What is a Desktop.ini File?

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 25, 2017)

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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