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How to Restore the Real Internet Explorer Desktop Icon in Windows 7

Remember how previous versions of Windows had an Internet Explorer icon on the desktop, and you could right-click it to quickly access the Internet Options screen? It’s completely gone in Windows 7, but a geeky hack can bring it back.

Microsoft removed this feature to comply with all those murky legal battles they’ve had, and their alternate suggestion is to create a standard shortcut to iexplore.exe on the Desktop, but it’s not the same thing. We’ve got a registry hack to bring it back.

This guest article was written by Ramesh from the WinHelpOnline blog, where he’s got loads of really geeky registry hacks.

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Bring Back the Internet Explorer Namespace Icon in Windows 7 the Easy Way

If you just want the IE icon back, all you need to do is download the RealInternetExplorerIcon.zip file, extract the contents, and then double-click on the w7_ie_icon_restore.reg file. That’s all you have to do.

There’s also an undo registry file there if you want to get rid of it.

Download the Real Internet Explorer Icon Registry Hack

Manual Registry Hack

If you prefer doing things the manual way, or just really want to understand how this hack works, you can follow through the manual steps below to learn how it was done, but we’ll have to warn you that it’s a lot of steps.

Launch Regedit.exe using the Start Menu search box, and then navigate to the following location:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT \ CLSID \ {871C5380-42A0-1069-A2EA-08002B30309D}

Right-click on the key on the left-hand pane, choose Export, and save it to a .REG file (say, ie-guid.reg)

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Open up the REG file using Notepad…

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From the Edit menu, click Replace, and replace every occurrence of the following GUID string

{871C5380-42A0-1069-A2EA-08002B30309D}

… with a custom GUID string, such as:

{871C5380-42A0-1069-A2EA-08002B30301D}

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Save the REG file and close Notepad, and then double-click on the file to merge the contents to the registry. Either re-open the registry editor, or use the F5 key to reload everything with the new changes (this step is important).

Now you can navigate downto the following registry key:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT \ CLSID \ {871C5380-42A0-1069-A2EA-08002B30301D} \ Shellex \ ContextMenuHandlers \ ieframe

Double-click on the (default) key in the right-hand pane and set its data as:

{871C5380-42A0-1069-A2EA-08002B30309D}

With this done, press F5 on the desktop and you’ll see the Internet Explorer icon that looks like this:

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The icon appears incomplete without the Properties command in right click menu, so keep reading.

Final Registry Hack Adjustments

Click on the following key, which should still be viewable in your Registry editor window from the last step.

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{871C5380-42A0-1069-A2EA-08002B30301D}

Double-click LocalizedString in the right-hand pane and type the following data to rename the icon.

Internet Explorer

Select the following key:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{871C5380-42A0-1069-A2EA-08002B30301D}\shell

Add a subkey and name it as Properties, then select the Properties key, double-click the (default) value and type the following:

P&roperties

Create a String value named Position, and type the following data

bottom

At this point the window should look something like this:

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Under Properties, create a subkey and name it as Command, and then set its (default) value as follows:

control.exe inetcpl.cpl

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Navigate down to the following key, and then delete the value named LegacyDisable

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT \ CLSID \ {871C5380-42A0-1069-A2EA-08002B30301D} \ shell \ OpenHomePage

Now head to the this key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ Desktop \ NameSpace

Create a subkey named {871C5380-42A0-1069-A2EA-08002B30301D} (which is the custom GUID that we used earlier in this article.)

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Press F5 to refresh the Desktop, and here is how the Internet Explorer icon would look like, finally.

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That’s it! It only took 24 steps, but you made it through to the end—of course, you could just download the registry hack and get the icon back with a double-click.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 04/21/10

Comments (21)

  1. Kevin

    I would not go through all this to put my favorite app on the desktop, let alone Internet Explorer which I do not use anyway.

  2. Richard

    This is obviously too much of a hassle to restore Internet Explorer Icon.

  3. piaqt

    Cool! And if Firefox is the default browser …?

  4. Jake

    So what about vista and other browsers?

  5. hartford3

    Jeezooie. Just right click on IE and pin to task bar if you want it there. Drag it over to the ball. Looks origional.

  6. Kash

    WoW, i haven’t gone through it but that looks really tyring and convoluted. Congrats to whoever was intelligent enough to figure it out :)

  7. Jared Pickerell

    Great job! I knew there had to be a way to get our trusty blue E back on the desktop with full functionality! Your registry entry will most defiantly go in IT my tool set.

  8. maynard long

    Was very happy with a functional IE 8 icon back on desktop – BUT on my 64 bit Windows 7 the icon now opens IE 8 64 bit version which is not good! Can fix to open the 32 bit version of IE 8?

  9. BadPrankster

    Open “w7-ie_icon_restore.reg” with notepad and replace:
    “Program Files”
    with
    “Program Files (x86)”
    Save it and double-click on that thing again!

  10. Tom

    Hi great job but if I click on the icon I get the message:
    “Windows cannot access the specified device, path, or file” and this for Explorer.exe.
    If I right click on the icon and click on Start without add-ons it works like a charm.

    Any idea?

  11. Todd

    Great fix. But this article does not indicate whether the fix applies to the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows 7 (or both? — seems like there would be a difference; the registries are not identical). And as ‘maynard long’ and ‘BadPrankster’ note, the article should specify whether the zipped .reg fix (and steps listed above) will start the 32-bit or 64-bit version of IE by default on a 64-bit system (assuming this article applies to 64-bit systems).

  12. Sanjay

    Just done it on 64-bit Win 7 and it works perfectly fine. Doesn’t take long at all, don’t see why people are saying this requires so much “effort”. As for it opening the 32-bit or 64-bit version of IE, I’m not completely sure.

  13. Diendlen

    I like this very much!! Ramesh you’re a legend, truth.

  14. Georgy

    Thanks allot !!! Works like a charme on win7. 32bit !!!

  15. Lee C.

    The perfect solution to another problem caused by government. They’re invading my Desktop–sheesh.

  16. Mike

    Works great, thanks so much!

  17. Gwendolyn

    Praise God! I thought I was going crazy reading everybody else’s help pages that were NOT helpful! Thanks!

  18. Gator

    it works. on 32 and 64 bit great job.

  19. Simon

    Works great for me – ageing Thinkpad with Win7 32 bit. Now I’ve got the full properties from my desktop. Thanks!

  20. Karim

    I tried it manually and it didn’t work , and restored everything. Then I downloaded this file and it didn’t make any difference ?

  21. nhb

    Works like a charm.
    Thanks a lot for the reg script.

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