A strange thing happened the other day on a Windows 7 Professional test system. All of the desktop icons that had been placed on the computer desktop were not visible anymore.
I did not do anything before the last shut down of the system, and no application was installed that could change the visibility of the desktop icons either. Also, I did not right-click on the desktop to hide the desktop icons using the show menu.
The missing icons on the desktop can however be displayed again easily. Some users might think that they have lost all of their desktop icons but that is usually not the case.
One easy way to find out is to open the directory of the Desktop in Windows Explorer. You can either open Windows Explorer and click on Desktop if it is displayed on the left side of the Explorer window, or load the following address to find out if the icons are still listed in the folder or not: %userprofile%\desktop
If you see the icons and files there, the following tip will help you restore them. If you do not see them, something else happened and the shortcuts and files have either been moved or deleted. If the latter is the case, there is little that can be done about it.
You can consult the list of additional options at the end of the guide which may help you resolve the issue on your end.
The missing desktop icons can be displayed again by right-clicking the computer desktop and selecting View > Show Desktop Icons. They should appear immediately after making the change in the menu. A checkmark should be visible after selecting the entry.
The same menu lists additional options like displaying or hiding gadgets, aligning icons or changing the size of desktop icons. It would be nice to hear if someone else has noticed that problem in Windows 7.
As some users have pointed out below in the comment section, there are other solutions that you may want to try out if the fix did not work out in your case:
Last but not least, you may use programs to save the desktop icon layout so that you can restore it at a later point in time.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.