Updated: 09/15/2017 by Computer Hope

A desktop may refer to any of the following:

1. Desktop is a term commonly used to describe a desktop computer or system unit.

2. In reference to software, desktop refers to the desktop environment, which is a Graphical User Interface metaphor that allows for interaction between the user and the operating system.

3. Desktops is a Windows Sysinternals utility that allows users to manage applications on up to four virtual desktops, all accessible using the tray icon interface.

4. When referring to an operating system or GUI, the Desktop is a system of organization of icons on a screen. The Microsoft Windows Desktop was first introduced with Microsoft Windows 95 and has been included with every version of Windows since then. The image below is an example of the Microsoft Windows Desktop.

Windows 7 Desktop

The above picture specifically is an example of the Microsoft Windows 7 Desktop. In this example, there are no icons on the Desktop and the wallpaper is a blue screen with the Windows 7 logo. Also, the Taskbar is at the bottom of the Desktop and contains the Start button, Taskbar icons, Windows Notification Area, and the time and date.

Tip: Press the Windows key + D at any time to get to the Windows Desktop. Pressing those same keys again restores any window that was minimized the first time you used the shortcut key combination.

What icons and items are found on the Windows Desktop?

Some of the most common icons on the Desktop include those for My Computer, Recycle Bin, your Internet browser (e.g. Internet Explorer), and My Documents. On the Windows Desktop, you also have access to the Windows Start Menu through the Start button on the Taskbar, as well as the Windows Notification Area.

If some or all of these icons are missing on the Desktop, you can change which icons are displayed. Click on the link below and follow the steps to show, or hide, these icons.

The date and time is also shown on the Desktop, in the notification area on the taskbar. If the date and time is incorrect, you can change the date and time right from the Desktop.

Active desktop, Chassis, CTD, Microcomputer, Nettop, Operating system terms, PC, Presentation manager, Remote desktop, Show desktop icon, Slimline model, Work area