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How to Hide or Unhide All Desktop Icons on Windows

A Windows 10 desktop with no desktop icons

If you like a clean desktop, Windows can be a little obnoxious. Many programs you install will automatically add their own desktop icon, so you’ll be constantly deleting them. Skip the hassle and hide all your desktop icons instead.

If you’re using a PC with an empty desktop, this option will also let you re-enable all those hidden icons.

To hide or unhide all your desktop icons, right-click on your desktop, point to “View,” and click “Show Desktop Icons.” This option works on Windows 10, 8, 7, and even XP. This option toggles desktop icons on and off.

Hiding or showing all desktop icons on Windows

That’s it! This option is easy to find and use—if you know it’s there.

RELATED: How To Organize Your Messy Windows Desktop (And Keep It That Way)

Windows also lets you hide its built-in desktop icons, like “This PC,” “Network,” and “Recycle Bin.” If those are still missing—or if you’d like to hide those icons but not the rest of your desktop icons—you’ll need to control which desktop icons appear in the Settings app or Control Panel.

The Windows Desktop Icon Settings dialog

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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