How to Hide Desktop Icons

Quickly clean up your desktop clutter in Windows 10

What to Know

  • Right-click the desktop > View > remove the check from Show Desktop Icons to hide all the desktop icons. 
  • Hidden icons are still accessible from the desktop folder in File Explorer.
  • To hide an individual icon: Right-click on the icon > Properties > Hidden.

This article explains how to hide desktop icons in Windows 10, including instructions on hiding all desktop icons, showing hidden icons, and hiding only certain icons.

How Can I Hide My Desktop Icons in Windows 10?

Here’s how to hide all of your desktop icons in Windows 10.

  1. Right-click an empty spot on your desktop.

    A cluttered desktop.
  2. Move your mouse cursor over View in the context menu.

    View highlighted in the desktop right click context menu.
  3. Click Show desktop icons to remove the checkmark.

    Show desktop icons highlighted in the desktop right click context menu.
  4. When the checkmark is gone, the icons on your desktop will be hidden.

    Desktop icons hidden in Windows 10 with Show Desktop Items unchecked highlighted

How to Access Hidden Desktop Icons in Windows 10

Hiding your desktop icons doesn’t remove anything from your computer. Icons appearing on your desktop are stored in a folder you can access through File Explorer. When the icons are hidden on the desktop, they’re still accessible through the desktop folder.

Here’s how to open the desktop folder to view and access files and shortcuts you hid on the desktop.

  1. Open File Explorer.

    The File Explorer shortcut highlighted on the Windows 10 taskbar.

    Click the File Explorer icon on your taskbar, or type File Explorer into the search field on your taskbar.

  2. Click This PC.

    This PC highlighted in File Explorer.
  3. Click Desktop.

    Desktop highlighted in File Explorer.
  4. The desktop folder will open in File Explorer, allowing you to view and access the hidden shortcuts and files.

    Icons visible in the Desktop folder while being hidden on the Desktop.

How to Show Hidden Desktop Icons in Windows 10

If you changed your mind and want your icons back, you can use the same process to hide the icons.

  1. Right-click anywhere on your empty desktop.

    A blank desktop in Windows 10.
  2. Move your mouse cursor over View in the context menu.

    Desktop highlighted in File Explorer.
  3. Click Show desktop icons to place a checkmark.

    Show desktop icons highlighted in the desktop context menu.
  4. When the checkmark is present, the icons on your desktop will be visible.

    Desktop icons visible in Windows 10 and Show Desktop Items with check highlighted

How Do I Hide Certain Icons on My Desktop?

If you like having some shortcuts, files, or folders on your desktop, and you want to reduce the clutter, you can hide individual icons. Hidden icons are still there, but you won’t be able to see them unless you turn on the option to see hidden files. Hidden files are visible when you turn on the option to see them, but they appear slightly transparent.

If there’s a file or app shortcut on your desktop you want to get rid of altogether, drag it into the recycle bin instead of hiding it. When you delete a shortcut, you are not deleting the app or file itself.

Here’s how to hide some icons on your desktop in Windows 10:

  1. Right-click the file you want to hide, and click Properties.

    Properties highlighted in the desktop icon context menu.
  2. Click Hidden.

    Hidden highlighted in the desktop icon properties menu.

    When the box next to Hidden is checked, the file will be hidden.

  3. Click OK.

    OK highlighted in the desktop icon properties menu.
  4. The icon will disappear from your desktop or appear transparent if you have the desktop set to show hidden files.

    A hidden file on the Windows 10 desktop that's still visible due to settings.
  5. If the icon turns transparent instead of disappearing, open File Explorer, navigate to the desktop folder and click View.

    View highlighted in File Explorer.
  6. Click options > change folder and search options.

    Options and change folder and search options highlighted in file explorer.
  7. Click View.

    View highlighted in folder options.
  8. Click Don’t show hidden files, folders, or drives, then click OK.

    Don't show hidden files, folders, or drives highlighted.
  9. The hidden file will no longer be visible on your desktop or in the desktop folder in File Explorer.

    If you want to see your hidden icons again, you will need to return to this menu and click Show hidden files, folders, and drives.

Why Hide Desktop Icons in Windows 10?

The Windows 10 desktop is convenient, as it’s essentially a folder that’s always present front and center, providing access to specific files and apps without the need to open File Explorer. However, it tends to become cluttered over time since many apps automatically place a shortcut on the desktop.

If you’re tired of dealing with clutter and you don’t want to take the time to delete or move individual shortcuts and files, you can hide the desktop icons altogether. The shortcuts and files are all still there when you do this, and you can access them from the desktop folder in File Explorer, but the desktop will look clean and empty. If you change your mind and opt to unhide the icons, everything will show back up just the way it was initially.

FAQ
  • How do you hide desktop icons in Windows 7?

    The process for hiding icons in Windows 7 is the same as listed above for Windows 10: Right-click on the desktop, select View, then uncheck Show Desktop Icons.

  • How do you hide desktop icons on a Mac?

    There are several ways to hide desktop icons on a Mac. To hide everything on your desktop, open Terminal and type in: defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop false killall Finder. To make your icons reappear, type defaults write com.apple.finder CreateDesktop true killall Finder into Terminal. Alternatively, to hide system icons, such as hard disks, connected drivers, and servers, go to Finder > Preferences > General and uncheck system icons. There are also Mac apps that will hide your desktop for presentations or when taking screenshots. Consider downloading CleanShotX or get OneSwitch.

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