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How to Restore Missing Desktop Icons?

Desktop icons are an extremely important part of computer use because every icon in Windows XP refers to a command to quickly launch the corresponding program. No need for us to find the accurate program location first, then direct to the .EXE application program. Many people find it frustrated to see all desktop icons including Start Button and Taskbar disappear all of a sudden or just after their clear-virus-then-restart-computer move.

This happens and all we can think of is to reinstall the computer system. This is absolutely not the most ideal method if we have tried one before. Because not only your desktop documents will be changed to adapt the new system setting, you saved files on desktop or C disk will become nothing.

So when we see icons missing, just calm down and follow advices to restore desktop icons.

Common Situations and Solve Plans

- System Upgrade

As Microsoft support articles have described, the Show Desktop Icons feature of Windows XP is by default turned on for clean installations. My Computer, My Documents, My Network Places and Internet Explorer icons may be no longer there if your system upgrades.


1. Right-click the desktop, and then click Properties.

2. On the Desktop tab, click Customize Desktop.

3. Under Desktop icons, click to select the check boxes of the icons you want to view.

4. Click OK two times.

- Wrong Operations

Desktop icons can be hidden by right clicking your your "Click Desktop Icon" item. You may just carelessly choose that option to have your icons be invisible to computer users.


1. Right-click the desktop.

2. Point to Arrange Icons By.

3. Click Show Desktop Icons.

- Virus

This is the most common reason for it because malware could bring virus to have malicious modification to related regedit key values. In this case, desktop icons will be missing.

- Trojan On Computer

Trojan especially ads Trojan will replace your desktop icons with his ads links. Some will show its changes with a different icons appearance while most do not. They choose to hide on your desktop as you can see nothing there. But when you click on the desktop, you will be lead to ad pages, modified homepages.

Situation 1:

1. Press CTRL + ALT + DEL to enter Task Manager.

2. Click File and then choose New Task (Run). Be sure you are on the Processes tab.

3. In the Open box, type in explorer.exe and click OK.

4. The regedit will be reloaded and get your desktop data back including desktop icons, taskbar, Start Button.

Situation 2:

Use iAidsoft Data Rescue.

1. Run the software on computer to achieve a scan for C disk.

2. Find desktop shortcuts to recover.

To rescue your data, try iAidsoft Data Rescue.

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