Hide Desktop Icon Text on Windows 7 or Vista

Some icons are just obvious enough that nobody should need text below them to tell them what the icon is for. A good example of this is the icon for Internet Explorer. We’re all really used to it by now, and the text just makes it ugly.

Just right-click on the shortcut, and choose Rename. Now hold down the Alt key and type in 255 on the keypad to the right of the keyboard. You can’t use the number keys right above the keyboard, they won’t work. If you have a laptop, you can turn on numlock and then use the little number keys next to the regular letters. (You know you always wondered what they were for)

For the first shortcut on the desktop, a simple Alt+255 will do. For the next shortcut, you’ll have to enter the combination twice (Alt+255, Alt+255). For the third, 3 times… you get the idea.

The way this works is that the Alt+255 character is blank, so the shortcut filename is actually just named with a character that is completely blank. Since you can’t have two shortcuts or files named the exact same thing, the second shortcut will have to be named with two blank characters.

Now we have a sweet looking icon on the desktop, with no bothersome text beneath it.

This tip should actually work on any version of Windows, but it works a lot better on Win7 or Vista, because they have beautiful icons.

If you use this tip to rename a folder, you will not be able to rename the folder back using the right-click rename. I’m not sure why this is. What you’ll have to do is open a command prompt and change directory into the containing folder (For instance, the desktop folder), and run this command:

ren “Alt+255” “NewFolderName”

You will need to actually type the Alt+255 characters where illustrated in the command. It will appear as a space.

Note that the Recycle Bin icon won’t work this way (It does work on Windows 7, at least), you’ll have to follow this guide.

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 02/17/07
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