7 Quick Fixes to Desktop Suddenly Empty on Windows 10

Is your desktop suddenly empty after the Windows 10 update? This page explains why Windows desktop icons and files disappear and provides several useful solutions to this issue.


By Kelsey / Updated on April 2, 2024

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Desktop is empty on Windows 10


I updated from Windows 8.1 to 10 (it was simple and smooth). I also deleted some apps and files that are useless. Suddenly I discovered that when I returned to my desktop it was empty. Why is my desktop suddenly empty? How can I get my app icons back?

Windows desktop allows users to store commonly used programs and files for easy access. However, many Windows 10 users report that they sometimes encounter a desktop sudden empty failure. Here, we conclude the possible causes of this problem and show several methods to get back the desktop files and icons.

Why is my desktop empty?

By analyzing a large number of Windows users' cases, we found that the Windows 10 update may be the main reason for the disappearance of icons and files from the desktop. This could be due to system loading errors, the system software update causing files to be hidden, files and programs being accidentally deleted, etc.

If you have also encountered this problem, don't worry. Here are some solutions that can help you fix the “everything disappeared from my desktop on Windows 10” issue.

How to solve desktop suddenly empty on Windows 10

Knowing the possible causes of Windows files and icons disappeared from the desktop, you can try the following solutions one by one to recover lost files from desktop.

Way 1. Unhide desktop icons

In most cases, the desktop disappeared from Windows 10 because you may have accidentally turned off the "Show desktop icons" feature. So, before executing any complicated method, please check if you have enabled the visibility of your desktop icons.

Right-click anywhere blank on the desktop, select View, and check the Show desktop icons option.

Show Desktop Icons

When there is a tick-mark next to the option, it means it is turned on. If this method can’t reappear your desktop icons and files, proceed with the next method.

Way 2. Check desktop icon settings

You can also check the desktop icon settings to help solve the problem of an empty desktop. This is because you may not have set the wanted icons to display. You can refer to the steps below to configure the option.

Step 1. Press the Windows and I keys together to open the Settings Window and click on Personalization.

Step 2. Click Themes > Desktop icons settings. Then, tick the checkboxes of desktop icons that you want to show on the desktop. Then, tap on Apply.

Show Recycle Bin Icon Windows 10

Way 3. Turn off the Tablet mode

Tablet mode is offered on Windows 10 to help users optimize the appearance and behavior of apps and the Windows shells. However, enabling Tablet mode may cause your desktop or icons to disappear.

If you have turned on Tablet mode on your PC, please follow the guide below to disable it to resolve the desktop icons disappeared from Windows 10 problem.

Step 1. Open the Windows Settings app by pressing Windows + I keys and tapping System.

Step 2. Choose the Tablet mode tab on the left-side panel, and then, pick Use desktop mode in the dropdown menu of When I sign in.

Use Desktop Mode

Step 3. Reboot your computer and see if your desktop icons and files are back.

Way 4. Restart the desktop process

The Windows desktop is often handled by File Explorer (also called Windows Explorer). In other words, the File Explorer process controls the display of icons on the desktop. According to some user feedback, restarting File Explorer can be workable to fix the desktop icons disappeared from Windows 10 after reboot issue.

How to restart the File Explorer process to fix this issue is shown as follows:

Step 1. Click on Ctrl + Shift + Esc to start Task Manager.

Step 2. Under the Process section, find Windows Explorer, and right-click on it to select End task.

End Task Windows Explorer

Step 3. Then, tap on the File button at the top left of Task Manager. Click Run new task, and then, input “explorer.exe” in the box and press Enter to relaunch Windows Explorer.

Type Explorer Exe

Way 5. Use the System File Checker tool

Sometimes, Windows 10 system updates may result in the File System being corrupted, affecting the correct display of desktop icons and files. If so, a utility in Windows, System File Checker, can work you out. With this tool, you can scan your Windows system for corrupted files and repair them.

Below are the detailed steps to guide how to run this tool to resolve Windows 10 desktop files gone, as well as icons.

Step 1. Use Windows + S keys to open the search bar. Search for “cmd” and choose Run as administrator.

Step 2. Type the "sfc /scannow" command in the Command Prompt window and press Enter.

Type Sfc Scannow

Step 3. Wait for the scanning to finish. After the scanning is finished, restart the computer and check if this solves the desktop suddenly empty issue.

Way 6. Rollback the Windows update

Another solution to an empty desktop after the Windows 10 update is to roll back to the version of Windows software before the update.

You can head to Windows Settings > Click Update & Security > Select Recovery >Tap Get started under Go back to the previous version of Windows 10 to solve the Windows 10 desktop icons missing after update issue.

Go Back To The Previous Version Get Started

This option is only available for users who have updated to Windows 10 for less than 10 days. If you have been updated to Windows 10 for more than 10 days, there would be no Go back to the previous version section.


Way 7. The easiest way to recover all lost desktop files on Windows

If none of the above methods can make the Windows desktop files and icons reappear, they may have been deleted. Given that, a powerful data recovery tool can help you.

MyRecover is a reliable data recovery software that can effectively restore lost desktop and computer files due to Windows updates or various other reasons. This tool can quickly recover lost files, Excel sheets, photos, videos, web pages, and hundreds of other types of data.

In addition, it also supports USB flash drive data recovery, hard disk data recovery, SD card data recovery, external hard disk data recovery, and so on. Now, let's use this utility to retrieve your lost files from the desktop.

Step 1. Install and launch MyRecover. Hover the mouse over the drive and click Scan to scan.

Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

Select Partition To Scan

Step 2. This tool will scan all lost files on this partition deeply and quickly.

Scan Lost Data

Step 3. Select the wanted files for recovery and click Recover x files.

Recover Lost Data


This guide covers all possible solutions to the desktop suddenly empty. Now you can try each of them to solve your problem.

Kelsey · Editor
Kelsey is an English editor of AOMEI Technology. She is passionate about helping people find effective ways to deal with all problems in computer. She has great insights into data backup and recovery, disk partition and clone, and other data protection measures. She likes learn computer skills to improve herself and enjoy quality time with family and friends.