Remember the “Show Desktop icon” that was sitting on the taskbar in Windows XP and that allowed you to reveal your Desktop with one single click?
With the introduction of Windows 7, the taskbar came without the “show desktop shortcut”:
The same can also be said about Windows 8 / Windows 8.1: The windows 8 show desktop shortcut is also missing on the taskbar:
Update: If you're using Windows 10, you might want to refer to my Windows 10 specific article on how to create a show desktop shortcut. Or you might be interested in learning more about creating desktop icons for your frequently used programs. To learn how to capture images of your desktop (screenshots), see my print screen article.
People have been “trained” to use the little "show my desktop" picture on their taskbar for year in Windows, so it’s no wonder that internet help groups and user forums are now bombarded with threads titled “Windows 7 show desktop missing” and “Windows 8 show desktop icon missing”.
That icon was originally put there for a reason and many people are looking for a way to get it back.
In this article I’ll show you exactly how you can get the “show my desktop” icon back, so in case you’re using Windows 7 your Windows 7 show desktop button would look like this:
and in Windows 8 it would look like this
Before I show you how to restore the shortcut to your desktop, though, let me tell you that there are other shortcuts to get to your desktop in one move as well.
What many people don’t know is that there actually *still is* a show desktop Windows 7 shortcut on the taskbar (and also on the Windows 8 taskbar). You just have to look a little harder (and in a different location).
In Windows 7, there’s a subtle hint of the show desktop shortcut all the way on the right on the taskbar. It’s a small vertical square, sitting on the right of the clock:
You can click there to go right to your desktop, no matter how many windows you have open.
In Windows 8, there’s a similar “show desktop area” on the right edge of the task bar, but it’s even more subtle than in Windows 7. You have to move your mouse pointer to the right of the system clock in the taskbar to reveal a small, vertical line, which gives away the presence of the Windows 8 show desktop icon.
That small area, to the right of that vertical line next to the system clock, will also immediately take you to your desktop and desktop icons if you click it.
Besides the small, nearly invisible show desktop icon in Windows 8 (and 7), there’s yet another way to immediately reveal your desktop and that is by using the keyboard combination Windows-key + d or Windows-key + m.
Just give one of the two mentioned keyboard shortcuts a try and you'll quickly discover that this too can be pretty helpful indeed.
In case you still want to restore your missing show desktop icon, here’s how to do it. Right-click on an empty spot on your desktop and select “new”, then select “shortcut”.
The “Create shortcut” window will appear, asking you to type the location of the item. Copy the line below and paste it in the location box of your “Create shortcut” window.
Then click next and in the next screen, type “Show Desktop” (without the quotes) in the name field and click finish to complete your shortcut.
Your new show desktop icon will look something like this, which means that there still is room for a few improvements.
Right-click the new icon and select “Properties”. That will bring up the “Show Desktop properties” window.
In this window, click the “Change icon” button, which will take you to the “Change icon” dialog box.
In the “Change icon” dialog, there’s a field “Look for icons in this file”. Copy the line below and paste it in that field and then click ok.
Now you’ll have a whole new list of icons to choose from. The one circled in the image above is the most often used one, but you can pick any icon you like of course.
Then click ok and once again ok in the shortcut properties window and you’ll see that your new show desktop shortcut has taken the new icon now.
Now right-click your icon and select “Pin to taskbar”, to attach it to your Windows taskbar.
You’ll now see a new icon on your Windows 8 taskbar which will have the same function as the “Show desktop icon” in previous versions of Windows. You can click and drag the new icon into position if you would like to move it more to the left on your taskbar.
The images and the steps described here are for Windows 8, but they will also work with Windows 7.
By the way, they also work with Windows 10. I've even written a specific article to talk about the show desktop icon in Windows 10.
I would also like to add that this article describes how to create an icon that directly takes you to you desktop (a show desktop icon), but that there is a slightly related annoyance in Windows 10, where it can sometimes happen that the icons on your desktop are gone missing. Follow the link if you want to find out how to solve that.
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