How to remove unused icons from the Windows desktop

Updated: 04/26/2017 by Computer Hope

Windows LogoYou may have many icons on your Windows desktop that came from different sources. Some were placed there upon the installation of Windows, some appear when a software program is installed, and others may have been created by you. The method of removing Windows desktop icons varies based on how they were made. To proceed, identify which type of icon you're trying to remove and follow the steps in the appropriate section.

General program icons and shortcuts

To delete an icon created by saving a file, the installation of a software program, or user-created shortcuts:

  1. Right-click the icon you'd like to delete.
  2. In the drop-down menu that appears, select Delete.

-Or-

  1. Click the icon with your left mouse button once so that it is highlighted.
  2. Press the delete key on your keyboard.

Tip: If you determine later that you need one of the shortcut icons you just deleted, you can create the shortcut icon again and place it on the Desktop.

Built-in Windows utilities

To remove the icons for Windows utilities, such as My Computer, Recycle Bin, or Control Panel, locate your version of Windows below and follow the steps in that section.

Windows 8 and 10 users

  1. Right-click on a blank part of the Windows desktop.
  2. Select Personalize in the pop-up menu.
  3. In the left navigation menu, click on Themes.
  4. Under Related Settings, click on the Desktop icon settings option.
  5. Uncheck the box next to the icon(s) you want to remove and click OK.

Microsoft Windows Vista and 7 users

  1. Right-click on a blank part of the Windows desktop.
  2. Select Personalize in the pop-up menu.
  3. In the Personalize appearance and sounds window, click the Change desktop icons link on the left-hand side.
  4. Uncheck the box next to the icon(s) you want to remove and click OK.

Additional information