How to restore missing desktop icons in Windows 11

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Microsoft

Windows 11 automatically places some important icons, like This PC and the Recycle Bin, on your desktop after a fresh installation. However, they can be removed. Here’s how to get them back if you need them.

How to restore system icons

There are a few ways to get to the “Desktop Icon Settings” window, where you control which system icons appear on your desktop.

The easiest way to get there is through the Start menu. Click the Start button, type “Desktop Icon Settings” in the search bar, then press Enter, click “Open” or click “Themes and Related Settings”.

Note: You’ve probably noticed that the result you get isn’t actually “Desktop Icon Settings” but rather “Themes and Related Settings.” That’s fine: the Themes window is where the icon settings are located.

If you want, you can also navigate to the Themes window by navigating through the Settings app. Go to Settings > Personalization > Themes.

Look toward the bottom of the Themes window, under the “Related Settings” heading, then click “Desktop Icon Settings.”

The desktop icon settings window is pretty minimal. Simply check the boxes for the icons you want to place on your desktop, then click “OK.”

You can choose to show or hide icons for the computer, the recycle bin, your user account’s file folder, the control panel, and the network.

How to restore all icons

Maybe not only this PC and the recycle bin are missing, maybe exhibit of your icons are missing from your desktop. If that’s the case, the solution is even easier.

Right-click on empty space on your desktop, mouse over (or click) “View” and then click “Show desktop icons.”

There’s only one other likely explanation if that didn’t work: The icons were actually removed from your desktop. Icons, like most other files, are moved to the Recycle Bin before permanent deletion. That means you can probably get them back if you restore them from your Recycle Bin, even though they may have been automatically deleted. If that’s the case, you’ll just have to manually reposition them.

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