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How to restore files and icons missing from Windows 10 Desktop

Submitted on 03/05/2019

Your icons might have disappeared from Desktop due to several reasons: an emergency restart of your computer, system failure, unscheduled system update or file corruption. As a result, not only icons but also their files and folders are gone.

Moreover, important documents and text records can be among them. An idea of storing important data in a cloud instead of Desktop hasn't even crossed the minds of many users. 

Restoring desktop elements takes time and requires minimal skills, but fortunately this process is quite simple in the majority of cases. Further we're going to tell you how to do it (choose the most suitable method or try each of them until you manage to get your files back).

There are several ways how you can restore the icons that have disappeared from your Windows 10 Desktop:

  • Via "Personalize" Windows section;
  • Via the context menu of Desktop;
  • By restoring the files and icons sent to the Recycle Bin;
  • By rolling back to the recovery point of Windows (system restore feature);
  • By turning off tablet mode;
  • By recovering Desktop folder via Recuva.

How to get icons on desktop via "Personalize" in Windows

This method will be useful, if only system icons such as Computer, Recycle Bin, Documents and others are missing.

In order to show desktop icons on Windows 10 via "Personalize" settings, you have to:

  • select in the context menu of Windows "Personalize" command and enable it by a left-click;
  • in the opened window go to «Themes»;
  • choose «Desktop icons settings»;
  • in the opened window mark the files you want to restore and then press «Apply» and «OK». Then the selected items should appear again on your PC Desktop.

Restoring icons via the context menu of Desktop

If your icons were hidden via the context menu, you can restore them in the same way. This can be done in the following way:

  • go the context menu (put the cursor somewhere on the screen and right-click);
  • in the opened menu choose «View», and then in the additional menu – «Display desktop icons» (if it's already enabled, you have to toggle it off and on again);
  • go to the context menu one more time and click on «Update»

After it's done, the files and icons that have “disappeared” from your Desktop should be restored. Obviously this is the simplest way which is going to work only if data hasn't been actually deleted.

Restoring Desktop items from the Recycle Bin

The Recycle Bin has been designed as a temporary storage for files deleted from a hard drive and other storage devices. In order to restore deleted files (return them from the Recycle Bin to your Desktop), you have to do the following:

  • open the Recycle Bin via the context menu or Windows search bar;
  • in the opened Recycle Bin folder mark all the files that you want to restore;
  • right-click and in the opened window press «Restore»

Note that deleted files are stored in the Recycle Bin until it's full. This can happen at any time, so if you didn't have time to go through the contents of your Recycle Bin, it's better to do it right now.

Does system restore recover deleted files?

While you're using your PC, Windows 10 operating system periodically keeps the track of its current state by saving the recovery points. Therefore, you can try to restore the files by rolling back to the saved state. If it works out, your Desktop files will be stored in this "copy". 

In order to to recover Windows 10 files using system restore, you have to do the following:

1. from the «Start» menu go to the «Control Panel»;

2. from the «Control Panel» go to «Recovery»;

3. in the opened window click on «Open system restore» and press «Next»;

4. confirm the rollback to the restore point.

Restoring missing files on Desktop by turning off tablet mode

In tablet mode files and folders aren't displayed on Desktop. If you want to get access to the "invisible" icons again, you have to disable this feature. In order to do this go to:

1. Start – Settings – System;

2. In «System» window select «Tablet mode»

3. Disable «Hide app icons on the taskbar in tablet mode» feature;

4. Reboot your computer.

Restoring Desktop files via Recuva program

How to restore Desktop files via Recuva:

  1. Download and launch Recuva
  2. Select the types of files for restoring. In the opened window we suggest choosing «All files».
  3. Specify the folder from which you want to restore lost files: C:\Users\«User name»\Desktop (user name is specified in Latin letters).
  4. Wait till the process of scanning is complete
  5. From the list of files offered by this recovery program mark the items that you want to be displayed on your Desktop.
  6. Press «Restore» button.

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