How-To Geek

Quick Help: Restore Show Desktop Icon in Windows Vista

I’ve received dozens of emails asking how to restore the show desktop icon once you’ve deleted it, so I have a solution for everybody: I’ve zipped up a copy of the shortcut, and you can download it here.

To put it back into the Quick Launch folder, open up explorer and then type in the following into the address bar:

shell:Quick Launch


Now just unzip the file and copy it into the folder, and you’ll have the show desktop shortcut back (the one with the real icon)


Note that I have no idea if this will work for 64-bit Windows, or if you have Vista installed somewhere other than your C: drive. Please let me know if it doesn’t.

Download Show Desktop Icon for Windows Vista

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 08/14/07

Comments (163)

  1. Wayne London

    Hi – Your tip for restoring “show Desktop icon” is great. It only saves one click but that means 1000s per year and it’s easier.
    What I did was extract to desktop, then dragged to the tray.
    It also has the advantage of returning you to last page visited with one click. Thanks, Wayne

  2. Gandalf

    Men,you are a genius ,thanks a lot for you idea!!!!!

    it help me a lot,i m having a big problem for unnistall nero 7 from my pc,i have wvista and is a laptop,i had tried everything but…,nothing works..,so if you can help me with this…,thanks one more time.

  3. Andrew

    omg i was looking for this all day, thnx so much!

  4. Ruben Delgado

    You’re da man.

  5. Tim

    Great – works like a dream (which is more than can be said for vista)
    From an XP fan

  6. Ian

    Brilliant – I found various other geeky solutions but yours was a dream! Thank you!!

  7. julien

    If Windows had archangels , you’d be one of them !!
    Please let know Microsoft they are stupid not to make this restore easier!!!
    They should be paying you for helping their users !!!

  8. Miguel

    Hey men Thank you very much!!! That’s a problem that happens a lot… your are great!!!

  9. Mario

    ohhhhh..thanks God for you and your zipped copy of that shortcut…you saved me!!

  10. Lu

    I looked everywhere for this and just kept getting the old icon. Your fix worked perfectly!!! Thanks you!!!

  11. Jeez

    This was the best and the easiest solution on INTERNET. Been struggling with this for weeks now. This should be the first hit in google for “Show Desktop Vista”. Thanks so much!

  12. angel

    this is what i’ve been looking for..thank you so much!

  13. Rach

    Thank you so much, that’s brilliant!

  14. rYAN

    You can also try this…

    Copy and paste the following lines into a Notepad file.


    Save the file to your Desktop as Show Desktop.scf

  15. Adam

    For some reason it dosent work. If you could suggest any other ideas — please help!!


  16. Christine

    Thanks heaps!!!!!

  17. lala

    Thanks alot :D

  18. Anna

    Great! I have 64bit Vista and it works perfectly. I missed that nifty little icon on my toolbar!

  19. Peru

    Thank you so much, I deleted it and didnt know what it was called, I cried!
    Now its back again and life is so much easier and your the biggest star in the Universe!
    Peru W

  20. nj

    thank you SO much. i deleted the ‘show desktop’ icon from my quick launch because i thought it was pretty useless since we could “windows key+d’ it anyway. but as soon as i deleted it, i realised how DEPENDENT i was on it! i just can’t get out of the habit of clicking it on the quick launch bar.

    genious solution and so simple. thanks !

  21. sherman shackelford

    Too sweet and simple for words.


  22. Richard

    It really does work, thanks a lot.

  23. Gearˇid


    I’d given up on ever seeing it again!!!!!!

  24. VinDcator

    I looked all day without success for help on restoring these icons, UNTIL I entered the proper key words, “desktop icon vista.” Your site showed up, and my problems were solved in one minute. THANKS!!!!

  25. David

    Phew, thanks, you”ve saved my life!

  26. Aman

    Hey….Thanks a ton…It surely works

  27. shanks

    Thanks a million. That was gr8

  28. Lee

    Thank you soooo much! It worked great, was looking everywhere and everything else showed something complicated that didn’t work! This took me 1 minute to do and it worked like a charm! Thanks =D

  29. Eternus_Enigma

    Wow, THANK YOU!!! I had already tried about three ways and nothing! But this fixed my problem in a snap. Thanks a bunch!

  30. Gui

    Thanks a lot bud!

  31. Ali

    Wooow , Thanks 10000000 million :)

  32. FaHaD

    thhhhhhhhhhhhhank you so much man !!

    you did it :-)

  33. sisi

    woow , thanks a lot , it works !!!!!!!!

  34. mirek

    Brilliant!!! that’s exactly what I was looking for! simply and quick – GREAT JOB!!

  35. Nura

    Yay, fast and easy.

  36. Ali

    Thank you very much, it was fantastic.

  37. Ayten

    Thanks a lot!!!!

  38. Anonymous

    Thank you.

  39. Bibek

    Thanks a lot…..bravo

  40. Sam

    Unfortuntely, this doesn’t work for Windows 7 Beta (I don thave Vista) but I am unable to copy the show desktop to the taskbar.

  41. Brendan

    Sam, in Windows 7 Beta this feature is on the far right of the Taskbar, past the System Tray. There isn’t an icon in this version. You have to actually mouse over it to see it.

  42. Marcin

    Just quick and great!

  43. Nick

    Hey thanks a lot. Works great!

  44. Lenn0

    Thank you so much. It’s very helpful!

  45. Mena

    Thanks, very helpful

  46. Perplexed

    Wayne , you are a godsend. Thanks!!

  47. Grateful

    Thanks accidently deleted of my girlfriends laptop, got me out of a real jam

  48. mohit

    Thanks for this – works just fine!

    rYAN –> Although, your instructions brought XP’s ‘Show Desktop’ icon, it was perfect too!

  49. Jos

    It works with Vista Home 64-bit just fine – thanks!

  50. Laura L

    My vista crashed last fall and when they restored it the flip3d is gone. How can I get it back? It is getting more difficult with my new job and I need it.

  51. Laura L

    My vista crashed last fall and when they reinstalled everything the flip function was gone. How can I get it back?
    Thanks Laura L

  52. Mimi

    Thank you for this. I have no idea how the original one got deleted and it was frustrating to go to click there and realize it was gone and have to do extra clicks.

  53. James Schultz

    Thank you, sir. I typed “Show Desktop Windows Vista” in my navigation bar and was directed to your site. I read that you haven’t confirmed that it worked on Vista 64-bit. I use that platform, and I’m most obliged to say, it works! It does work for Vista 64-bit and has opened my eyes on how windows should adapt to possible scenarios. If it wasn’t for you, I’m sure Microsoft would have had a lot of problems peaking in their mailboxes.

    James Schultz

  54. bigdonthedj

    Works perfect in Vista 64 bit Ultimate!

  55. Suhail from Gaza

    soo good idea
    i learn with u this: shell:quicklunch

    very good
    i m a developper and i appresie that

    thks again

  56. Becky

    Thank you so much, what a gift it is to have the Show Desktop icon back! :o)

  57. Laura L

    The icon worked, but I still do not have the 3D function. How or where can I find it to reload it?

  58. Naresh

    Hey man this is really wonderfull thanks a lot its amazing, Keka(Wow)

  59. Cuddie

    ur a genius cuddie

  60. Lara

    yeaaahh!! the Geek, you are DA GEEX!! thank you!

  61. Best

    it works.. thanks alot

  62. Donna


  63. Barry

    Excellent – & so easy too.

  64. Anonymous

    I have Windows Vista 64-Bit, the download doesn’t work. It’s a blank file.

  65. Anonymous

    Never mind it works, read directions wrong, thank you so much!

  66. Rob

    I recently deleted the ‘show windows’ on the quick launch toolbar. Since then, all the windows are now on the left hand side and only two show up at a time. If I have more than two windows open there’s an up and down arrow I have to click to show more. All in all, it’s really annoying. I’ve tried to moved the windows back to the right side without any luck. Is this because I deleted the ‘show windows’ from the quick launch? Either way…how do I add that back to my quick launch and how do I get all my windows to go back to the right side? Your help would be greatly appreciated, thanks!!

  67. Rob

    I”m sorry, I have a correction. Since I deleted the ‘show windows’ all the windows are now on the RIGHT side and only show up two at a time. I want to get the windows back to the left hand side right next to the quick launch toolbar where they all are side by side and not only two with an up and down arrow to shift through them. Thanks so much!

  68. Marvin

    It does work for Vista 64bit, thanks very much

  69. Abdullah

    Thanks. It’s great tool with easy tips

  70. Ashley Day


    I changed my new laptop desktop display to one of the offered pictures.. However, I would like to restore it to the factory design. Could anyone please tell me how to do this? If I right click on the desktop all I get is the option to substitute another picture..

    Thanks for yor help.

  71. andrew

    many thanks man,
    your a star!!!!

  72. Mohammad

    Thanks for the help. That was really a problem for me.

  73. bing

    Thank you so much. It’s really help.

  74. Kiran

    Thanks a lot…It really is great!!!

  75. patelyne


  76. Michelle

    My Hero!!! you have restored not only my icon but my sanity :-) Thank You.

  77. Julia Friedl

    Thanks a mil! Just got a new laptop with Vista and was so frustrated without my show desktop icon. Thank you for making my day!

  78. naveen

    thankx man…………… worked :)

    hats off!
    cheerz !

  79. sudheer

    Hi I have used ur desktop icon for quuck launch .. for 64 bit vista its working fine ..

    thx dude


  80. Rach

    Thanks a million! I was so frustrated when the show desktop icon disappeared. This is the only thing that worked.

  81. Weksleere


    it’s pride and glory to develop first webpage using own hands :)
    What do you think?


  82. Atefeh

    Thanks alot it realy helped :*

  83. Sam

    you are the man, thanks a lot for having nice people like you that help out.

  84. Sam

    Oh well LOL my thrill did not last for long, now I lost the other icon that is usually beside the show desk top icon, I do not know what it is called , it is the one that let you open the windows and knid roll through them.
    Yep this one is lost too, would you care to help please. WOW things get funny by the minute LOL

  85. christos

    Works a treat . Thanks you and keep up the good work . a honest arsenal fan.

  86. mac9erd


  87. UR Satyal


  88. Tim

    All well and good, but how do I actually keep my icons hidden? I have to click off the “view” tab every time I boot up. Annoying! I want those icons to stay invisible, dammit!

  89. John D

    Thanks. FYI, this worked great on 64 bit Vista

  90. Fazal

    Thank you very much.. I tried what not.. it was a brilliant solution

  91. Mike Hunt


  92. Martin Vegas

    Muchas graciaas! Me funcionó perfectamente. es la única de más de 10 soluciones que me ha funcionado

  93. Larry

    Works GREAT on my Windows Vista 64 bit.
    I have a feeling that one of the updates that Microsoft made for Windows Vista is deleting the Desktop Icon from the Quick Launch. I am very careful not to do things like that and after seeing how many Vista users have lost the same icon it is pretty fair to make my assumption. Then since they (Microsoft) don’t have a solution we have to depend on pro’s like you to save us.
    Thank You Very Much and I’m like Tim above; I SURE MISS MY Windows XP PRO!
    After trying to work Vista for many months, it is still J u n k.

  94. kane

    ty for the help

  95. Judez

    You are a genius!! And the MS people are really dumb to not make this user friendly!

  96. Victor

    Thanks you very much! This method really works! congratulations and blessings!

  97. har

    just noticed mine had dissapeared….

    I just right clicked on the desktop, selected new / shortcut, clicked on browse -selected desktop – hit next, kept name as desktop…

    right clicked on task bar at bottom, unchecked “lock the taskbar” then drug the new shortcut there… (shortcut to desktop sitting on the desktop, hmm, kind of a paradox. heh) then checked “lock the taskbar”

    …then deleted the one off the desktop.

    should work for any folder or program you want on quick-launch.

  98. kaveh

    U r a hero man

  99. danny

    Thank you, works a treat!!

  100. intimidant

    thanks a lot, man

  101. Cody

    Worked for Windows 7 Pro 64-bit.

  102. Kelli

    Thank you so much, I don’t know what happened to my my show desktop or my 3d flip short cut. Problem solved!!!!!!!

  103. Teri

    Thanks a million! I looked EVERYwhere for help on this topic.

  104. Marco

    Love you!!!Big time……Vista gets so stupid so many times.

  105. Anurag

    Wonderful, it was quick & easy, thank you

  106. Clifford

    Occasionally, all desktop icons disappear, under Vista? The only way that I am able to successfully have the icons displayed is by logging off/on. Please help

  107. Jan

    Thanks heaps for the quick & easy solution! :)

  108. Joel Ferreira

    Excellent post, thanks! :)

  109. Teeppaja

    Somehow I managed to delete my original “Show desktop” -icon and you helped me out! Thanks.
    By the way I’m using 64-bit Vista and yes, this works.

  110. Laxmikant

    Greate man!!! its working perfectly find with Vista 64 too. Good Post

  111. Jayke

    Wow, amazing. Thank you so much

  112. Mohammad

    Thank you so much :)

  113. Gleb

    Thank you!

  114. Thanks

    You rule.

  115. Huzzah

    Worked perfectly on my 64-bit Vista. Thanks so much :)

  116. Oosa

    Thank you so much!

    The other solutions I found assumed your Windows would be in English, but this works for other languages,too. Thanks!

  117. Ruth

    Oh man, thank you! That worked! Nothing else did. And thanks for not having a lengthy sign up process. This was easy to post! Ruth

  118. Stylus

    Thank you. Seems like something you would remove by choice early on.. then be perplexed by the fact that you cannot access that very same feature at a later date.

    Thanks again.

  119. Wayne

    Yeah! Thanks a million! and I agree with Stylus! Are you listening Microsoft…?

  120. Alexis

    Vielen Dank´╝üThanks a lot

  121. Miki

    Like This

  122. Toni

    Thanks so much it worked.

  123. Kim

    Thanks. Have no idea why my icon had disappeared as I hadn’t done anything to alter any settings on my computer. Stupid Vista. Anyway, this fixed the problem so I’m very happy. Easy fix, thanks!

  124. peter schmidt

    worked like a charm!! Thanks!!

  125. Lyndon Marcuchesst

    Thanks man!

  126. Ludmila

    Siii no se como hice pero funciono perfecto para Windows Vista…. Lo arrastre hasta la carpeta Quick Launch y liato…. Muchas gracias x tu ayuda!!!!

  127. Julian


  128. d

    you’re the best i love you!

  129. Murfee

    Thank you SO much! It worked immediately, a quick and easy solution for a rather annoying problem! WHY doesn’t Microsoft have this posted on their own ridiculous website as a solution!?

  130. Kamran

    Thanks! this helped! =)

  131. Orjuwan

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    I accidentally deleted it and I’ve been wanting to get it back for a long time now!!

  132. jesus

    Thanks a million… you save me so much time.

  133. Rosli

    Thanks. I’m searching for this solution too. Accidentally moved the shortcut to desktop :-(

  134. Andrickson


  135. Mase

    Thanks a lot. I figured out how to do this, but the icon was different and the
    option to change it didn’t work and later dissappeared. But, thanks to you,
    the normal icon’s back :)

  136. Saadia

    Thanks so much!

  137. Dallas

    wow a life saver thanks so much it was put on my desktop and i was trying to move it back and followed your directions and wham….. it’s back in there thanks again

  138. Ben

    Thank you SOOOOOOOOOOOO much, that was beginning to get right on my nerves!! A very quick fix, particularly as the other methods I have found on the net didn’t work for me! Very good of you to provide the icon, cheers!

  139. kris

    Thank you so much =)

  140. mike

    Excellent! Thanks a lot!

  141. Elizabeth

    THANKS!!!! :)

  142. Pilchard

    Thanks for this, worked perfect. Bit of a flaw in Windows that you can delete it in the first place :)

  143. Riksen

    Thanx a lot

  144. Damia

    Thank you thank you.

  145. Teuchter James

    Thank you very much.

    I wonder where it went in the first place!

  146. Brent Kuykendall


  147. hussan

    god bless you son

  148. Linda

    Thats pretty cool to have on the START
    or you can just press CNTRL + D

  149. Erskine

    This is not the first time you guys have assisted me. My eternal thanks to your invaluable site and to all who manage it. Sincerely.

  150. Jerry


  151. wael

    thx . it woked

  152. Faceman

    Totally worked for Vista 64. Thanks a lot. I found another one that you just paste in your notepad and save it but it’s the crappy looking XP desktop icon. This ones better looking. Sounds dumb but I’m satisfied. Thanks again.

  153. Jumpringer

    Worked for Visa 64 bit….thanks!

  154. sam


  155. Sifat jamal

    Thanks a lot!!!

  156. night1

    it works!

  157. Amanda Vande Zande

    Thanks…Worked just like you said it would!!!

  158. Christopher Dearden

    safe one

  159. Garry

    Mine just disappeared for no reason. This brought it back. Thanks a lot.

  160. biddy79uk

    I’v got the shortcut in Explorer/quick launch ( FOLDER )
    but its not in my actual quick launch bar !
    If i double click the icon in explorer it opens 3d flip so i copied the shortcut onto muy desktop but it wont let me pin it to the quick launch bar ?????

    This is so frustrating as i.v managed to do this before on another Windows 7 pc !

  161. VeryGrateful

    thank you thank you thank you

  162. dany

    thanks a bunch

  163. happygirl

    Cheers! You’re amazing!

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