What is a Desktop.ini File?

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 22, 2021)

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When you turn on the display of hidden files on your system, one of the files you may see over and over again is called Desktop.ini. This file is used to hold customization information for the folder in which it is stored. The customization information controls how that particular folder is displayed by Windows.

You may also see one (or more) Desktop.ini files on your actual desktop. These are no different than ones you may see in other folders as your browse around. The reason they are visible on your desktop (besides the fact that you've turned on the display of hidden files) is that the desktop, to Windows, is nothing more than another folder.

You can, if you desire, delete any Desktop.ini files you see. Doing so won't "break" Windows in any way. The only thing it will do is return the display of that particular folder to its default. If you are unsure of how that will change the appearance of the folder, just rename the Desktop.ini file to something else (just change the file extension, if you want) and restart Windows. If you are fine with how the folder looks when you view it, then delete the file.

 This tip (13305) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is three less than 3?

2021-05-13 23:14:20

John

When you rename folders from within search results, the folder doesn't really get renamed. Instead, a desktop.ini file is created, which specifies the new name.
For all intents and purposes you may not notice that the folder hasn't really been renamed, and that it has a faux name. However, if the desktop.ini files are deleted, then the folder names will revert.
At this point, you may not notice that your folder names have all reverted. However, later when you go to find something, you will end up discovering this excellent feature, which Microsoft, in it's infinite wisdom, decided would be for everybody's best interest.
So, this is another effect of deleting desktop.ini files and should be taken into account, particularly if you are someone who manages their folders through searching and renaming.


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