How can I persuade Windows Server 2012 onwards to put the "This PC" icon on the Desktop?

In Server 2008 it could be achieved through right-clicking the "Computer" icon in the Start Menu, or it can be done in the Control Panel through Personalisation -> Desktop Icons, if available.

But Personalisation requires the Desktop Experience feature to be installed in Windows Server editions, and the "This PC" tile on the Start Screen doesn't offer the Show on Desktop option.


As https://community.spiceworks.com/how_to/71900-show-my-computer-on-server-2012-desktop points out, the Desktop Icon Settings dialog is still available, and can be accessed through a rundll32 command:

rundll32 shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL desk.cpl,,0

Run rundll32 shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL desk.cpl,,0

This makes it possible to add back the usual array of Desktop icons, including This PC, the user's profile folder, etc.

Desktop Icon Settings

EDIT: https://www.tenforums.com/tutorials/6942-add-remove-default-desktop-icons-windows-10-a.html mentions that you can also just run desk.cpl ,5, which is much more memorable.

Either option works for me, doing quick tests in 2012R2 and Windows 10 (1903 and 2004). Note that if you're running in PowerShell, it doesn't like the parameter starting with a comma, but you can use desk.cpl 0,5 instead.


you can add the icons you want

  • go to Add Rule or Feature
  • press next without selecting anything till you get to the features dialog

  • select 'Desktop Experience' feature and install it (you will find it under 'user interfaces and infrastructure' )

  • restart your windows server
  • after restart right click on your desktop and choose 'Personalize' then select 'Change desktop icons'
  • add icons you want

  • 1
    The only real problem with this method is that it tends not to be convenient to restart an instance of Windows Server.
    – mwfearnley
    Feb 3 '17 at 7:04
  • 1
    Also, you are adding the whole "Desktop Experience" feature, which includes several things you might not want on a server.
    – Massimo
    Aug 5 '20 at 10:20

Use the classical way that exists since long before there were dialogs to show or hide desktop icons:

  1. Create a new shortcut on the desktop

  2. For the target, enter:

    explorer.exe shell:::{20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}
  3. Give it any name you want, for example This PC

  4. Click on Finish

You can easily place this on the default desktop for all users or deploy it with scripts or group policies.

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