How to remove unused icons from the Windows desktop

Updated: 04/30/2020 by Computer Hope
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You may have many icons on your Windows desktop that came from different sources. Some were placed there after installing Windows, some appear when a 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 the type of icon you're trying to remove and follow the steps in the appropriate section.

Tip

Deleting a shortcut does not uninstall a program.

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.

Option 2:

  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 the shortcut is needed again in the future, you can create the shortcut icon again and place it on the desktop. See: How to create a Windows shortcut.

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.

Windows 8 and 10 users

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

Microsoft Windows Vista and 7 users

  1. Right-click a blank area 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 side.
  4. Uncheck the box next to the icon(s) you want to remove, click Apply, and then OK.