no desktop icons & right-click on desktop does not work

Posted on 2006-06-23
Last Modified: 2012-05-05
This is a variation on a theme I have seen in several places, but still different.

Preface: I usually have only 3-6 icons on my desktop, and I hardly ever use them; otherwise I might have noticed more immediately.

Sometime in the last 2-4 weeks, it has come to be that:
(a) There are not icons visible on the desktop.
(b) When I right-click on the desktop to get the menu about organizing icons and changing the display, nothing at all happens.
(c) If I try to drag an icon from the task bar or the START menu to the desktop, the cursor displays as the circle-and-slash "cannot do this" icon, and it appears that nothing happens. But see note (3) below.

(1) This only happens in my account on this machine; the other 3 users' desktops work just fine.
(2) Context menus in Windows Explorer and in all other apps look and behave just fine.
(3) If I make the "Desktop" toolbar visible in the Taskbar, the icons are all there after all, including ones I recently dragged (but *apparently* failed) to the desktop.

I have downloaded and used ShellExView, but could not find anthing amiss.

One person suggested it was a problem with:
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT \ Directory \ Background \ shellex \ ContextMenuHandlers
However, I checked that, and the only entry besides "New" was the one for "InCDMenu", which I've been using for months and months.

This is WinXP Pro w/ SP2, which has been running successfully on an Intel P2 or P3 for over a year.
Only thing that's really new is the monitor.

Need further information?
Any ideas, recommendations, etc?

-- Kenn
Question by:dortmunder
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Assisted Solution

by:Ric Tutero
Ric Tutero earned 20 total points
ID: 16973263
You can system restore to a date prior to that or since the right-click does not work, go to control panel > display & check if web-related items are enabled on the desktop & make sure they are not.
LVL 70

Accepted Solution

Merete earned 65 total points
ID: 16973507
Hi Kenn, try running a system file checker at start run type in cmd press enter then type in sfc /scannow
you'll probably need the xpcd.
The fact it only happens in your account may be your account is corrupted.
You could create a new account. Go to control panel User account new account.
How to copy data from a corrupted user profile to a new profile
It maybe spyware as this happens too form spyware.
Please download HijackThis 1.99.1 and save it into its own folder.
Just choose your country

Open Hijackthis, click  scan and save a logfile" donot fix" to the desktop or
then navigate to the hijackthis folder and copy out the log file
 contents and paste the log here into the small windows or panel>> 
look directly below the panel or window see the small analyze

once you hit analyze it will analyse it immediately
you will know by the fact the panel is now empty
just scroll down below this now empty panel and you can see your analysed log,
right at the bootm below yoru analyzed log is the option to save it.
Please click on this save it.
Copy this address/url and paste it here.

Run a disc cleanup at start all programs accessories system tools.
If F-Nimda tool is terminated by a user or operating system while
it is scanning a hard disk, there will be no icons and no taskbar
on Windows desktop. To fix the problem you will have to run the

You can execute this file on an affected NT-based systems
(Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP) from Task Manager.
Please follow these instructions:


2. Select 'Task Manager'

3. Select 'File' menu

4. Select 'New Task'

5. In the opened dialog window input the path to the SHELLFIX.REG
file, for example if the file is on a diskette, input
'A:\SHELLFIX.REG' (without quotes) and press 'Enter'

6. Windows will ask you if you want to add information from the
REG file to the Registry, answer 'Yes'

7. Restart your system and the problem will be solved.

Download the fix...

install tweakui and use it to repair the icons cache

Ok thats all I can think of for now unless you have created shortcuts to system files or some such.
Lets us know if any help or you need more.

LVL 23

Assisted Solution

phototropic earned 20 total points
ID: 16974437
What happens if you right click a program from the "all programs" list, then select "send to", and then click on "desktop (create shortcut)"?
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LVL 14

Assisted Solution

FriarTuk earned 20 total points
ID: 16974978
are you using active desktop? sounds like your user profile is corrupted.

Author Comment

ID: 16975703
OOF!  From near to far, what a lot of answers there are!

> Comment from davybrator7
> Date: 06/23/2006 04:10PM PDT

> You can system restore to a date prior to that

I thought *sure* the system was creating restore points,
but when I ran the backup/restore program, it did not
find any.

> go to control panel -> display & check if web-related
> items are enabled on the desktop & make sure they are
> not.

They were not.

> Comment from Merete
> Date: 06/23/2006 05:21PM PDT

> Hi Kenn, try running a system file checker at start run
> type in cmd press enter then type in sfc /scannow

I had gotten as far as doing that, actually.
If I recall correctly, it didn't find anything specific.
So I ran CHKDSK (with no options).
It found some errors, and said I should run it with a
specific option in order to actually fix them.  I made
a note to do this, but didn't want to do it until I had
made a current backup.

> you'll probably need the xpcd.

Could you explain what this is?

> The fact it only happens in your account may be your
> account is corrupted.  You could create a new account.
> Go to control panel User account new account.  How to
> copy data from a corrupted user profile to a new profile

Good info!  I'll look into that.

> It maybe spyware as this happens to form spyware.
> Please download HijackThis 1.99.1 and save it into its
> own folder.  Just choose your country

I run Webroot Spysweeper *and* Spybot S+D *daily* (at
separate times!), so it didn't occur to me that this might
be the problem.

> (. . .)

Hijackthis is *definitely* one cool tool.

> Run a disc cleanup at start all programs accessories
> system tools.

Good point.  At least that's harmless.
(I just didn't want to defrag until, as before, I had
made an up-to-date backup.)

> If F-Nimda tool is terminated (. . .)

Interesting news!
But I haven't run F-Nimda in a couple of years.

> [shellfix] (. . .)

Hunh.  I'd never heard of that one before.  Thanks!
I'll look into it.

> Onstall tweakui and use it to repair the icons cache

Too late -- already did that.  (Didn't help.)

> Comment from phototropic
> Date: 06/24/2006 12:53AM PDT

> What happens if you right click a program from the "all
> programs" list, then select "send to", and then click on
> "desktop (create shortcut)"?

Ah, I forgot to mention that.
That didn't work either.
That is, nothing appeared on the desktop,
although the shortcut *did* appear in the Desktop toolbar
in the Taskbar.

> Comment from FriarTuk
> Date: 06/24/2006 04:43AM PDT

> are you using active desktop?


> sounds like your user profile is corrupted.

Sounds likely.  Several people have suggested this.


We had thunderstorms last night, so I shut down Windows
properly and then turned everything *OFF* at the power
strip.  Woke up this a.m., my son had already turned it
back on, and when I logged into my account, POOF --
everything was back to normal!  All the icons were on
the desktop, including those that I had added by dragging
(and SENDing) to it since the problem began, and right-click
works again.

So now I feel utterly foolish.
Furthermore, I never got a chance to try anyone's suggestions.
I see I can split the points, so I guess I'll do that.

-- Kenn
LVL 70

Expert Comment

ID: 16976839
lol yes often times rebooting fixes things. Well that is good to hear Kenn. At least you now have some new ideas.

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