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Desktop Icons Not Showing Up

desktop icons missing

Imagine a scenario where you put two socks in the clothes dryer and only get one back. Though you may theorize some spatial anomaly appeared and whisked one (the left sock) to another realm, the mystery remains mostly unsolved.

Then there is the issue of desktop icons not showing up ­– an event that might seem as mysterious but actually has many possible explanations.

Simple Reasons for Icons Not Showing

To begin, check for desktop icons not showing in Windows 10 (or prior versions) by ensuring that they are turned on to start with.

You can do so by right-clicking on the desktop, selecting View and verify Show desktop icons has a check beside it.

If it’s just the default (system) icons you seek, right-click the desktop and choose Personalize. Go into Themes and select Desktop icon settings. From here, there are several check boxes for items you may want to appear. Pick the ones you desire.

Dig Deeper into the Mystery

After checking some boxes, you may still find desktop icons missing or disappeared. If so, there are other scenarios to look into.

Restart Windows Explorer

Windows Explorer (explorer.exe) controls the desktop view (icons, taskbar and system tray). Restarting this service can refresh the desktop.

On your keyboard, you’ll want to hit Ctrl + Alt + Del and then select Task Manager. Find the service, right-click and choose to Restart.

Close Down Conflicting Applications

Too many applications running – or even the wrong combination –  can cause strange behaviors. Whether there is a conflict or resources are being drained, services may bog down (or even lock up) a computer. Among other things, this could affect icons or other desktop items from displaying correctly.

Some advanced users may even have a different window manager than explorer.exe – but this is unlikely.

You can go into each program to close it down or bring up the Task Manager and shut down several from there. You can also opt for the old faithful approach of rebooting the computer for a quicker way of freeing resources up.

Updating Device Drivers

Every device on your computer has a software driver behind it. When these are not optimal, you’ll want to update them.

It’s not always apparent drivers are the issue nor is it typically easy to tell which device is the culprit. While there are tools that can help discover them, you can also check to see if anything has been misbehaving as of late.

Once you determine which device to focus on, it’s time to decide how you want to go about downloading and installing the latest driver.

Windows Database Search for Drivers

Use the search box on the taskbar to locate and open the Device Manager. Afterward, find the device you’re seeking, right-click and choose to update the driver. Go with the option to let Windows search for it automatically.

Cross your fingers and wait.

Manually Download Drivers from Manufacturer’s Website

Using the steps above, go into Device Manager and choose to search for the driver yourself. Of course, you’ll need to download one first. This will require searching the manufacturer’s website with enough information (model and serial numbers) to find what you’re looking for.

Use Driver Support for Automatic Updates

Unless you enjoy a riveting quest for drivers, there is software – such as Driver Support – that will do the job for you. Once set up, Driver Support can inventory your computer for a vast list of supported drivers and update them as needed.

Other Realms of Possibility

With the ongoing assumption that icon-siphoning wormholes are not to blame, there are other potential culprits. These can include corrupt icon cache, bad/missing registry settings or even viruses.

While there are various approaches to each of these that range in complexity, they’re not within the scope of this article.

Driver Support Can Make the Burden Disappear

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Give DriverSupport | ONE a try today!  today. The time you save can be put toward other activities – such as an investigation into where that other sock went.