Windows 7 Desktop Icons Disappeared

Have your Windows 7 desktop icons disappeared? Are you Windows 7 desktop icons missing? If so, there are two common issues impacting this. I'll help you work through them in this post.

First, many people wonder what happened to the good old Windows XP icons like Internet Explorer, My Computer, My Network Places and My Documents. These icons, or their Windows 7 counterparts, are still available. In most default installations, Windows 7 only includes the Recycle Bin on the desktop. All other icons are removed.

You can get back any of the following Windows 7 desktop icons that may be missing from your display:

  • Computer: This icon opens an Explorer window with all of your drives listed for navigation through the available storage.
  • User's Files: This icon, which will have the user's name listed as the descriptive text, opens an Explorer windows with the user's documents location open by default.
  • Network: This icon allows you to browse the network.
  • Control Panel: This icon allows you to place the Control Panel on the desktop as a direct shortcut.
  • Recycle Bin: This icon allows you to manage the Recycle Bin from your desktop.


To get most of them back, follow these instructions:

  1. Right-click on the desktop and select Personalize.
  2. Select Change desktop icons from the left pane.
  3. On the Desktop Icon Settings tab, select the icons you want to display on the desktop.
  4. Click OK to save your changes.


The preceding steps will help you place Computer, User's Files, Control Panel, Network or Recycle Bin on the desktop. To get Internet Explorer back on the desktop, you'll need to create a shortcut. The simplest way to do this is to follow these instructions:

  1. Click the Start menu.
  2. Open All Programs.
  3. Right-click-and-drag the Internet Explorer icon to the desktop.
  4. When you release, select Create shortcuts here from the menu.


In addition to these tips, Windows 7 seems to have a bug that causes two things. First, the icons may end up overlapping each other. Second, icons may seem to completely disappear from the desktop. Sadly, there is no direct patch for this at this time, but here are a few things you can try when your Windows 7 desktop icons have disappeared.

  • If they are overlapping, which will be evidenced by the fact that you do not see the icon anywhere on the screen, but some icons seem to look corrupted, simply right-click on the desktop and select View > Auto arrange icons. Then, right-click again and deselect the option. You will have to go through all of your icons again placing them where you desire, but this will cause them to be displayed on screen again.
  • If they are simply missing, first, try rebooting. This often gets the icons back. Second, manually look in your profile to ensure that the icons is in the C:Users{UserName} folder, which is the default locations for user profiles. In this folder, should be another folder named Desktop, which should contain the icons. If the icons are not in this folder, they are completely lost.
  • If the Windows 7 desktop icons have disappeared because they have been rearranged by the operating system, pray that they will stop. I wish I had a better answer for you and if I come across one I'll let you know. For now there seems to be no fix for this annoying bug other than to align the icons to a grid, reboot, and remove the alignment.


Hopefully, one of these tips either solves your problem or gets you moving in the right directions when your Windows 7 desktop icons are missing or disappeared. Good luck!

6 thoughts on “Windows 7 Desktop Icons Disappeared”

  1. had this problem on windows 7 and windows 8 lost them when doing something else to fix I just right clicked my desktop anywhere on the screen and under View or Sort as you will find Show Desktop Icons click it and its fixed.

  2. My Windows 7 desktop icons disappeared for no apparent reason. Rebooting the computer did not help. David’s solution above worked. Thanks

    1. Had a similar problem with Windows 7.
      Missing shortcuts were showing under %UserProfile%Desktop but not on the desktop.
      Right clicking on desktop and selecting Auto Arrange from view menu fixed the problem.

  3. I have dual monitors and lots of icons and folders on my desktop. I was missing three recently added shortcuts and one newly created folder. All were present on the C drive under desktop, but they would not show up.

    I right-clicked and under View selected Large icons. then went back and selected Medium icons. This lead to some icons being presnt on one monitor screen, and some being present on another screen. I got back 2 shortcuts and the one folder. Then I deleted a few uneccesary icons and repeated the process, and the third shortcut reappeared.

  4. I had similar problem and after looking here and there I realized that I unchecked “show desktop icons” so do check yours. Right click on the empty desktop backgroung, point to view and see if its unchecked.

  5. I lost all desktop icons when I plugged my samsung into my computer. In addition the drive letter of an external drive changed. I tried everything– nothing worked until I manually changed the external drive letter back to what it was originally. Everything instantly came back.

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