Fix Desktop Icons Missing / Not Showing Issue In Windows 10

Some users put anything and everything on their desktop itself. So, if suddenly the desktop icons go missing, that definitely is going to be a nightmare for them. The reason why desktop icons stop showing could be many. But the solutions are very simple and straight forward. If you are one of those users who woke up to find a clean slate desktop today morning, you are in the right place. We have the perfect compilation of working solutions for you to fix the issue in a matter of seconds.

Method 1: Enable Show Desktop Icons

Right click on an empty space in your Desktop. From the right click context menu, click on View and then click on Show desktop icons.


1 Show Desktop Icons


Check if this solves your issue. If not, please head on to the next method.

Method 2: Auto Arrange Icons

This is not a proper solution, but a workaround that you can try. For some users, this solution has worked.

On your desktop, right click on an empty spot and from the right click context menu, click the option View. As next, click on Auto arrange icons option. Check if your issue is resolved.


12 Auto Arrange Icons

Method 3: Change Tablet Mode Settings

1. Press WIN +I keys together and open windows Settings app. As next, click on the System tile.


7 Settings System


2. When the System settings open up, in the left window pane, scroll down and click on the Tablet mode option. In the right window pane,

For the dropdown menu associated with the option When I sign in, choose Never Use Tablet mode.

For the dropdown menu associated with the option When this device automatically switches tablet mode on or off, choose Don’t ask me and don’t switch.

Tablet Mode 1 Min

Check if your issue is resolved. If not, you can revert back your tablet mode settings.

Method 4: Restart Windows Explorer

1. Right click on an empty space on the taskbar. From the menu that expands out, click on Task Manager.


2 Taskbar Task Manager


2. When the Task Manager launches, click on Processes tab first. Now, under Apps section, locate and click on the Windows Explorer instance to select it. Once selected, click on the Restart button at the bottom right corner.


3 Restart Windows Explorer


That’s it. Check whether your desktop icons are back.

Method 5: Rebuild Icon Cache From Windows File Explorer

There is a huge possibility that your icon cache is corrupt. If that is the case, then it could very well be the reason why your desktop is failing to load icons. Please follow the steps below to rebuild your icon cache:

1. Launch windows file explorer and click on the View tab. As next, enable the checkbox Hidden items.


5 File Explorer Enable Hidden Items


2. Now in the File Explorer navigation bar, copy paste the following path. Replace User with your actual user name.


Now scroll all the way down and locate the file named IconCache. Once you find it, select it and hit Shift and Delete keys at once to remove it.


6 Delete Icon Cache


Restart your machine. Check if your issue is resolved or not.

Method 6: Rebuild Icon Cache From Command Prompt

There is one more way for you to rebuild your windows icon cache. This is an alternative to Method 8. If you have already tried Method 8, then please skip this method and go ahead with Method 10.

1. Press the keys CTRL + ALT + DELETE together. From the lock screen, choose the option Task Manager.


13 Task Manager


2. Click on Processes tab first. Then under Apps section, look for Windows Explorer instance. Right click on it and click on End task.



14 Windows Explorer


Your windows explorer would now be gone. Do not panic. Keep following the steps below:

3. In the Task Manager window, click on File tab. And then click on Run new task option.


15 Run New Task


4. In the Create new task window, type in cmd and hit Enter key to open Command Prompt with administrator privileges.


16 Create New Task Cmd


5. Now in the Command Prompt, execute the following one by one. Do not forget to hit Enter key after each command.

CD /d %userprofile%\AppData\Local
DEL IconCache.db /a


17 Cmd Delete Icon Cache


6. Once done, click on File tab of Task Manager once again. Now click on the option Run new task.


15 Run New Task


7. This time, type in explorer.exe and hit Enter key. That’s it. Your Windows Explorer should now be up.


18 Create New Task Explorer


Restart your machine. Check whether your issue is resolved.

Method 7: Disable / Uninstall UI Modifying Apps or Themes

Sometimes, with some applications, some unwanted applications might also get installed in your machine. UI modifying apps come under this category. One common UI modifying application that is reported to have been changing windows user interface is UXthemepatcher. If you find it in your machine, uninstall or disable it. Please follow the steps below to uninstall an application in windows from control panel.

1.  Press WIN + R keys together to launch the Run command window. Type in appwiz.cpl and hit Enter key.


1 Run Appwiz


2. Programs and Features window would now be open in front of you. From the list of software installed, look for an entry that says UXthemepatcher. If you find it, right click on it and then click on the Uninstall option. Else you can simply click on it to select it and then click on the Uninstall button at the top.


2 Uninstall Program


3. When you get the following UAC for uninstall confirmation, press Yes button.


3 Uac Uninstall


Restart your machine and check if desktop icons are showing now.

Method 8: Check Desktop Icon Settings

1. As usual, launch windows Settings app by pressing Windows key and I key at once. When it opens up, click on Personalization tile.


8 Settings Personalization


2. From the left pane of the window, find and click on the Themes tab. Now in the right window pane, look for the section named Related Settings. Under it, click on the link that says Desktop icon settings.


10 Themes Desktop Icon Settings


3. Now when the Desktop Icon Settings window launches, under the section Desktop Icons, enable all the icons that you want to be visible on your desktop. Once done, hit Apply button and then OK button.


11 Desktop Icon Settings


Method 9: Perform System File Checker Scan

System File Checker is a command line tool that is very useful in finding broken system files and in fixing them. It is worth a try to check if corrupted system files are the reason why your desktop is not showing desktop icons.

1. Click on windows start menu search bar. Type in cmd. Right click on Command Prompt and then click on Run as administrator option.


1 Cmd Run Admin


2. Execute the following command next.

sfc /scannow


2 Sfc Scan Now


Once the scan runs to completion, restart your machine and check if your desktop icons are back.

Method 10: Change Projection Mode

Press WIN and P keys together to view the projection modes. Once it opens, choose the option PC screen only.


4 Project Pc Screen Only


Check if your issue is fixed. If not, you can revert back your projection settings.

Method 11: Turn Off Start Menu Full Screen Option

1. Open windows Settings app by pressing WIN and I keys together. As next, click on the Personalization tile.


8 Settings Personalization


2. Click on Start option from the left window pane and in the right window pane, scroll down to find and turn off the toggle button Use Start full screen.


9 Start Full Screen Off


Once you are done, check if desktop icons are coming or not.

Hope one of the above methods fixed your issue. Please tell us in comments which one worked for you.