How to add Windows XP-like Internet Explorer icon to Desktop

In early versions of Windows, Internet Explorer had a special icon right on the Desktop. It was not just a shortcut, but an ActiveX object which provided access to various IE settings and features by right clicking it. However, in Windows XP SP3, Microsoft decided to remove the icon completely from the Desktop. You were still able to create a regular shortcut to IE, but the ActiveX icon wasn't accessible any more. Let's see how to restore that useful icon on your Desktop. Just follow this simple tutorial.

The reason why you cannot add that icon is because of missing ActiveX Registry data. However, if you add all the necessary values back to the appropriate registry keys, the Internet Explorer icon will reappear on the Desktop.

I made two registry files, one to restore the icon and another remove it.

  1. Download the following file:
  2. Inside the archive you will find two *.reg files, add_ie_desktop_icon.reg and remove_ie_desktop_icon.reg. Extract them to your Desktop.
  3. Double click the "add_ie_desktop_icon.reg" file and import it into your registry. Confirm the UAC prompt and Registry Editor requests to merge it.

That's it. Right click an empty area of the Desktop and choose 'Refresh' from its context menu. The Internet Explorer icon will appear. You can right click it and directly open Internet Options, Start InPrivate Browsing or start IE in no-addons mode.

It works with all versions of Internet Explorer - IE8, IE9, IE10 and IE11.
Icon in action
Import the "remove_ie_desktop_icon.reg" file to delete it.

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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.

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