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Show or hide specific desktop icons in Windows 10



Symbolized Windows 10 desktop on a blue background

Windows 10 includes an option to hide all icons on your desktop that are easy to find. But if you just want to hide a few icons, dig a little deeper. Here’s how.

How to show or hide system desktop icons

Before we get into hiding common files and folders on the desktop, it’s worth noting that Windows 10 includes a special panel that allows you to hide and unhide system icons such as your User Folder, This PC, Recycle Bin, and Network.

To hide or show any of these, open Settings and go to Personalization> Themes> Desktop icon settings. Check the boxes next to all the icons you want to display.

Desktop icon settings window

Click “OK” to save your changes and you will see the results immediately on your desktop.

RELATED: Fix missing desktop icons in Windows 7, 8 or 10

How to Hide Non-System Desktop Icons

If you want to hide a non-system icon on your desktop, things get a little trickier. Fortunately, Windows allows you to set any file or folder as “Hidden” with a check box in the item’s “Properties” window. If you enable this option, the selected item will disappear from File Explorer. The item will persist, but it will not appear in your File Explorer windows, including your desktop.

You can use this option to hide specific non-system desktop items, but you should prevent File Explorer from showing hidden files first. To do this, open File Explorer by pressing Windows + E or by opening the Start menu, typing “This PC” and pressing Enter.

Start menu is displayed

In the Explorer window that opens, click “View” in the menu bar and select “Options” in the toolbar below.

View menu in Explorer

In the Folder Options window, click the “View” tab. Then look in the ‘Advanced settings’ box and select ‘Do not show hidden files, folders or drives’.

Folder Options window

Click “OK” to save your changes and the Folder Options window will close.

Go to your desktop and find the icon you want to hide. Right click on it and select ‘Properties’.

Context menu for a desktop icon

In the properties window, click the “General” tab and locate the “Attributes” section at the bottom of the window. Place a check next to ‘Hidden’.

To check

Click “OK” and your icon will disappear.

Keep in mind that hiding an icon using the method described above will only make it invisible. The file or folder you have hidden will remain on your PC and anyone with access to your user account will be able to find it if they know how to reveal hidden items.

Unhide previously hidden desktop icons on Windows 10

Since you cannot right-click on a hidden icon to turn off the “Hidden” option, you must first enable File Explorer’s “Show hidden files” setting to see non-system icons that you have hidden using the method mentioned above .

To do this, open an Explorer window, click “View” in the menu and select “Options” from the toolbar. In the Folder Options window, click the “View” tab. In the ‘Advanced settings’ box, select ‘Show hidden files, folders and drives’.

Then click “OK” and the Folder Settings window will close.

Now go to your desktop and you will see hidden icons that appear translucent. Right-click on a hidden icon and select ‘Properties’.

Right-click menu for a desktop icon

In the properties window, click the “General” tab and uncheck “Hidden”.

Clear the check box

Click “OK” at the bottom to save your changes and the Properties window will close.

If you want to prevent others from accessing your apps in the future, consider adding password protection to your apps instead. Good luck!

RELATED: Password protect applications on Windows 10




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