How to restore default Windows shortcuts and their icons

In Windows 10, you can restore the operating system's old default shortcuts to your desktop, which is helpful if you need faster access to certain locations and settings. This should also make you smile if you're a fan of older versions of Windows. Furthermore, if the icons for these traditional shortcuts have been replaced, you can also restore them to their default look. This tutorial illustrates how to bring back default desktop icons, like Computer/This PC, Network, Control Panel, or your User's Files and how to revert their icons to their originals:

NOTE: The features presented are available in Windows 10 November 2019 Update or newer. If you're using an older version of Windows 10, you might not have access to all the features. Check your Windows 10 build and, if necessary, get the latest Windows 10 update available for you.

How to restore and show default desktop icons in Windows 10

Windows 10 comes with a default set of desktop icons that facilitate access to important locations and settings: This PC, Network, Control Panel, User's Files, and Recycle Bin. While in some classic versions of Windows, these standard shortcuts were displayed by default, in Windows 10, only the Recycle Bin is shown by default on the desktop. To restore some or all of these default Windows shortcuts to your desktop, read How to add or remove desktop icons (shortcuts) in Windows 10.

The standard desktop icons in Windows 10

If none of the standard shortcuts above are displayed on your desktop, they could be hidden from view. While we discussed How to view all hidden files and folders in Windows 10, things are different when it comes to desktop icons. Right-click or press-and-hold on an empty area of your desktop, and, then, in the contextual menu, access View. Click or tap on "Show desktop icons."

Show shortcuts on your desktop

All the desktop icons or shortcuts should become visible on your screen. To hide them again, follow the same steps, and then click or tap on the "Show desktop icons" option to uncheck it.

Hide shortcuts from your desktop

How to restore the default icons for the standard shortcuts

If the icons for your standard default shortcuts have been replaced, you can always restore them to default from the "Desktop Icon Settings."

To begin, right-click or press-and-hold on an empty area on your desktop. Then click or tap on Personalize.

Press Personalize

In the Personalization settings window, select the Themes tab from the column on the left.

Click or tap on Themes

Scroll to the bottom of the Themes tab, and then click or tap on "Desktop icon settings," under Related Settings.

Access Desktop icon settings

TIP: You can access the same location by first opening Settings, and going to "Personalization -> Themes -> Desktop icon settings" afterward.

In the "Desktop Icon Settings" window, you see all the icons currently used by the default shortcuts. We illustrated how to customize them with icons of your choosing in How to change the icon of any shortcut in Windows 10, where we replaced the icon for This PC with our website's logo. Now let's see how to restore the default icon for that shortcut.

Start by selecting the icon you want to restore from the ones displayed in the "Desktop Icon Settings" window - in our case, This PC.

Select the icon from the highlighted area

Click or tap the Restore Default button.

Press on Restore Default

The icon instantly reverts to the default one. Once the default icon for the shortcut is restored, click or tap OK or Apply to save your changes.

Confirm your choice by pressing OK or Apply

To prevent Windows 10 themes from changing the icons shown for your default shortcuts in the future, uncheck the box next to the "Allow themes to change desktop icons" option by clicking or tapping on it.

Make sure the option is unchecked to avoid changes to the icons

TIP: The icon used by the Control Panel is not included in the "Desktop Icon Settings" window, because the process for changing it is a bit different, as illustrated in this tutorial. The easiest way to restore it to its default icon is to delete the Control Panel shortcut from your desktop and then add it again.

Bonus: Restore the classic name for This PC

If you are really into older versions of Windows, you might want to change the name of the standard desktop icon This PC to match the one in your favorite version. The process is simple. Right-click or press-and-hold on the shortcut to bring out a contextual menu, and then click or tap on Rename.

Select rename from the contextual menu

Insert the new name and press Enter on your keyboard. Windows 10 instantly displays the new name all throughout the system.

The new name replaces the old one in File explorer

What other classic Windows elements do you miss?

We were thrilled to see the option to restore the default shortcuts in Windows 10, as we find them useful, and we missed having them around. We wish other classic elements, like the Homegroup, would also become available in Windows 10. What about you? Do you also get nostalgic about previous Windows versions? What elements do you miss in Windows 10? Leave us a comment below with the feature you miss the most.

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