Restore Missing Desktop Icons in Windows 7, 8, or 10

If you’ve previously added or removed the some of the “special” icons like Computer, User, and Control Panel to the desktop—or just want to know how to add them in Windows 10—here’s how to do it.

Windows includes several desktop icons for system elements like the Recycle Bin, Computer (renamed to “This PC” in Windows 8 and 10), Control Panel, Network, and your user folder. Depending on your setup, some of these icons may have been included by default on your Windows 7 or 8 desktop. Most Windows 10 systems—again by default—include only the Recycle Bin icon. Whatever your current configuration, it’s simple enough to show or hide any of these icons on your system.

Right-click any empty space on your desktop and choose the “Personalize” option.

If you’re using Windows 10, clicking “Personalize” opens the new Settings app. On the left side, switch to the “Themes” tab. On the right side, scroll down and click the “Desktop icon settings” link.

If you’re using Windows 7 or 8, clicking “Personalize” opens the Personalization Control Panel screen. At the upper left of the window, click the “Change desktop icons” link.

Whichever version of Windows you’re using, the “Desktop Icon Settings” window that opens next looks the same. Select the check boxes for the icons you want to appear on your desktop, and then click the “OK” button.

You should see the icons show up as soon as you click Apply.

This makes it easy enough to get your desktop back to how you like it.

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.