[Windows 11/10] How to Fix Desktop Icon Not Showing Properly?

Say goodbye to desktop icon not showing properly problem. Here are 9 foolproof solutions help you fix the issue in minutes.


By Irene / Updated on March 22, 2024

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Are your desktop icon not showing properly on your Windows 11 or 10 computer? Don't worry, you're not alone. Many users have experienced this frustrating problem where their favorite apps, files and folders seem to disappear without a trace. But don't worry, we've compiled a list of the top 9 solutions to help you get your desktop icons back in no time!

“Why are my desktop icons not showing properly?”

Desktop icons not displaying properly is a common problem faced by many Windows 11 and 10 users. There can be various reasons why desktop icons are not displaying properly on Windows computers. From hardware issues to software glitches, there can be multiple reasons behind this annoying problem. Understanding the potential causes can help you troubleshoot more effectively.

Bad sectors on your hard drive
File Explorer issues
Icon cache corruption
Incorrect desktop icon settings
Incompatible themes configurations
Enabled tablet mode
Outdated display drivers
Windows outdated updates

As you can see, the reasons for missing or improperly displayed desktop icons on Windows can be vary. Now, follow the 9 quick fixes to resolve it right now.

9 solutions for desktop icon not showing properly 

Desktop icon not showing properly can manifest in various symptoms. Sometimes, you may find that the icons have disappeared, while other times, they may appear white or blank. For different situations we prepare targeted solutions. Now, follow the 9 easy fixes to solve Windows desktop icons not showing properly problem.  

Fix 1. Check and repair bad sectors

When bad sectors affect critical areas of the file system, it can disrupt the process of locating and accessing desktop icon files, leading to inconsistencies in their display. When the Windows computers' desktop icons do not display properly, blank or plain white icons may appear on the desktop. Let's see the detailed steps. AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard is a powerful free disk manager. It not only helps you to check bad sectors for free, but also effectively clone data disks, format disk partitions, erase the whole hard disk, and so on.

AOMEI Partition Assistant

The Best Windows Disk Partition Manager and PC Optimizer

Step 1. Download AOMEI Partition Assistant and launch it. At the main interface, right-click the partition that you want to check and select Advanced, then select Check Partition.

Advanced Check Partition


Step 2. Select the way of checking errors to perform. As you can see from the following screenshot, there are three choices, simply choose the last one “Check whether there is bad sector on the partition”. And click OK to go to the next step.

Check Bad Sectors


Step 3. Click Start button to check. The choose the target disk and select Test > Disk Surface Test.


Surface Test


Once you find the bad sector, you can isolate it into an independent unallocated space.. This protects the data in the good sectors and prevents the Operating System from using the faulty sector.

Fix 2. Restart File Explorer

Restarting File Explorer can resolve different navigation issues and temporary glitches that cause blank icons to appear on the desktop, including Windows 10/11 desktop icons not showing properly. You can follow the steps below:

Step 1. First right-click on the taskbar and select Task Manager. Then, switch to the Processes tab.


Step 2. Locate Windows Explorer/File Explorer and click Restart.

Fix 3. Clear Icon Cache

If the Windows 11/10 desktop icons not showing properly or you want to recover all the lost desktop icons on your screen, an effective solution is to clear the icon cache. In this way, the icon database will be rebuilt from scratch and all the disappeared icons will be restored. Follow these simple steps to clear the icon cache:

Step 1. To do this, first launch File Explorer and then select "File". 

Step 2. Select "Options" from the drop-down menu.

Note: For Windows 11 users, click on the three horizontal dots located at the far right and select "Options".


Step 3. Go to the "View" option tab and place a check mark on the "Show hidden files, folders, and drives" checkbox.

Step 4. Move to your C drive > Users > %Your in-use account% > AppData > Local.

Step 5. Locate and delete the icon cache file of the database file type.

Fix 4. Change the Desktop Icon Settings

If you find that certain system icons are missing from your desktop, such as This Computer, Recycle Bin, Control Panel, or Network, don't panic! In most cases, these icons don't really disappear. They just got turned off unexpectedly in the Desktop Icon Settings window. This is a common problem that happens when you're fiddling with settings or a third-party app makes changes unknowingly. The good news is that restoring these icons is easy. All you have to do is go to the Desktop Icon Settings window and check a few boxes. Here are the brief steps:

Step 1. Start by opening the Start menu and tapping on Settings to open the app.

Step 2. Navigate to Personalization and pick Themes.


Step 3. In the Related Settings section, opt for Desktop Icon Settings. Within Desktop Icon Settings, check the boxes corresponding to the system icons you wish to have displayed on the desktop.

Step 4. Apply the changes by pressing the Apply button, then click OK to save the adjustments.

Fix 5. Change a theme or return to the default settings

Most themes usually work fine on Windows, but there are a few that may not. If the desktop icon becomes blank after changing to a new theme, it may mean that the theme is incompatible with the operating system or the theme file is corrupted.

To check if the theme is causing the problem, try temporarily switching to another theme. If the problem is solved, it is likely that the faulty theme is the cause. In this case, it is best not to use the theme in the future. If you find Windows desktop icons not showing properly probably even occasional appear, it is better to back to the default settings.


Fix 6. Check If the desktop icon is enabled

If your desktop icon visibility settings are turned off, your desktop icons may become hidden and disappear from view. This can happen due to human error or as a result of using or installing a certain application. To make your desktop icons visible again, you'll need to toggle on the desktop icon visibility settings.

Step 1. Right-click on your desktop. Then, select View.

Step 2. Ensure Show desktop icons are ticked.


Note: If it isn't, click on it once to ensure it isn't causing issues displaying your desktop icons. You should immediately see your icons reappear.

Fix 7. Disable the Second Monitor

When a device is in tablet mode, it usually replaces the traditional desktop icons with larger navigation tiles. Therefore, if your desktop icons have disappeared, it's best to check if your laptop or Windows tablet currently has Tablet Mode enabled. To fix the problem of desktop icon not showing properly, you need to turn off Tablet Mode. The steps are as follows:

Step 1. Head to the action center on your taskbar, situated right next to the date and time. It's represented by a message popup symbol. If it hasn't expanded yet, expand it.

Step 2. Choose the Tablet mode tile to disable it if it's already enabled.


If you can't find it in the action center, follow the steps below to switch it off.

Step 1. Open Windows Settings and access the System. Go to Tablet settings on the left sidebar.

Step 2. Click on Change additional tablet settings. Disable the Tablet mode toggle by moving it to the left.

Note: If the problem persists even after turning off Tablet mode, you should run the SFC scan.

Fix 8. Update or reinstall the display driver 

If your desktop icons have turned white, this may be due to an outdated display driver. Updating the display driver will help to resolve this issue. Updating the display driver not only restores the original icon settings, but also replaces any corrupted driver files that may be causing the problem. If it still doesn’t work for solving problems of desktop icon not showing properly, you can uninstall then reinstall it.


Fix 9. Update Windows OS

If none of the previously mentioned solutions work, you may consider resetting your Windows 10 installation or seeking other technical support. It's also important to make sure that Windows is up to date, as updating it can automatically resolve various issues. Here's how to update your Windows installation.

Step 1. First open Windows Settings. Go to Update and Security. Select Windows Update and click Check for Updates Windows will search for the latest updates.


Step 2. When available, you can click Download and Install.

Note: Be sure to enable the Automatic Updates option to avoid problems when updating Windows in the future.


By following the guide, desktop icon not showing properly can be easily fixed. You can also use AOMEI Partition Assistant to clone disk for device upgrading or creating a full disk backup. All you need is to upgrade to the Professional edition. For Windows Server users, it offers the AOMEI Partition Assistant Server edition

Irene · Staff Editor
Irene is an Editor of AOMEI Technology. She devotes herself in giving insightful thoughts on common computer problems with simple and clear guidance. Irene loves to help people solve problems and explore more solutions on relevant issues. She loves reading, singing and travelling.