Windows XP: Hide All Desktop Icons

Posted November 20, 2005 by gouthro in Windows

You can temporarily hide all the icons on your desktop without having to delete them. The following tutorial describes how this is done.

Hiding your desktop icons is a simple procedure. Use the directions below:

    1. Right-click on your desktop.

    2. Select Arrange Icons By.

    3. You will see a Show Desktop Icons with a check on it. Click it to uncheck it.

    4. To return your icons to the desktop, repeat steps one through three.

The Conversation

Follow the reactions below and share your own thoughts.

  • Jthib

    I have lost the ability to do this for some reason. Is there a way to fix this?

  • Fred

    it also removes my wallpaper… so its totally idiot for me cuz i want to hide the icons just to see my wallpaper

  • J

    Worked like a charm… Best thing to do on friends is take a screenshot of your friends computer while everything in minimised and then apply this as the desktop background.

    Now hide all the icons and watch and laugh as the try clicking on @icons’ and nothing happens

  • Anonymous

    One of my PC’s (XP Pro) also does NOT have that option.
    Anyone come up with a solution ?

  • fgsfds

    Well that was ridiculously simple.

  • buzz

    there is a god.
    thank you

  • Riyas

    many thanks!

  • Neil

    There is no such “Show Desktop Icons” option.

  • Anonymous

    On step number 1, you say right click on your desktop. What does that mean? There is no desktop icon, just the front page where all the icons are located. Tell me specifically how and where to find the “desktop” so I can right click it

    • shashikarg

      right click on the front page, in an area where there are no icons.

  • Ger

    Hah. I have seen this option before. For whatever reason, I don’t have it now. I had it before formatting my PC. I have NO idea what makes it appear or not, lol. So strange. Oh well.

  • David

    I don’t see “Show Desktop Icons” on my XP box

    • Anonymous

      1: just right-click on your screen and read options

  • Anonymous

    How do I make a hide desktop items on the taskbar for shortcut method in XP (sp2)?

  • Name

    Just found the solution.

    go to line 246, left hand side. right click and save link as. save it to your desktop, and make sure once its saves it doesn’t have .txt at the end. open it and say yes to merg with the registry. you should now have the show desktop icons option

    • Name

      forgot, you will also have to restart explorer.exe (if you don’t know how, a restart or log on and off will do it too)

    • Another Name

      Name, awesome. My work computer has this disappeared and I’ve been trying to get the option to show so I can hide the desktop items.

  • Ritesh

    hi I am using Windows XP,
    but on my desktop when in press right click and go to properties,
    in properties I do not found the two tabs i.e. theme, and for wallpaper (to set center, stretch etc)
    and also in arrange by option I do not get the “hide desktop icon option”

    Please guide me.

  • Joed Kevin Ubalde

    me too but on my other account
    its ok

  • Anonymous

    thanks for the help!! needed to know how to do this to play a trick on my friend

  • Anonymous

    That is not for xp that is only for Vista

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the tip 🙂 very useful when you want to enjoy your wallpaper instead of all your icons 🙂

  • Mkaa

    Um… Any one know how to do that vista hover thing on xp u no u haver over it and then it shows out if any one knows plzzzzz email me that website name where i can download it… my email is and email because i wont come back to this site…

  • Ghigho

    thank you very very much

  • Josh

    On my laptop you got to go to “Arrange icons by” then look for it on that list
    Hope that helps

  • n0isyneighb0r

    nice thanks for the quick tip!

  • rem bur

    Great, thanks! Works like a charm!

  • Tksamy17

    For whatever purpose you can hide all the icons on your desktop without having to delete them.

  • Ganeshtks17

    For whatever purpose you can hide all the icons on your desktop without having to delete them.

  • Tahirkhan


  • Ummmmnoooo

    Is it possible to hide only the icons you want without hiding them all?
    Thanks for you help. 🙂

  • Danny

    In my Windows 7, I click VIEW and check or uncheck View Desktop Icons

    I use it for when I am doing a screen recording with Camstasia

  • New Richie

    Many thanks for this info. I had allowed Microsoft to do an update and my icons on the desktop disappeared. This cured the problem simply. Thanks.

  • kwill

    Thanks this works -Right-click on your arrange icons by… shows “show desktop icons”-Uncheck that in widows XP

  • Halong Cruise

    many thanks. it take me many time to find the way hide all icon

  • Mick

    Works great and so simple.

    I watch TV on a small portion of the sreen, so it’s nice turn the rest black.