How to Remove Unused Icons From a Computer Screen

By Contributor

Updated May 07, 2020

Computer desktop icons can be convenient time-savers, allowing users to quickly access applications and frequently used files with one click. Unused or duplicate icons often clutter the desktop and result in more annoyance than convenience. Users can clean up the desktop by removing unused shortcut and file icons in a few steps.


Identify the unused shortcut icons on your computer desktop. A shortcuts is identified by a small arrow in the lower left corner. If you delete a shortcut, the file or program it represents remains on your computer and you can access it from another place in your computer, such as the Start Menu or your Documents or My Documents folder.

Unused icon on Windows desktop.

Right-click the shortcut icon and choose "Delete" from the menu, or press the Delete key to remove the icon from the desktop and send it to the Recycle Bin.

Deleting unused desktop icon.

Repeat steps one and two for each unused shortcut icon.

Restoring Icons and Files From the Recycle Bin

Double-click the "Recycle Bin" icon or right click the icon and choose "Open" from the menu.

Opening Recycle Bin on desktop.

Right-click the icon of the shortcut or file you wish to restore to the desktop.

Selecting deleted icon from Recycle Bin.

Choose "Undo Delete" from the menu, removing it from the Recycle Bin and returning it to the desktop.

Undoing delete of desktop icon.

Repeat steps one to three for each shortcut or file you wish to restore.


If you are sure you won't want back any of the items in the Recycle Bin, you can empty it by right clicking on the Recycle Bin and clicking "Empty."