I can't CLICK on my desktop icons, and can't SEE them in Explorer (but can create new ones!) RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello there!  My desktop has gone WEIRD!!  I can't CLICK on my desktop icons, and I also can't SEE them in Windows Explorer!

    However, both on the desktop (by right-clicking) and in Explorer (e.g. File... New... etc.) I am able to create NEW stuff (e.g. a blank test folder) on the desktop, click on it, move it around, open it up, and so on.  But other than these new "test folders", all I can see in Explorer are the old original desktop icons that came when VISTA was first installed (e.g. icons for "Paul", "Public", "Computer", "Network", "Control Panel", "Recycle Bin", and "Internet Explorer").

    A couple of facts that may or may not be relevant:

    a) (red herring?) I've extended my desktop onto a second monitor; the second monitor displays an *extension* of the desktop, not simply a mirror image of what's on my laptop.

    NOTE: the ENTIRE desktop (both on my laptop and on the external monitor) is having this "can't click on anything" problem.

    b) (perhaps another red herring?) this problem may have been born at around the time I suggested to my son that he could probably tweak the system so that the external monitor wallpaper showed the same photo (of him playing guitar) that my notebook wallpaper was showing.  He changed *something* (I don't know exactly what he did, and neither, frankly, does he) so that the external monitor now shows a screenshot of the contents of notebook monitor (wallpaper plus the icons on top).  Not surprisingly, I can't click on these "wallpaper" icons on my external monitor - but of course I can click on the same icons on my notebook screen.

    Anyways, I've been able to create a "BANANAS" test folder through the Explorer interface, and I have been able to create a "BANANAS2" test folder by right-clicking on the desktop... I can open them up, move them around, etc. no problem.  But whatever was there BEFORE... I can't get at it!

    Right now all I can think of is thank GOD none of the paths to my critical data involve going through the Desktop.

    Do you have any idea what might be the problem here?  I will be sooooo grateful if you can help!

    Tuesday, March 17, 2009 4:37 PM



    Hi PRaBennett, I suggest you first try the following fix:


    The Windows desktop may stop updating correctly after a Windows Vista-based computer has been running for an extended period of time



    If the issue still occurs, let's try clean boot and see the result:


    1. Click Start, type "MSCONFIG" (without the quotations) in the Search Bar and Press "Enter" to start the System Configuration Utility.


    Note: Please click Continue if the "User Account Control" window pops up.


    2. Click the "Services" tab, check the "Hide All Microsoft Services" box and click "Disable All" (if it is not gray).

    3. Click the "Startup" tab, click "Disable All" and click "OK".

    4. Restart the computer and test the issue.


    Note: Clean Boot is a troubleshooting step. If some programs have been disabled, we can re-enable them later. If you see the System Configuration Utility, check the box of "Don't show this message" and then click "OK".


    Please test this issue in the Clean Boot environment. If the issue disappears, we can use a 50/50 approach to quickly narrow down which entry is causing the issue.

    Hope this helps!

    Sean Zhu - MSFT
    Thursday, March 19, 2009 7:47 AM