[Bug] Desktop turns black in Windows 8.1

Yesterday I discovered a bug in Windows 8.1. It is not a critical bug, but a bit annoying. After doing a specific sequence of actions, the Desktop turns black and does not show the wallpaper. This bug is related to the "Show Desktop icons" feature. Here is how to reproduce this bug.

  1. Make sure that the Desktop is showing, and then right click in an empty area of the Desktop, and untick View -> Show Desktop icons in the context menu. The desktop icons will disappear.
  2. Now right click again on the Desktop, and choose the "Personalize" item from the context menu. If you already have a theme with a single wallpaper applied, select some theme with more than one wallpaper. For example, the "Lines and colors" theme and then switch back to the default theme (called the "Windows" theme).
  3. Close the Personalization window, and the Desktop will turn black without showing any wallpaper!

To fix this bug, you have to turn on Desktop icons again and then disable them once again.

I've created a video which shows this bug in action.

I wonder who is performing testing of Windows these days at Microsoft. Since the Windows Vista days, Windows is full of dirty bugs and its quality is far from the good old "classic" pre-NT6 versions. As a person who's been using Windows since Windows 3.11, I am just sad that my working environment has turned so incredibly buggy from one version to another, and getting progressively worse with each release.

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Author: Sergey Tkachenko

Sergey Tkachenko is a software developer who started Winaero back in 2011. On this blog, Sergey is writing about everything connected to Microsoft, Windows and popular software. Follow him on Telegram, Twitter, and YouTube.

45 thoughts on “[Bug] Desktop turns black in Windows 8.1”

  1. You can also open Personalization, navigate to the Desktop Background page and than close the window. Background should reappear.

    1. This Fading Black hole screen was duplicated by unplugging my HDMI cable then installing a regular old school blue connector type cable to a different LCD screen. Ugh!! I know this has happened a few times. Just hope I did not fry my circuits in MB….

  2. Still not working for me, either. You’re the only place I’ve found with the exact problem I’m having but your fix doesn’t work for me. Have a new Asus Transformer Book T100TA.

  3. Its a simple bug But in my lap its too horrible windows desktop background went dark after log in into the stores even if i change the themes it wont work for me it default takes the solid dark color in the personalize window i think its due to blocking of my product key i’m using trail version of windows 8.1 pro preview if any body got solution please send me tips at my email.

  4. Go to Ease of access > Other Options > Show windows Background “on”

    This is a personalization problem, like me you were trying to tweak things to suit your needs and got lost in the flips and screens and next thing you know you were clicking out of apps and you saw your screen and WTF and it was on then.

    refer to


    Brandi’s Response

    1. Thank u Riley and Thomas Kelly;

      This is one of the Best answer i ever get it seems easy but very helpull for me because i dont know how back ground becomes off in my lap i didn’t do that , ha and also this will happen when switching the windows user account to Microsoft account during the log in to skype or stores i think it is a Bug of windows 8.1.

    2. If you have a Bitcoin address, I will tip you for this response. My background was black forever and even persisted in being black through a re-installation of windows (settings in the cloud I guess).

  5. Go to Ease of access > Other Options > Show windows Background “on”

    the sequence for me in windows 8.1 was Settings > Personalization > ease of access center
    Make the computer easier to see >
    uncheck “remove background images”

      1. Agreed. I have the same issue, and backgrounds are certainly enabled in Ease of Access. Previously I’ve just ended up setting backgrounds manually every time I reboot (rarely these days, thanks to working Suspend), but toggling desktop icons works and is considerably less effort – thanks for the tip :)

    1. Thanks a lot Thomas Kelly….!

      it’s so use full to me…

      At long time i can see my desktop background wallpaper.

    2. Thank you so much for posting this. The from the original post didn’t work, but yours did! Thank you, thank you!!

      1. Thank you so much… I was about to call microsoft about this problem.
        Luckily I was able to translate the instructions to Danish… If any Danes are having the same issue, here is how to fix it on a Windows 8.1
        Skrivebord -> højre klik -> Personlige Instillinger -> Funktioner til øget tilgængelighed -> Gør det lettere at se computeren -> Fjern fluebenet i ”Fjern baggrundsbilleder, hvor det er relevant.” Voila!

  6. I have a Toshiba laptop and it seems that my background stays base color even though it says I Picked some other fancy pictures. On my start screen it says my background for my desktop is a fancy picture but it doesn’t seem true on my background itself. Help

  7. I had a similar problem when I installed Google Drive. The desktop was black most of the time, and did some funny stuff when I made selections on the desktop. Fixed immediately after uninstalling Google Drive.

  8. POS Win 8 starts turning the area around icons black as I pass over them, and eventually my entire background image goes away to black. I have not found the cause (other than windows 8 is crap). But I did find I can instantly restore it. Bring up task manager, select Windows Explorer (may be near bottom), then click on Restart. This won’t reboot the computer or log you out, it just resets the screen so my background image is visible and the highlight surrounding desktop icons is no longer black.

  9. Apparently the dev team for Windows 8 keeps changing the location of the show/hide desktop background option as well. It seems it used to be under “Other options” and then “Make it easier to focus on Tasks”.

    As of Windows 8.1 enterprise:
    Ease of Access Center
    Make the computer easier to see
    (under Make things on the screen easier to see) Uncheck Remove background images

    1. Thank you very much for the instructions. I’ve been struggling with having a black desktop background ever since I bought my new Windows 8 laptop and couldn’t figure out how to fix it. As soon as I unchecked “Remove background images”, my desktop returned.


  10. i have problem help me :D (when i pick my theme from menu it shows me only black themes color ) its so saaad :((((

    i want pick my thmeme with colors so its more bueatifaul and more easy :)

  11. hi none of the above methods have worked for me. i tried unchecking ‘show desktop icons’ as well as the ‘remove background images’ option under ease of access (it wasn’t ticked in the first place but i ticked it then unticked it just to make sure). this issue is driving me mad. i’ve totally lost faith in windows because of this, if i can’t even change my wallpaper then that is pretty pathetic imo. i’m willing to try any other method if anyone knows of any (i’ve already trawled google to no avail) please help!

      1. if you had taken the time to read my comment, you would see that i have already tried unchecking ‘remove background images’ under optimize visual display in the ease of access options. have even tried the other methods suggested since i posted my last comment and still nothing works almost a year on from that. windows really is pitiful

  12. Hello, What I do when that happens I go to Task Manager and go to More Options then Windows Processes and then select Windows Explorer and Click Restart at the Bottom Right and it turns back.

    Your Welcome!

  13. I found an easier way:

    Go to the personalize window after right clicking an empty space on the desktop and choosing “personalize” If you have a previous theme before your current wallpaper (wallpeper you saved before you changed it), change it to that, then it will show it!, then revert your wallpaper back to your original one.

    Hope i helped some folks out there :)

  14. Just found this solution as nothing else was working for me.. Try it, everything else failed but this worked!!

    “Copy and paste this into the address box in any file directory (i started at ‘my documents’), then hit enter:
    In the window that opens, delete the TranscodedWallpaper file, then try to set a wallpaper normally again.”

    Hours of my life spent trying to fix this and it was just one file *facepalm*

  15. Most of the time the reason this happens is because the transcodedwallpaper becomes corrupt when it exceeds 20mb this limitation has been here for years and microsoft has still not fixed it.

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