How to Add Default Desktop Icons on Windows 11

This post shows students and new users how to add some “special” icons like Computer, User, and Control Panel to the desktop. In previous versions of Windows, some essential icons used to automatically be added to each user’s desktop.

These were Computer, User, Control, Recycle Bin and maybe Network icons. These icons are very useful for managing and locating system settings. If you previously used these icons in other versions of Windows and you’d want them back, then steps below will show you how to do that.

In Windows 11, the Computer has been renamed to “This PC”. When you click on the icon, it takes you directly into File Explorer system drive(s).

The new Windows 11, when released to everyone in a few weeks, will come with many new features and enhancements that will work great for some while adding some learning challenges for others. Some things and settings have changed so much that folks will have to learn new ways to work with and manage Windows 11.

However, don’t be afraid, as we’ll continue writing easy to follow tutorials on how to use Windows 11 here.

To get started with restoring default desktop icons on Windows 11, follow the steps below.

How to restore previously default desktop icons on Windows 11

As mentioned before, these icons were previously the default icons on old Windows systems. They have since been removed, but you can restore them with few clicks below.

Windows 11 has a centralized location for majority of its settings app. From system configurations to creating new users and updating Windows, all can be done from the System Settings pane.

To get to System Settings, you can use the Windows key + i shortcut or click on Start ==> Settings as shown in the image below:

Alternatively, you can use the search box on the taskbar and search for Settings. Then select to open it.

Windows Settings pane should look similar to the image below. In Windows Settings, click Personalization, select Themes on the right pane of your screen shown in the image below.

On the Themes settings pane, under Related settings, click Desktop icon settings.

There, you can choose to show the Computer, User’s Files, Network, Recycle Bin and Control Panel on the desktop.

The icons select above should be shown on the desktop. These are useful icons and should help user get to essential settings quickly.

That should do it!

Conclusion:

This post showed you how to add desktop icons on Windows 11. If you find any error above or have something to add, please use the comment form below.

1 Comment

  1. Great article, thank you!

    Do you know of a way to clone a desktop for all users on Windows 11? With Windows 10, we could use Export-startLayout -path c:\temp\LayoutModification.xml and the copy that .xml to the c:\users\default\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Shell. This does not seem to work with Windows 11.

    Thank you.

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