General Hide or Show Desktop Icons in Windows 11


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Desktop_banner.png

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.

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.


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 and Disable All Items on the Desktop for All or Specific Users in Local Group Policy Editor
  • Option Three: 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 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 Three 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)

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 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.


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 Three

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 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


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

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