How to bring back legacy desktop icons on Windows 11

Windows 11 desktop icons
Windows 11 desktop icons (Image credit: Windows Central)

Although the Windows 11 desktop only comes with the Recycle Bin icon, it's still possible to bring back all the legacy system icons to the desktop, including Computer, User's Files, Network, and Control Panel, even though the Settings app is replacing it. You only need to know where to find them.

If you want a little more traditional look, Windows 11 continues to ship with the "Desktop Icon Settings" that lets you choose the icons you want to on the desktop and the option to change their icons to anything you like.

In this Windows 11 guide, we will walk you through the easy steps to bring back the legacy system icons to the desktop.

How to show legacy desktop icons on Windows 11

To bring back the legacy system icons to the desktop, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Personalization.
  3. Click the Themes page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Related settings" section, click the Desktop icon settings option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Check the icons to appear on the desktop:
    • Computer.
    • User's Files.
    • Network.
    • Recycle Bin.
    • Control Panel.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Apply button.
  2. Click the OK button.

Once you complete these steps, the icons will appear on the Windows 11 desktop.

Customize item's icon

You can also change the icon of each item using these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Personalization.
  3. Click the Themes page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Related settings" section, click the Desktop icon settings option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Select the icon.
  2. Click the Change Icon button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Choose the new icon.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the OK button.
  2. Click the Apply button.
  3. Click the OK button.

More Windows resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

2 Comments
  • What is the reason Recycle Bin is not part of the taskbar or system tray or even notification area and still an icon on the desktop by default in 2022?
  • You say that as if they used any brain power when designing the UX for Windows 11. Even the people that designed it knew it looked like a joke.