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Put Helpful Navigation Icons on the Desktop

The Microsoft Windows 8 Desktop is a bare thing. Here is exactly how to place useful navigation icons on it to make it easier.

Not long ago, Windows had a variety of useful navigation icons on the Desktop— icons that would send you straight to your user account folder, for example. Those days are long gone. But if you want, you can put them all back.

To make this done, right-click the Desktop and select Personalize→“Change desktop icons.” The Desktop Icon Settings screen appears (See image below).

Adding-icons-to-the-Desktop Put Helpful Navigation Icons on the Desktop

Adding icons to the Desktop

Here is exactly what you can display, and what each one does:


Opens the Computer folder, which shows all your hard drives, Network Locations, Favorites, Libraries, and more.

User’s Files

Opens the folder that contains folders with your personal files—Favorites, Downloads, My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, SkyDrive, and many others.

Hint: On the Desktop Icon Settings screen, the checkbox reads “User’s Files,” but on the Desktop, the folder has your user account name—“Fred Jones,” for example.


Displays all the computers and devices on your home network. If you have any media devices on your network, such as Sonos streaming media players or Windows Media Connect devices, they appear here as well. So will any servers and your network router. Windows show up, but not smartphones or any other tablets.

Remember: The Homegroup will not appear in the Network folder, even if you are a member of a Homegroup.

Recycle Bin

Normally, this is the only navigational icon to show up.

Control Panel

Launches the Microsoft Windows 8 Control Panel.

The-Network-folder Put Helpful Navigation Icons on the Desktop

The Network folder

Checkmark the boxes next to the icons you would like placed on the Desktop, then click OK. They’ll all appear down the left side of your screen (See image below).

The-new-navigational-items-now-on-the-Desktop Put Helpful Navigation Icons on the Desktop

The new navigational items, now on the Desktop

If you prefer them to be in different locations, just drag them. Be aware, though, that this arrangement might get lost when you change screen resolution or if the display driver unexpectedly shuts down. Hacking the Hack you are not stuck with the default icons for each one of the folders that you have just put on your Desktop. You can change any that you would like. On the Desktop Icon Setting screen, highlight any icon you want to change, choose Change Icon, and from the screen that appears, click the new icon you want to use, and then click OK.

Select-new-icon Put Helpful Navigation Icons on the Desktop

Selecting a new icon for a Desktop folder

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