Lost your Vista taskbar and desktop icons?

September 10, 2008

I installed a Trend antivirus update and had to restart the computer. After logging in, I had lost my Vista taskbar and icons! The trick for restoring it is similar to that for Windows XP, but with an extra step (#2).

  1. Open Task Manager (press Ctrl+Alt+Del, then click Task Manager).
  2. On the Processes tab, find and kill any explorer.exe processes.
  3. On the Applications tab, click New Task at the bottom right of the window.
  4. Type explorer.exe, then click OK.

If nothing sinister caused it to disappear, it should all come back as it was and you can stop panicking, breathe a sigh of relief, and continue working.

Update for Windows 7 (January 2014): When I lost my taskbar and desktop icons in Windows 7, I pressed Ctrl+Alt+Del. After a short time, I got the option to select Open Task Manager. Once I clicked on Open Task Manager, all my desktop came back again without me doing anything else. I still don’t know what’s causing this.


  1. Thanks. It worked like a charm! What causes this to happen, though? I’ve had it happen twice now! Usually I can figure out what’s going on without any help.

  2. Thanks for the tip – very confusing, but all OK now. Cheers

  3. Wow, great! You saved my day and plenty of nerves. I left the computer for a coffee and when I came back the taskbar was gone. After trying all the usual, I still couldn’t find it. Thanks for your help :)

  4. Perfect! Thanks for your help. Worked great.

  5. Echo thanks

  6. Wonderful – works as promised.
    Only problem is that when I retsart the system the Vista taskbar & desktop icons disappear again and I have to go through the proceedure each time.
    Any suggestions ??

  7. panic over, worked straight away, many thanks

    note to self – don’t clean keyboard when computer is on.

  8. LOL! Yep, that’s a trap!

  9. I tried everything that anyone ever wrote on the subject having lost network and volume icons, none of the worked. My resolution was to go back through ‘system restore’ a couple of day to when I knew they were there and that restored them fine. My Operating System is Vista

  10. Didn’t work. Any other ideas? I’ve rebooted the system and viewed tasks from all users.

  11. Never mind. Got it. Just had to drag it back on the screen. Go figure!


  12. Thank you. I was lost till I read this and you don’t know how much I appreciate it.

  13. […] a missing taskbar/desktop when Windows Explorer had closed incorrectly and taken them out (see https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2008/09/10/lost-your-vista-taskbar-and-desktop-icons/). Those instructions still work, as I discovered when this happened on my DH’s computer […]

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