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How to Hide Desktop Icons for Clean Desktop (& Unhide)

For a clean and modern look, you can hide all desktop icons in Windows, including the Recycle Bin. Here are the steps to do it.

The desktop is one of the most common places to save files and folders. For example, if I want to quickly create a text file, my first instinct is to do it on the desktop. Not only that but even when I’m trying to copy something from other applications or extract a zip file, I just drag them to the desktop. In addition to that, most applications automatically create shortcuts on the desktop for quick access. In fact, if needed, you can create your own shortcuts.

Though the desktop icons provide an easy way to access files, folders, and applications, all those icons can make the desktop look messy. If you like to keep your desktop clean all the while having quick access to the desktop icons, you can hide them. That way, you will get the best of both worlds, albeit with the cost of two extra clicks.

So, without further ado, let me show the ways you can hide desktop icons in Windows.

Note: The steps shown below can be followed in Windows 7 and 8 too.

Jump to:

1] Hide Desktop Icons with Right-click Option

Windows has a convenient option to quickly hide and unhide desktop icons. All you have to do is select an option and you are done.

To hide all desktop icons, simply right-click on the desktop, select “View”, and select the “Show desktop icons”. As soon as you do that, the option will be unchecked and the desktop icons will be hidden. Keep in mind that this option will hide the Recycle Bin icon too.


To unhide the desktop icons, do that same thing. i.e, “View → Show desktop icons”. This action will check the target option and unhides all the icons.


2] Group Policy Method (GPO)

If you are looking for more of a semi-permanent method, you can use the Group Policy method. This is particularly useful if you want to enforce the rule.

1. First, open the start menu, search for “Edit Group Policy” and click on the search result to open the Group Policy Editor. After opening it, go to the following folder by expanding the left panel’s folder tree.

User Configuration → Administrative Templates → Desktop

2. Once you are here, on the right panel, double-click on the “Hide and disable all items on the desktop” policy.


3. As soon as you double-click on the policy, its Properties window will open. Here, select the “Enabled” option and click on the “Ok” button to save policy changes.


4. Finally, reboot Windows or execute gpupdate /force command in elevated Command Prompt.

That is it. The desktop icons will be hidden.

I hope that helps. If you are stuck or need some help, comment below and I will try to help as much as possible. If you like this article, do check out how to disable desktop wallpaper compression and how to hide Recycle Bin on the desktop in Windows.

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