Symbolized Windows 10 Desktop on a Blue Background

Windows 10 includes an option to hide all the icons on your desktop that’s easy to find. But if you want to hide only a few icons, you’ll need to dig a little deeper. Here’s how.

How to Show or Hide System Desktop Icons

Before we get into hiding regular files and folders on the desktop, it’s worth noting that Windows 10 includes a dedicated panel that lets you hide and unhide system icons such as your user folder, This PC, Recycle Bin, and Network.

If you want to hide or show one of these, open Settings and navigate to Personalization > Themes > Desktop Icon Settings. Check the boxes beside any icons that you want to show.

Click “OK” to save your changes, and you’ll see the results reflected on your desktop instantly.

RELATED: How to Get a "My Computer" Icon on the Desktop in Windows 10

How to Hide Non-System Desktop Icons

If you want to hide a non-system icon on your desktop, things get a little more tricky. Luckily, Windows allows you to set any file or folder as “Hidden” with a check box in the item’s “Properties” window. When you enable this option, the selected item will disappear from File Explorer. The item will continue to exist, but it won’t show up in any of your File Explorer windows, including your desktop.

You can use this option to hide specific non-system desktop items, but you’ll need to prevent File Explorer from showing hidden files first. To do so, open File Explorer by pressing Windows+E, or by opening the Start menu, typing “This PC,” and hitting Enter.

Start menu displaying "This PC"

In the File Explorer window that opens, click “View” in the menu bar and select “Options” in the toolbar below.

View menu in File Explorer

In the Folder Options window, click the “View” tab. Then, look in the “Advanced Settings” box and select “Don’t show hidden files, folders, or drives.”

Folder Options window

Click “OK” to save your changes, and the Folder Options window will close.

Go to your desktop and find the icon that you want to hide. Right-click it and select “Properties.”

In the Properties window, click the “General” tab and then locate the “Attributes” section near the bottom of the window. Place a check mark beside “Hidden.”

Click “OK,” and your icon will disappear.

Keep in mind that hiding an icon using the method described above will only make it invisible. The file or folder that you hid will remain on your PC, and anyone with access to your user account will be able to locate it if they know how to reveal hidden items.

How to Unhide Previously Hidden Desktop Icons on Windows 10

Since you can’t right-click a hidden icon to uncheck the “Hidden” option, you must first enable File Explorer’s “Show Hidden Files” setting to see any non-system icons that you hid using the method listed above.

To do so, open a File Explorer window, click “View” in the menu, and select “Options” in the toolbar. In the Folder Options window, click the “View” tab. In the “Advanced Settings” box, select “Show hidden files, folders, and drives.”

Select "Show hidden files, folders, and drives" in the Folder Options window.

Then click “OK,” and the Folder Settings window will close.

Now go to your desktop, and you’ll see hidden icons that appear translucent. Right-click a hidden icon and select “Properties.”

In the Properties window, click the “General” tab, and then uncheck “Hidden.”

Click “OK” at the bottom to save your changes, and the Properties window will close.

In the future, if you’d like to prevent others from accessing your apps, you might want to consider adding password protection to your apps instead. Good luck!

RELATED: How to Password Protect Applications on Windows 10

Profile Photo for Mahesh Makvana Mahesh Makvana
Mahesh Makvana is a freelance tech writer who specializes in writing how-to guides. He has been writing tech tutorials for over a decade now. He’s written for some of the prominent tech sites including MakeUseOf, MakeTechEasier, and Online Tech Tips.
Read Full Bio »