Desktop icons are gone, taskbar won't show up

ImperfectMyth - Updated on Jun 6, 2017 at 03:41 PM
Registration date
Thursday May 30, 2019
Last seen
June 5, 2019
- Jun 2, 2019 at 04:51 AM
I restarted my computer yesterday, and it restarted normally. I got on Myspace, Facebook, and AIM. Random tabs kept opening up containing ads. My McAfee service popped up, saying it caught and removed a trojan. I clicked "ok", and went on. when I closed everything to go to bed, I noticed that my desktop had no icons and I could not open my taskbar. I did find out that I could open the taskmanager using ctrl+alt+delete, and open Firefox and all of my other documents.

I have tried rebooting the computer, doing a system restore, and I used my McAfee 3-User Total Protection to do a full scan of my copmuter for trogans, spyware, adware, and other viruses and it came up with nothing.

I really need a good, full, descriptive answer.

Thank you!

18 replies

Ok This Is where I am experienced at, either you can:
  • 1. Go alt+Ctrl+Delete at the same time and wait for a box to open
  • 2. when the box is open Click "file" at the top and then Click "New Task (Run...)"
  • 3. When you get another small box with something to type in, type in "explorer.exe" (without the ")
  • 4. Your Taskbar and Icons will now load, If not your computer is corrupt. If that happens take your computer to your local IT Guy and ask Him to install explorer for you because it is corrupt

Or you Can do This : (You Have to know a bit about your computer)
  • 1. Go to Run Like in Above
  • 2. Now instead of typing "explorer" type in (or any other web address)
  • 3. Your Default web browser should open. Now type in in the top "C:\" (without ") and your files should open. dont do anything yet
  • 4. Now go Alt+Ctrl+Del and click on the tab "Processes" Find Explorer.exe in that list and click end process.
  • 5. Now In Alt+Ctrl+Del click on the tab "Applications" and end your browser, Normally "Internet Explorer.exe"
  • 6. Restart By going to Alt+Ctrl+Del and clicking "shut down" at the top.
  • 7. This Refreshes your computer and maybe when you have finished restarting you can have your old pc back
thnx love u guys
I am no expert and followed this. I have my system running again immediately icons back, now running various virus checks with sophos and malwarebytes. Thank you for the post . GNR
Thanks Rhys, fixed my problem immediately too. Great help.
Thank you SO much Rhys! The first solution worked for me, I am so relieved!
In case anyone is interested, I had a slightly different version of the problem than the one described in the other thread. Under the registry key

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

the value for Shell was "Explorer.exe C:\Windows\Config\csrss.exe". However the path C:\Windows\Config didn't even exist. I removed the later part and changed it to just "Explorer.exe" which solved the problem for me. My guess is that this was a virus that was removed by the anti-virus software, but it didn't correct the registry.
Thanks, been struggling for an hour, luckily I had another machine running so was able to search google and found this almost immediately. Thanks again.
...whew thanks a lot!!!...i thought im screwed...thanks for the help...
this is the best help I ever got on forums. thanks a lot. My shell key has been changed to userinit.exe and I changed to Explorer.exe and it worked
I cant believe how simple that fix was.

Thanks alot dude. Soooo appreciated.

For all numpties out there if you dont understand the fix.

PRESS Ctrl + Alt + DEL together.

Then on process tab close explorer.exe if its open.

Then on the applications tab click start new task.

Finally in the box type ''explorer.exe''


Thanks alot again.
hi had a similar problem yesterday....and I was working the whole day through task manager!

It did strike me later that last night I did run quickheal antivirus before going to bed and it might hv deleted some system files considering it to be virus!

in my case the file "svchost.exe" was quarantined by quick heal,so I restored it back.

now after restarting the computer, the desktop and other icons are showing up!

Hope this helps.

sir quick heel antivirus remove svc host .exe how to restore svchost.exe

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restore your system to an earlier point and uninstall your anti virus then reinstalll it again or better still use another... thanks
Hi guys,
after much time and even more anger... here's what fixed my missing desktop icons and basic windows functions.

1. Copy a known good clean explorer.exe file from the windows folder.
2. Copy a known good clean userinit.exe from c:\windows\system32.
3. Copy these files to a usb flash drive.
4. Rename both files to dot new meaning... instead of explorer.exe.
5. Boot dead p.c. into safe mode.
6. Copy each file back to where you got them from... c:\windows (for explorer) And c:\windows\system32 (for userinit.exe)

7. Rebbot machine into safe mode with command prompt only.
8. delete the c:\windows explorer.exe file by typing..

cd\ press enter
cd windows press enter
del explorer.exe
Now rename the new file by typing

ren explorer.exe press enter

change to the system32 folder by typing cd system32 press enter

delte userinit.exe type del userinit.exe

rename the new file by typing ren userinit.exe press enter

and that's what worked for me.

There was also one other registry setting that had been altered.

And that was located here:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

The value for the shell key had been renamed. Instead of it reading Exploere.exe
It read Explor e.exe There was a space in the filename, thus windows would never load that file as it didn't exist.

Hope this helps someone out. It sure was a pain in the butt to fix.

I did run a current version of the Malwarebytes and it came up with no errors.
That's what gave me a hint that these two files had been altered - I checked the time stamp on both files. Date was correct, the time was not.


ACCESS DENIED... do you got other ideas.. because I tried to delete those two files and all it says is ACCESS DENIED..
Registration date
Monday February 1, 2010
Last seen
September 1, 2021
Jun 24, 2010 at 06:29 AM

See Darkmood's solution, it is much simpler and quicker.

Good luck
Registration date
Monday February 16, 2009
Last seen
March 10, 2009

Mar 10, 2009 at 07:36 PM
Check what programs you have installed recently.

What I would suggest is uninstalling any recently installed programs, ensure your pc is not connected to any networks and then see what happens.

I had this same issue on a clean-boot after isntalling SAV 10.1.5 Corporate the system wouldn't show the icons/start menu etc as it was corrupting explorer.exe.

Opening the task manager and creating a new explorer.exe and ending the one that appeared to be stuck in memory I would then see some icons but the computer's HDD would then skyrocket and it would literally hang.

Booting into safe mode, enabling the Windows Installer Servic and uninstalling SAV 10.1.5 then rebooting did magic. System is totally responsive and runs fantastic.
Okay. One solution is to follow the Windows Task Manager then from there click on File -> New Task (run) -> Browse -> C drive -> Program Files folder -> Internet Explorer Folder -> Internet Explorer.exe and run it.
Now your connected to the web and go to and download Malwarebytes -> Install it -> Updated it -> Run it -> Reboot -> Run it in safe mode if that didnt work. That should be one viable way. Also from the Windows Task Manager you can run any anti-virus, anti-malware, or anti-spyware virus program that you have on your own system. So you do have a way into your system.
Hope that helps
End of story xD
May 5, 2009 at 04:29 AM
Guys thank you for ur expertizzz. We thank you u all for the great help.

Guys if u have vista or xp esy way is this.
1) CTRL+ALT+DEL = Task manager. AFter that add explorer.exe (For vista press file and ad task xD) (for xp srry no idea xD) then it should work xD. AFTER THAT DELETE THE FILE U MIGHT THIN HAS IT OR SCAN UOR COMPUTER.
---------VIsta only or xp (i have no idea cant remeber----------
Yes the open up processes and start a new task explorer.exe works!
ty ily forever!!
Ok people it took me awhile to figure this out but to start a new process when your in processes tab go to new and it says something like new task. go there and yah it works :D
ctrl+alt+delete-->task manager-->file-->type "explorer.exe"-->everything shows up......^_^
I think this would help your problem...

1>there is no taskbar and icon and can`t righ click only the taskmanager....
ans= CTRL+ALT+DELETE: taskmanager would show up...
2>what will do next....
ans= go to shutdown... at the top...
ans=logoff owner...
4>system had log off... become blue screen and profile came out...
next> click the profile... and it will come back...

Sorry for some wrong grammar... im a filipino and im not using english always...
hope this help...
yan ang ginagawa ko ngaun..tae..bwisit nga eh
doesnt work for me
d gumana tol SP3 gamit ko ! shet nmn ano na gagawin ko now tol? n try ko na rin ung

1. Go to Run Like in Above
2. Now instead of typing "explorer" type in (or any other web address)
3. Your Default web browser should open. Now type in in the top "C:\" (without ") and your files should open. dont do anything yet
4. Now go Alt+Ctrl+Del and click on the tab "Processes" Find Explorer.exe in that list and click end process.
5. Now In Alt+Ctrl+Del click on the tab "Applications" and end your browser, Normally "Internet Explorer.exe"
6. Restart By going to Alt+Ctrl+Del and clicking "shut down" at the top.
7. This Refreshes your computer and maybe when you have finished restarting you can have your old pc back

wala talga nangyare e!^_^
It sounds like you have spy ware. The reason that nothing came up when you scanned your computer using McAfee is probably because YOU USED MCAFEE. To me McAfee is pure trash and shouldn't be used at all it's not too good on detecting Trojans and malicious software. I should know I used to use it. I advise that you go to SuperAntiSpyware and download the antispyware. That's what I did when I have the same problem. Oh and by the way whenever your icons or task-bar disappear just go to New Task>Click Drop Down Menu> Then click Explorer. I hope that sums it up for you.

There's the link for you ---->
Hey every1!!! I had the same problem a few days ago and I managed to fix it!

Please do as my step by step tutorial says!

1. Press ctrl+alt+delete

2.start Task manager

3.Press New Task

4. Now to get sure it will work browse and find windows/SYstem32.

5. Search or look for the cmd.exe that will be found in C:\Windows\System32

6. Open cmd.exe

7. The cmd program will automaticly show up C:\Windows\System32 and a little sybol like this, _ blinking.

8. Now type after C:\Windows\System32>explorer.exe

9.Now if you have done everything correct as this tutorial says it will work.

10. This issue is mostly occourd by some kind off virus. if you restart your computer some time later it may happen again. Then do exactly what you did before when you fixed it or read my tutorial again. Thanks. :P
hello guys,
well thanks to ppl they r trying to help up there, I tried every solution out there but didn't worked for me. I tried changing explorer to explorer1 n regedit thing didn't worked, tried malwarebytes didn't worked. So I just had last solution that was to just reinstall the windows..................but then before that I just did one thing I read someone saying that antivirus sometimes takes some windows files as virus n disables or deletes them.........................i am having KASPERSKY 2009 n had doubt it was creating problem to system so just removed it through control panel n rebooted n my whole desktop was back fully normal

For some it might be virus but for ppl whom the problem still persist with regedit n malwarebytes, got to be with their current antivirus n not the VUNDO.exe (in my case) cause I used every tool possible n wasn't there on my system. So just try to uninstall ur current antivirus n check !!!
Try this...
Right click on the desktop
Choose "view"
Show desktop icons
Maybe your Windows explorer was not responding. I also had this problem many times before. You can fix it by opening Task Manager by CTRL+ALT+DELETE then, click "New Task..." and type in explorer.exe
That should fix the problem.

Note: If you upgrade a previous version of Windows to Windows XP, and Show Desktop Icons was turned off in the previous Windows version, this setting is maintained, and user icons appear to be missing from the desktop. The Show Desktop Icons setting is ignored in previous versions of Windows if Active Desktop is turned off. In Windows XP, Active Desktop is always turned on and cannot be disabled.

To resolve this behavior, turn on the Show Desktop Icons feature:

1. Right-click the desktop.
2. Point to Arrange Icons By.
3. Click Show Desktop Icons.