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How to Remove Icons from Windows 10 Desktop

Adding new apps, software, and programs to your computer can be fun. On almost all installations, you’re given the option to add a desktop icon. More often than not, this serves as a shortcut to the actual executable file. However, this can lead to an overabundance of icons cluttering your desktop area.

Now you want to remove some or all of them but are uncertain on how to go about it properly. Interestingly enough, there are three ways in which you can reduce the clutter and safely remove those icons from Windows 10 desktop.

Method 1. Directly Deleting the Icons from Desktop on Windows 10

The most direct way to remove or delete a desktop icon on Windows 10 is as follows:

Step 1. Locate the icon you want to delete on your desktop.

Icon on Windows 10 desktop

Step 2. Right-click that icon you want to remove and select Delete from the pop-up menu.

Directly delete icon from Windows 10 desktop

Step 3. You might be asked if you’re sure you want to move this shortcut to the Recycle Bin. In case of this, click Yes.

Another way to delete an icon directly is to highlight that icon with left-click and press the Delete (Del) key on your keyboard.

When deleting an icon in this way, it sends them to the Recycle Bin for a period of time. But you can bypass the Recycle Bin entirely by:

Step 1. Left-clicking the icon to highlight it.

Step 2. Press the Shift + Delete keys simultaneously.

Step 3. Choose Yes to the following prompt:

Permanently remove shortcut on Windows 10 desktop

To delete those icons already moved to the Recycle Bin permanently, without waiting:

Step 1. Launch the Recycle Bin.

Icons in recycle Bin Windows 10

Step 2. Select the icon and press Delete (Del) on your keyboard or, right-click the icon and choose Delete from the pop-up window.

Delete icon on recycle bin Windows 10

Step 3. Click Yes when receiving the following prompt:

Permanently delete icon on recycle bin Windows 10

Another way is to delete everything from the Recycle Bin directly.

Step 1. Right-click the Recycle Bin.

Step 2. Choose Empty Recycle Bin.

Empty recycle bin to remove icons on Windows 10

Method 2. Remove Desktop Icons on Windows 10 from the Desktop Icon Settings

It’s possible when attempting to delete an icon, there isn’t an option presented. This usually happens when trying to delete system icons. What you can do in this situation is remove them from the Desktop Icon Settings.

Step 1. Right-click an empty space on your Windows 10 Desktop.

Step 2. From the pop-up menu, select Personalize.

Personalize in Windows 10 right-click menu

Step 3. In the Settings window left side panel, select Themes.

Themes in Personalize Windows 10

Step 4. In the right pane, scroll down to Related Settings and click on Desktop icon settings.

Desktop icon settings in Windows 10

Step 5. Uncheck all icons you do not wish to show on your Windows 10 desktop.

Uncheck to remove icons from desktop on Windows 10

Step 6. To confirm all changes, click OK.

Method 3. Hide Desktop Icons on Windows 10 from the Desktop Context Menu

The final method to remove desktop icons from view is to do so from the Desktop Context Menu. This will allow you to show/hide all of your icons on the desktop instead of deleting them completely.

Step 1. Right-click an empty space on the desktop.

Step 2. Click View from the pop-up menu.

View in Windows 10 right-click menu

Step 3. From the sub-text menu, locate Show desktop icons.

Show desktop icons in Windows 10

Step 4. Uncheck this by clicking it.

Uncheck Show desktop icons in Windows 10

This will immediately make your desktop icons disappear. To return them to view, repeat the above steps, adding the checkmark back to Show desktop icons.

FAQs About Desktop Icons in Windows 10

Why Do I Need To Remove My Icons From Windows 10 Desktop?

It’s not a necessity, however, over time, a desktop can become cluttered by icons. This could lead to complications finding the correct icon corresponding to an app or program. Not to mention it looks ugly and unorganized. You chose that new desktop wallpaper for a reason. How will you show it off if your entire screen is covered in apps, folders, programs, and the like?

Is It Safe For My PC To Remove Icons From Windows 10 Desktop?

Removing icons from your Windows 10 desktop is completely safe. Usually, an icon is only a shortcut to the actual executable (.exe) file of the program or app you’re launching. Removing the desktop icon does not necessarily mean the program or app will be deleted along with it. You’d need to go a bit deeper to remove a program or app completely if that is your intention.

How Many Desktop Icons Is Considered “Acceptable”?

The frequency of icon to wallpaper ratio is entirely up to the user. Some Windows 10 lovers prefer to have a completely clean desktop, opting to go directly to the files needed or utilizing the search bar on the taskbar. Whereas others may prefer to have all of their apps within double-clicking distance. That choice is entirely up to you.

If I Remove An Icon, Can I Get It Back Later?

A recently removed icon will remain in the Recycle Bin for a while. So long as you haven’t permanently deleted the icon, you can reacquire it from there. However, if an icon has been permanently deleted, you will need to go to the file for which you wish to create an icon directly. Once there, you can right-click it and select Create Shortcut from the pop-up menu.


Whether you like order in your workplace or chaos, understanding how to create and remove shortcuts from your Windows 10 desktop is one of the fundamentals. How you choose to use the information is entirely up to you.

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