How to Change or Remove Desktop Icons in Windows 11

Computer Desktop

Use custom desktop icons on your Windows 11 PC or remove them to keep a clean look of the desktop wallpaper.

Desktop icons provide a quick and easy way to quickly access essential locations on your system like ‘This PC’, ‘Recycle Bin’, and many more along the same lines. Moreover, this set of desktop icons have always been present on a Windows computer starting Windows XP.

However, if you have been a Windows user for a long time or you generally prefer to access the file explorer using the keyboard shortcuts, these icons sitting on your desktop are not doing any good for you.

If you have been looking for a way to remove or change the icons according to your liking, Windows does offer a quick and easy way to do that.

Change Desktop Icons in Windows 11 from Settings

Changing desktop icons is a pretty straightforward process, though you need to dive into the Settings app to find the option, by no means it is difficult at all.

First, open the Settings app from the list of pinned apps on the Start Menu or simply type it in the Start Menu.

Next, click on the ‘Personalization’ tab located on the left sidebar in the Settings app.

After that, locate and click on the ‘Themes’ tile situated on the right section of the screen.

Next, scroll down to the ‘Related settings’ section and click on the ‘Desktop icon settings’ tile. This will open a separate window on your screen.

From the ‘Desktop icon settings’ window, click on the icon you wish to change from the grid of options and click on the ‘Change Icon’ button. This will open a separate window on your screen.

Now you can either use the stock options for changing the icon by selecting one from the list, or you can also choose your own icon by clicking on the ‘Browse’ icon and selecting your preferred icon using the file explorer.

Once you have chosen the desired icon, click on the ‘OK’ button to confirm and close the window.

You can also lock the icons to a particular theme and have a different set of icons for every theme. To do so, click on the checkbox preceding the ‘Allow themes to change desktop icons’ label. Now, changing the icons will only apply to the currently applied theme at the time of change.

Finally, click on the ‘Apply’ button to save the changes and then click on the ‘OK’ button to close the window.


Removing Desktop Icons in Windows 11

If you have already switched to using keyboard shortcuts to open file explorer or are not a fan of keeping any icon on your desktop, removing these stock icons might be able to satiate the minimalist inside you.

Instead of completely removing the desktop icons, you can also just hide them and get easy access to them if and when required with just a single click.

To hide desktop icons instead of removing them, head to the desktop and right-click anywhere on the empty space. Then, hover over the ‘View’ option and click to deselect on the ‘Show desktop icons’ option from the expanded context menu.

The ‘check mark’ icon adjacent to ‘Show desktop icons’ denotes that icons are visible currently.

To bring back the desktop icons, again right-click in an empty space on the desktop and click on the ‘Show desktop icons’ from the expanded context menu.

When the desktop icons are hidden, there will be no ‘check mark’ beside the ‘Show desktop icon’ option.

To completely remove icons, head to the ‘Themes’ settings page as showcased earlier in the guide and click on the ‘Desktop icon settings’ tile present under the ‘Related settings’ section from the Settings window.

From the ‘Desktop icon settings’ window, click on the checkbox preceding each option you do not wish to have on your desktop. Once, you have unchecked your desired options, click on the ‘Apply’ button to confirm your changes and then click ‘OK’ to close the window.


How to Change Size of Desktop Icons in Windows 11

If you are finding the default size of the icons to be a bit smaller or larger to your preference, you can change it using a simple keyboard shortcut or using your mouse.

To change icon size, right-click in an empty space on the desktop and hover over the ‘View’ option. Then, click to select one of the sizes from the expanded context menu. Your changes will reflect immediately.

Alternatively, you can also change the icon sizes by using their individual keyboard shortcuts. This method comes in really handy when you do not wish to navigate a menu just for changing the desktop icon size.

Below is the list of shortcuts to jump to a certain icon size. You can press any of these shortcuts mentioned below while you are on the desktop and it will immediately change the icon size.

Icon SizeKeyboard Shortcut
Extra Large IconsCtrl+Shift+1
Large IconsCtrl+Shift+2
Medium IconsCtrl+Shift+3
Small IconsCtrl+Shift+4

Well, now you do not only know how to change or remove desktop icons but also how to change their size as well. Now, go customize your desktop as per your liking and add a dash of your personality to it.