How to make Windows 10 show familiar desktop icons

In earlier Windows versions, the Desktop had important icons enabled by default - My Computer (which is now known as This PC), Network, My Documents were all visible by default. However, in modern Windows versions, Microsoft made most of these icons hidden. In Windows 10, only the Recycle Bin is present on Desktop by default. Also, the Windows 10 Start Menu does not have links to these icons either. Let's see how to add the classic icons back to the Desktop in Windows 10.

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In Windows releases prior to Windows 10, it was relatively simple. Windows 8.1 still came with the classic "Personalize" option in the Desktop context menu. There was a link there to open the Desktop Icons dialog where the user could turn on the desired icons.

But in Windows 10, Microsoft removed the classic Personalize item from the Desktop context menu. Once you click "Personalize", it will open the Settings app where you may be lost finding the Desktop icons link.

To make Windows 10 show the classic desktop icons dialog, you need to do the following:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to Personalization -> Themes.
    Tip: You can open this page directly with the following command:
    ms-settings:themes

    Press Win + R on the keyboard and type or paste the command above in the Run box. See the full list of ms-settings commands available in Windows 10. Also, you might be interesed in reading the full list of all Windows keyboard shortcuts with Win keys.Windows 10 settings

  3. There you can see the "Desktop icons" link on the right side. Once you click it, it will open the familiar dialog:Windows 10 desktop icons
  4. Tick the checkboxes under the icons you want to show on your Desktop and click OK.Windows 10 desktop icons tick boxes

Windows 10 desktop icons enabled

Users who still prefer the classic Personalization window might want to use Personalization Panel for Windows 10. This is a freeware app I created to bring the look and feel of the classic Personalization window to Windows 10:

personalization panel for Windows 10 v1.1-3Read the following article: Get classic Personalization back with Personalization Panel for Windows 10.

That's it.

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3 thoughts on “How to make Windows 10 show familiar desktop icons

  1. Techie Bear

    Is there any way to change the Taskbar buttons from “Modern” to “Windows 7 icons”? I find the Modern app icons difficult to see.

    Reply
    1. Sergey Tkachenko Post author

      What are Windows 7 icons?

      Reply
  2. Techie Bear

    Hello Sergey,
    The icons for things like the network and audio items are ‘fleshed out’ icons with color. These are very different than the thin-line modern icons. These older icons are much easier to see than the so-called modern icons, which are thin lines all in white.
    Regards,
    Techie Bear

    Reply

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