Restore the Show Desktop Icon In Windows 7

Windows XP came with the Show Desktop icon, a component that many users got used to. It helped as a make easy tool for accessing the desktop while working on some other open window. On clicking on the icon, the window got minimized and the desktop appeared for easy access to the user.

However, Microsoft came up with a different alternative in Windows 7, one that is not as user friendly as it was in Windows XP. We’ll see why it is so and how we can fix this up.

The Alternative Way in Windows 7

To the extreme right bottom corner of the Windows 7 taskbar, just after the time and date indicator, is a small rectangular sectioned area whose function is not indicated unless you bring your mouse pointer over it. This area acts similarly as the Show Desktop icon in Windows XP. Clicking on the above specified area, minimizes all active open windows and brings up the desktop for easy access to the user. Clicking on it again, restores the open windows as they were before. While this is a good implementation, it gets overlooked easily, as the small section remains unlabeled and unused.

windows-7-system-tray

If you are more familiar and find it more easy to have a Show Desktop icon as in XP, you can always create one and use it in Windows 7 for easier access to your desktop.

Creating a Show Desktop Icon in Windows 7

Start by clicking on the Start menu and go to All Programs. Click on Accessories and then select Notepad.

windows-7-start-menu

A Notepad file opens. Copy and paste the following code in the Notepad file :

[Shell]
Command=2
IconFile=explorer.exe,3
[Taskbar]
Command=ToggleDesktop

Note: There should not be any space between the “comma” and “3” in the 3rd line of the code.

windows-7-notepad

Click on “File”  menu of the Notepad window and select “Save As…”. Save the Notepad file as “Show Desktop.scf” and select desktop as the location.

windows-7-notepad-save

A file named “Show Desktop.scf” appears on the desktop. Creating the file in Windows 7 is complete.

windows-7-show-desktop-icon

Now, leaving your created file on the desktop isn’t really going to help as you have to minimize every window to access it. For easy access you can either pin this file to the Start menu, or add it as a toolbar in the taskbar. To pin it to the Start menu just drag the file to the “Start” icon. Windows automatically pins it to the Start menu.

windows-7-pin-icon-start-menu

To add this file as a tool in the system tray

  • Create a folder in any location of your computer. Name it as Show Desktop.
  • Copy the file, you’ve created, “Show Desktop.scf”.
  • Right click on the taskbar and select Toolbar>New toolbar.
  • Select the created “Show Desktop.scf” file on the desktop to add it as a toolbar.

windows-7-system-tray-icon

Now you can easily access your desktop while working in an open window by either opening the Start menu and selecting Show Desktop, or by simply clicking on the Show Desktop icon in the toolbar. Users familiar with Windows XP will find this very user-friendly as it is easy to access your desktop now in Windows7.

Note: The created file must be saved with a “.scf” extension and not the default “.txt” one.

35 comments

  1. This is the trick I was looking for.
    I accidently deleted show desktop icon on my XP desktop and now I got it back

  2. This seems more difficult than just using the default corner button. I like the one that comes with and i don't see how this makes it easier, i mean, the shortcut you added is right next to the other one o>O

  3. It depends on preferences. The default is on the right, but most people are used to it on the left. This is just to restore it to the position that most people are used to.

  4. I created the file as you said, but when I drag it to the taskbar it doesn't pin, it disappears, although it shows up in the pinned objects list…what am I doing wrong?

  5. Ah… Windows 7 doesn't need the show desktop Icon. It is the little transparent bar on the right side of your task bar. (Or bottom if you put your task bar on the side.) And it's better than the old version because you now can hover and see your desktop without having to actually minimize the windows.

    I suggest actually learning about what's new in windows 7 before you stress out about these silly issues.

    • Its not intuitive and too far away to quickly mouse over, these types of utility commands can be used often and should be located in a relatively close area – near the start menu

    • I have a screen of 1920 px wide and have that little transparent bar on the far right and my icons on the left. Also I usually work with an additional monitor to extend the desktop and that little bar is difficult to catch because the mouse hovers into the extended desktop.

    • Silly or not, it’s a functionality issue. Why would you change it in the first place if it ain’t broke? It makes no sense to move it across to the other side and is typical Microsoft usability stupidity. 2nd – most people when they want to show desktop actually just want to GO there to open something. It’s not about just showing it so the hover is pointless.

  6. The desktop icon is for those who are used to the old Windows version. Plenty of people are just not used to the new transparent bar on the right side (including me) even though it is functionally better.

  7. There is an extremely easier way to get the desktop shortcut on your taskbar back and to get a shortcut bar on your taskbar! You dont have to create any new folders, everything is right there:

    1.) Right click on your taskbar, Go to ‘Toolbars’, Click on ‘New toolbar’

    2.) In the window that appears copy this file location into the bar, but change NAME to YOUR computer username: C:UsersNAMEAppDataRoamingMicrosoftInternet ExplorerQuick Launch

    3.) Now you have the quick launch bar! To make it fit in more, right click on the taskbar and uncheck ‘lock taskbar’. Then right click on the quick launch folder and uncheck show title and uncheck show text. Then right click on it again, go to ‘view’, then ‘large icons’. Now drag the quick launch bar to the other end of the taskbar. Looks perfect doesnt it!

    4.) If you would like to add anything to the taskbar right click open folder, and drag whatever you want to add into the folder and it will show up in your quick launch.

    • Helped me too. I preferred the small icon look to have more room for windows. But, after taking the steps to remove the title & text and unlock the taskbar, it took some playing around with before I was able to drag it to the other side (dragging it from the right to the left side). At first I tried to drag the toolbar to the right next to other taskbar shortcuts, but it just narrowed the space for open programs/windows on the taskbar. I had to extend the taskbar up so that there were two rows of taskbar space. Then I pulled the quick launch toolbar toward the bottom row of the taskbar on the left. Then I added the other taskbar shortcuts that remained on the top row to the quick launch toolbar, so that there was one row of shortcuts instead of two. Then I lowered the taskbar so that it was back to being one row instead of two… phew… 

      • Thanks a Lot Jasmine for helping me in creating the taskbar. And also Thanks to Sam as i was also facing the same issue as you. Your workaround works great. 

  8. When I did this, a pop-up appeared saying Windows doesn’t know how to open an .scf file, When I searched on the web, all I could find was sites saying it’s a Registry error, and oh, by the way, here’s a Registry fixer you can download!
    I had another Show Desktop app, but I lost it when I reinstalled Windows last week.

  9. Oops, it was my mistake. I copied-and-pasted the file name, but I accidentally copied the quotation marks too, and it was therefore part of the extension. After I fixed that, it works. Thank you!

  10. after i delete from my desktop, the shortcut doesn’t work, so that wasn’t very useful..please let me know what to do..????????

    • Save the “show desktop.scf” file somewhere where you can keep it. E.g. c:Windows folder. Then create a shortcut TO THAT file and place it where you like.

  11. Amazing!  And people, you can MOVE the buttons to the left side, resize them, show them with or without text, etc etc….. Way better than that tiny little strip of a bar in the bottom right.

  12. I shall use the ‘show desktop’ mystery bar now you’ve pointed it out. Never in a million years would I have found that myself! Thanks.

  13. Thanks man. Its a good remedy for me.

    c;\windowssystem32system , i am getting this erro in Winxp, Its asking for repair , but when insert Winxp cd, after some stpes its showing blue screen with error message chkdsk /f.

    i ran chkdsk /f successfully & still same error occured. Please help me out on this.

    email address: nhariharan@yahoo.co.in
    @yahoo:disqus 
    Thanks & Regards,
    Hari Haran.

  14. Something that seems to have been forgotten by Microsoft in all their wisdom, is that more people use Windows for work than for play.
    I am one of those people.  Having funky little things on the taskbar is all well and good, but when you cannot see the taskbar it is frustrating.  A full screen remote desktop session eliminates it completely.  The show_desktop.scf works perfectly as I store it on my secondary display.

  15. For those of use who use keyboard shortcuts, pressing the windows key, plus the D works just as well as trying to find an icon with a mouse.  :-)

  16. I tried it but not working. When I drag the desktop icon to the taskbar it turns into a folder that has my music, pictures, videos, documents icons. What am I doing wrong?

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