Windows 10 Tip: Add or Remove System Icons to the Desktop

For several years users have liked to change the system desktop icons on the Windows desktop to what they want or need. Here’s how to do it in Windows 10.

For several years users have liked to change the system desktop icons on the Windows desktop to what they want or need. It used to be as easy as a simple right-click.

You can do the same thing in Windows 10 as well, but things have changed a bit (of course, as it does in all versions of Windows) and here we’ll show you how to get the desktop icons you’re used to.

Windows 10 Desktop shortcuts

Change Desktop Icons in Windows 10

To get the icons on your desktop, open Settings and in the Search box type: desktop icons and hit Enter.

That will bring up Themes and from there click on Desktop icon settings.

There you go. That brings up the Desktop icon Settings screen where you can choose the ones you want to display. It also allows you to change the appearance of an icon, and allow themes to change the icons.

What About the Old Way?

If you’re still running an older version of Windows, you might be wondering how to change the desktop icons or need a refresher. Here’s how.

Right-click an empty area on the desktop and select Personalize. Then in the Control Panel screen that opens, select Change desktop icons.

Then you will get the same screen we’ve been getting for years, and you can select the ones you want.



  1. I tried to follow your instructions but I am so totally confused. I could not simply add my email icon to my desk top for a short cut. I liked the XL but I have found 7, 8, and 10 to be bummers for our family.

  2. Doug H  

    I followed the instructions under Windows 10 and it assumes you can get a ‘search’ area to fill in. And it does not happen for me, so I am dead in the water. There is no way to get to ‘search’ using the method described above for me…

  3. Michelle Cole  

    I am following your but I am wanting to change the icons to ones not listed in the change icon window. For example, I belong to Ancestry and want to put the green square icon with the leaf on it that says Ancestry. The one that is on there now is a blue E (the Explorer symbol.) I have all these blue E’s on my desktop and I have to read each and everyone of them every time I want to open something. Like U-tube, I drug the icon it right off the website but one it hit my desktop it turned to a blue E.

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