Troubleshoot: Desktop Icons Missing

Are you wondering why are desktop icons missing? How to recover the missing icon on desktop? This article gathers multiple solutions to help you.


By Lora / Updated on April 2, 2024

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How do I fix my disappeared icons?

The routine of Windows users using their computers: start the computer, enter the password, and then access files, folders, or apps on the desktop.

The Windows desktop is genuinely convenient and handy. It displays apps, documents, shortcuts, etc., for users to access their wanted items. They could arrange all their frequently used app icons on the desktop.

Yet things will be different when users encounter desktop issues. For example, some users noticed that their files are automatically deleted from desktop; some others even find icons missing from desktop, which stops the desktop from running properly as usual.


Desktop Icons missing


On 7/17/22, Windows did an update KB5015807, and I lost my Desktop Icons and some other apps. I have tried the suggested fix discussed online, but they have not fixed the problem.

Please advise what I need to do to get my Windows 10 Desktop running again.


- Question from Microsoft Community


This article aims to address the Windows 10 desktop icons missing issue with several viable solutions. Before that, it is necessary to figure out why icons are missing from the desktop.

Why can't I see my desktop icons?

Desktop icons can get disappeared for many causes.

  • Wrong account. If you restarted your computer and everything is gone, you may have signed into an incorrect account.
  • Human error. You may have mistakenly hidden the icons in settings.
  • Tablet mode. Some desktop computers possess touch capabilities. When Tablet mode is activated, the desktop icons will be reduced for better display performance.
  • Malfunctioned update. The desktop display might get influenced if the recently downloaded update goes wrong. Some users noticed desktop files missing after Windows 10 update.

Move on reading to check the corresponding fixes in the following part.

How to fix the desktop icons missing issue?

This part gathers six methods to help you get back your missing icon on desktop.

Solution 1. Check if you have logged into the correct account

Users might have logged into a temporary account or another user account, especially when users have more than 1 account in use. If so, users could sign out and re-log.

>> Click the Start Menu > Power > click the account icon > Sign out > select the correct account > sign in with your password.


Solution 2. Enable Show desktop icons

The issue of the missing icon on desktop may result from human errors. Users might have mistakenly unchecked the desktop icons showing option, making all icons invisible.

If so, re-check the option; the operation is also straightforward.

>> Go back to your desktop > right-click > View > tick Show desktop icons.


Solution 3. Restart your computer

If the two solutions above are not helpful, rebooting your computer is also worth trying. A restart can solve a majority of computer issues since it ends the hanging programs, cleans the leftover footprint, and helps regain system resources.

Many users will try to restart to repair hard drive errors, system issues, etc.

>> Click the Start menu > Power > Restart > wait for the computer to reboot > see if your icons are back.

Solution 4. Fix desktop icons missing issue in Desktop Icon Settings

Sometimes, users may find the system apps, like Recycle Bin, Control Panel, Network, etc., invisible. Some users complained that they cannot find Recycle Bin icon in windows 10. If so, this method will be suitable for you.

Step 1. Click the Start menu > Settings > Personalization.


Step 2. Themes.


Step 3. Go to Desktop icon settings.


Step 4. Check the icons you need to show, for example, Computers, Recycle Bin, Users’ Files, etc. > click Apply.


Thus you could recover the system icons missing from desktop.

Solution 5. Disable Tablet mode

As mentioned in the last part, tablet mode can also affect the desktop display. Tablet mode is designed to optimize touch performance; thus, the desktop icons will be reduced.

In this way, you may find some icons missing from desktop. Try disabling it and see if your icons are back.

Step 1. Start menu > Settings > System.


Step 2. Click Tablet > choose Never use tablet mode under When I sign in.


Step 3. Or, you could go to Change additional table settings > switch off Tablet mode > turn off Hide app icons on the taskbar or other options.


Solution 6. Uninstall the malfunctioned update

A malfunctioned update can sometimes bring problems from mild to intense. Some users have even reported that the computer won’t start after Windows update.

Users could check if the Windows 10 desktop icons missing issue occurs after updating your device. If so, you could locate the update and uninstall it to get rid of the problem.

Step 1. Start > Settings > Update & Security.


Step 2. Windows Update > View update history.


Step 3. Click Uninstall updates.


Step 4. Find the malfunctioned update you have recently installed > right-click it > Uninstall.


Thus you could safely delete Windows update files.

What to do if your files are missing from desktop?

All these solutions above are used to help you fix the desktop icons missing issue caused by the wrong account, incorrect settings, or faulty update.

But if the files on desktop were deleted manually (whether mistakenly or intentionally), these fixes won’t work. You may have to seek other methods to recover lost or deleted files from Windows 10.

In this case, instead of paying exorbitant bills for in-lab data recovery services, why not choose a professional Windows data recovery app?

MyRecover will be your second–to–none choice. With the help of its unique and efficient features, users can easily scan and perform Windows data recovery from HDD, SSD, USB, SD card, etc.

MyRecover - Recover data in a breeze
  • All-inclusive. Apply to comprehensive data loss situations, e.g., deletion, formatting, viruses, system crashes, etc.
  • User-friendly. Data that has been deleted will be retrieved with the original filename, path, format, etc.
  • High-efficient. 200+ different data kinds, including pictures, office documents, movies, audio files, etc., are recoverable.
  • High-compatible. Available on Windows 11/10/8/7/Server.
Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
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Step 1. Install and run the software > hover the mouse over the C: drive > click Scan.


Step 2. Filters like Date modified, Type, Size, etc., are available to help you find the exact files you need.


Step 3. Go to Deleted files > go to the desktop folder > select the files you need > Recover x files.


This efficient tool can also help you recover permanently deleted Excel files from desktop.

To sum up

The desktop icons missing issue can get addressed well in this article. Many reasons lead to this problem.

All you need to do is to figure out what has caused it and take measures accordingly: sign in to the correct account, check the desktop icons settings, restart, and uninstall faulty update files.

Lora · Editor
Lora is an editor of AOMEI Technology. She is also a tester and editor of AOMEI Data Recovery Tools. -- "Keep testing, write the most useful tutorials for helping people recover the lost data for Windows and phones" is the most meaningful thing for her. Dedicated to creating helpful tutorials, she hopes her tutorial can assist users to effortlessly solve data loss problems on their personal computers and mobile phones.