desktop.
  2. From the menu choose New and select any type of file you wish to create.
  3. Now your file should appear with your other desktop icons.

Solution 5 – Sort icons by name

This problem can occur if you’re using two monitors, but you can fix that simply by sorting your icons. To sort your icons do the following:

  1. Right click on your desktop and choose Sort by.
  2. Next choose Name. After that your icons should be restored.

sort desktop icons

Solution 6 – Send files to Desktop

  1. Use File Explorer to navigate to Desktop folder. You should see all your files and folders still there.
  2. Right click any of the files and choose Send to > Desktop. After doing that all your icons should be restored.

Solution 7 – Enable desktop icons from Settings

There are a series of icons that you can enable right from the Settings page. Now, if these icons are disabled, obviously, they won’t be visible on the screen.

  1. Go to Settings > Personalization > Themes > select Desktop icon settings
  2. A new window will appear on the screen > to enable a particular icon, simply click on the checkbox

enable desktop icons

Solution 8 – Turn off Start full screen

Some users confirmed that disabling the Start full screen option from the Settings page solved the problem. Although this quick workaround may not work for all users, give it a try. If you’re lucky, it may fix the desktop icon issues that you’re having.

Go to Settings > Personalization > Start > toggle off Use Start full screen

start full screen windows 10

Solution 9 – Rebuild icon cache

  1. Go to Start > type ‘file explorer’ > double click on the first result
  2. In the new File Explorer window, go to View and check Hidden Items in order to display hidden files and folders
  3. Navigate to C:\Users\(User Name)\AppData\Local > scroll all the way downdelete icon cache
  4. Right-click on IconCache.db >  click on Delete > Yes.
  5. Go to Recycle Bin > empty it
  6. Restart your computer.

This solution deletes the IconCache file. When you restart your computer, you may notice that the size of the IconCache.db file is smaller, and the Date Modified is now the current date.

If the IconCache.db file is not available under File Explorer, restart you computer a few times.

If you’re still having issues on your PC or you simply want to avoid them for the future, we recommend you to download this tool (100% safe and tested by us) to fix various PC problems, such as file loss, malware and hardware failure.

That’s about it, I hope this article helped you to get your desktop icons back. If you have any comments, or questions, just reach for the comments below.

If you’ve got additional suggestions on how to fix this issue, feel free to list the steps to follow in the comments section.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2015 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


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