Why Are There Two Desktop.ini Files On My Desktop & What Do They Do?

If you've set Windows to display all the files on your computer, including those that are hidden and those that are protected by the operating system, you will notice on your Desktop two hidden Desktop.ini files. Why are there 2 files with the same name on your Desktop? How can that be? What purpose do they serve? In this article we will shed some light on this matter, so read on to find the answers you seek.

How Do You See The Two Hidden Desktop.ini Files?

The two Desktop.ini files aren't always visible and most Windows users never see them. However, if you've set Windows to display both hidden and protected files, they will show up on your Desktop.

If you don't know how to make Windows display these types of files, the appropriate settings are found in the Folder Options window of File Explorer or Windows Explorer.

In the Advanced settings section of the View tab, check "Show hidden files, folder, or drives" and uncheck "Hide protected operating system files". When done, click or tap OK.

When Windows is set to display these types of files, you'll find the two Desktop.ini files on your Desktop. You can see them below.

What Are The Two Desktop.ini Files?

A Desktop.ini file is a file that determines the way a folder is displayed by Windows. These files can be found in any folder, anywhere on your computer, as long as that folder has a custom appearance set for it. Desktop.ini files control things like the icon used for that folder and its localized name.

For example, if a certain folder has a custom icon set by you or by the operating system, that icon's path is stored in the Desktop.ini file of that folder. In the screenshot below, you can see an example of how a Desktop.ini file looks.

If you'd like to read more about customizing folders using Desktop.ini files, you can find some detailed instructions and explanations here: How to Customize Folders with Desktop.ini.

Why Are There Two Desktop.ini Files On My Desktop?

Why do we have two Desktop.ini files on our Desktop? To understand the answer, we should keep in mind the following:

  1. First, the Desktop is a folder that's unique to every user account. Only the current user or the administrator has access to that user's Desktop folder. This folder is located at the following path: "C:\Users\Your Username\Desktop".

  2. The Desktop displayed by Windows is a combination of your user's Desktop and the Public Desktop folder. The Public Desktop folder is used automatically by all the users on your computer. It is located in the folder "C:\Users\Public\Desktop" and it holds the items that are available on every user's standard Desktop.

You see two Desktop.ini files because your Desktop is a combination of two folders, each with its own Desktop.ini file: one for your user account and one for the Public Desktop.

Can I Delete The Desktop.ini Files On My Desktop?

Deleting the Desktop.ini files is not recommended even though it is not really harmful. The only thing they do is store some visual customization options and deleting them won't damage your Windows installation. The only consequence of this action is that the folder in which they are found will lose its custom appearance when it is displayed by Windows.

If you would rather not see Desktop.ini files anywhere on your computer, hide the system files that are protected by the operating system. To do that, enable the "Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)" setting in the Folder Options window.

Read this guide to learn how to do that: How To Improve Windows & File Explorer Using Folder Options.

Conclusion

Now we know what Desktop.ini files are and why there are two of them on our Desktop. After reading this guide, don't hesitate to share with us whether you want to keep them or not. What did you do with them? Did you delete them or did you prefer to hide them from view? Share your thoughts, questions or comments using the form below.