General Hide or Show Desktop Icons in Windows 11


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Desktop_banner.png

This tutorial will show you how to hide or show all desktop icons for your account, specific users, or all users in Windows 10 and Windows 11.

The desktop (Win+D) is your home screen and working space in Windows that contains the taskbar and any icons (ex: shortcuts, files, folders, etc...) you add to and arrange on the desktop.

Reference:

When you hide desktop icons, the icons are still on your desktop, but just do not display.

Your desktop icons will still always show and be available in your %UserProfile%\Desktop and shell:desktop folders.




Contents

  • Option One: Hide or Show Desktop Icons for Current User using Context Menu
  • Option Two: Hide or Show Desktop Icons for Current User using BAT file
  • Option Three: Hide and Disable All Items on the Desktop for All or Specific Users in Local Group Policy Editor
  • Option Four: Hide and Disable All Items on the Desktop for All Users using REG file




Option One

Hide or Show Desktop Icons for Current User using Context Menu


1 Right click or press and hold on your desktop.

2 Click/tap on View, and click/tap on click/tap on Show desktop icons to check (show) or uncheck (hide). (see screenshot below)

Show_desktop_icons_context_menu.png





Option Two

Hide or Show Desktop Icons for Current User using BAT file


1 Do step 2 (hide) or step 3 (show) below for what you want to do.


 2. Hide Desktop Icons for Current User

This is the default setting.


A) Click/tap on the Download button below to download the .bat file below, and go to step 4.​

Hide_desktop_icons.bat


(contents of .bat file)
Code:
@echo off

REG ADD "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced" /V HideIcons /T REG_DWORD /D 1 /F

taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
start explorer.exe


 3. Show Desktop Icons for Current User

This is the default setting.


A) Click/tap on the Download button below to download the .bat file below, and go to step 4.​

Show_desktop_icons.bat


(contents of .bat file)
Code:
@echo off

REG ADD "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced" /V HideIcons /T REG_DWORD /D 0 /F

taskkill /f /im explorer.exe
start explorer.exe

4 Save the .bat file to your desktop.

5 Unblock the .bat file.

6 Run the downloaded .bat file.

7 If prompted by UAC, click/tap on Yes to approve.

8 You will now see a command prompt quickly open and close, and your screen flicker as the explorer process is restarted to apply the registry changes.

9 You can now delete the .bat file if you like.




Option Three

Hide and Disable All Items on the Desktop for All or Specific Users in Local Group Policy Editor


You must be signed in as an administrator to use this option.

The Local Group Policy Editor is only available in the Windows 11 Pro, Enterprise, and Education editions.

All editions can use Option Four to configure the same policy.


1 Open the all users, specific users or groups, or all users except administrators Local Group Policy Editor for how you want this policy applied.

2 Navigate to the policy location below in the left pane of the Local Group Policy Editor. (see screenshot below)

(All users)​
Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Desktop

OR​

(Specific user or group)​
User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Desktop

Hide_and_disable_all_items_on_desktop_gpedit-1.png

3 In the right pane of Desktop, double click/tap on the Hide and disable all items on the desktop policy to edit it. (see screenshot above)

4 Do step 5 (hide) or step 6 (show) below for what you would like to do.

5 Hide and Disable All Items on the Desktop

This will prevent using Option One and Option Two.


This will also disable the desktop context menu.


A) Select (dot) Enabled, click/tap on OK, and go to step 7 below. (see screenshot below)​

Hide_and_disable_all_items_on_desktop_gpedit-3.png

6 Undo Hide and Disable All Items on the Desktop

This is the default setting to allow using Option One and Option Two.


A) Select (dot) Not Configured, click/tap on OK, and go to step 7 below. (see screenshot below)​

Hide_and_disable_all_items_on_desktop_gpedit-2.png

7 Close the Local Group Policy Editor.

8 Either restart the explorer process, sign out and sign in, or restart the computer to apply.




Option Four

Hide and Disable All Items on the Desktop for All Users using REG file


You must be signed in as an administrator to use this option.


1 Do step 2 (hide) or step 3 (show) below for what you would like to do.

2 Hide and Disable All Items on the Desktop for All Users

This will prevent using Option One and Option Two.


This will also disable the desktop context menu.


A) Click/tap on the Download button below to download the file below, and go to step 4 below.​

Hide_and_disable_all_items_on_desktop_for_all_users.reg


(Contents of REG file for reference)
Code:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer]
"NoDesktop"=dword:00000001

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer]
"NoDesktop"=dword:00000001

3 Undo Hide and Disable All Items on the Desktop for All Users

This is the default setting to allow using Option One and Option Two.


A) Click/tap on the Download button below to download the file below, and go to step 4 below.​

Undo_hide_and_disable_all_items_on_desktop_for_all_users.reg


(Contents of REG file for reference)
Code:
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer]
"NoDesktop"=-

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer]
"NoDesktop"=-

4 Save the REG file to your desktop.

5 Double click/tap on the downloaded REG file to merge it.

6 When prompted, click/tap on Run, Yes (UAC), Yes, and OK to approve the merge.

7 Either restart the explorer process, sign out and sign in, or restart the computer to apply.

8 You can now delete the downloaded REG file if you like.


That's it,
Shawn Brink


 

Attachments

  • Desktop.png
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  • Hide_and_disable_all_items_on_desktop_for_all_users.reg
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  • Undo_hide_and_disable_all_items_on_desktop_for_all_users.reg
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  • Hide_desktop_icons.bat
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  • Show_desktop_icons.bat
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