No icons on desktop, can’t right click [FIX]

After being infected with malware (Windows XP Pro SP3), I scanned this hard drive from another computer, cleaned the MBR trojan with TDSSKiller, but there were no icons on the Desktop anymore and I couldn’t right-click on the Desktop, although the Start Menu works just fine.

Here is what I found:

Click Start > Run > regedit to get here. Then go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer

Notice the key “NoDesktop” set to 1. Right-click on “NoDesktop” and delete it and restart. There may be other keys in the “Policies” section that you should review, also.

[UPDATE 2/15/12 : Here is a support page from ESET that has a utility that might fix this easily. If you try it, please comment.]

12 replies
  1. Mikacom says:

    Many thanks Brian, this happened to one of my clients, and was only restricted to one profile. Your fix worked perfectly!

  2. Smartin says:

    Been dealing with this problem for several months – opened up regedit, and sure enough there was a NoDesktop registry entry.

    Thank you so much!

  3. KirkW says:

    Well, this fix brought a satisfying close to two days of malware cleanup. Now I can return a fully-functional laptop to the CFO*. Thanks for finding and posting this.

    * And no, he’s not your typical PHB – he actually knows his way around a keyboard and is one of the “good guys”.

  4. happy user! says:

    Many thanks! I just spent an hour getting rid of System Check, but the stupid desktop would not cooperate! Glad I found this!

  5. Ted says:

    Brilliant!!! Thank you sir! worked awesome for me!! MANY thanks! saved me from having to rebuild a Senior VP’s laptop overnight!!!

  6. scotru says:

    Thanks for this! In my case malware also changed some other keys. I used information from your site in combination with this site:

    to fix. Here’s the relevant info:

    “There are keys in the registry that can hide the desktop and disable right-clicking. In my case, the keys the virus used to do that were HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\HideDesktopIcons\ClassicStartMenu And also NewStartPanel just below it. I also found these same keys under HKLM\software. (Just go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE instead of HKEY_CURRENT_USER).
    The values were set to 1; you need to set them to 0. When the computer was rebooted all was Ok. “

  7. Steven says:

    Couldn’t do the registry edit due to the fact that my Run option was not available in the Start menu or in the customization of the Start menu. Windows-R didn’t work either.

    The Hidden Remover Tool did the trick perfectly. desktop is now showing icons and can right-click and my Windows-R works as well as showing in the start menu now. Thanks!

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