You want to delete "undeletable" desktop icons such as the Recycle Bin, Outlook, and Internet Explorer, but you can't delete them by highlighting them and pressing the Delete key. Unnecessary desktop icons take up screen real estate, clutter the interface, and use system RAM.

Using the Registry

1. Open the Registry Editor and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Desktop\ NameSpace. Here's where you'll find various special desktop icons, such as the Recycle Bin. They're not listed by name, but instead by class ID (CLSID), a unique identifier, such as {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E} for the Recycle Bin.

2. Find the CLSID of the desktop icon you want to delete.

Here are the CLSIDs for desktop objects

My Computer - {20D04FE0-3AEA-1069-A2D8-08002B30309D}

Recycle Bin - {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E}

Microsoft Outlook - {00020D75-0000-0000-C000-000000000046}

Internet Explorer - {FBF23B42-E3F0-101B-8488-00AA003E56F8}

The Internet - {3DC7A020-0ACD-11CF-A9BB-00AA004AE837}

My Network Places - {208D2C60-3AEA-1069-A2D7-08002B30309D}

Briefcase - {85BBD920-42A0-1069-A2E4-08002B30309D}

Dial-Up Networking - {992CFFA0-F557-101A-88EC-00DD010CCC48}

America Online - {955B7B84-5308-419c-8ED8-0B9CA3C56985}

3. Delete the key of the icon that you want gone from the desktop, such as {645FF040-5081-101B-9F08-00AA002F954E} for the Recycle Bin.

4. Exit the Registry, go to your desktop, and hit F5 to refresh the screen. The icon should now be gone.

5. On some systems, the icons may not be immediately deleted. Instead, after making the Registry change, you might have to right-click on the icon and choose Delete.

6. If you want to restore the icon, re-create the key that you deleted.

Using downloadable software

TweakUI, one of a suite of free, unsupported utilities from Microsoft called PowerToys for Windows XP, can also hide these undeletable icons. Get it from

After you install it and run it, go to the Desktop section, and you'll see a list of icons that can't otherwise be deleted. Uncheck the box next to any that you don't want to show up on your desktop, and click on OK. The icons will be immediately removed. To make them appear again, check the box next to them.

Note:Some CLSIDs that you'll find in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\Curr entVersion\Explorer\Desktop\NameSpace can be deleted from the desktop without having to edit the Registry, but when you try to delete them, they may give you a special warning message. For example, depending on your system, when you try to delete Microsoft Outlook from the desktop, you get the warning message "The Outlook Desktop icon provides special functionality and we recommend that you do not remove it." If you'd like, you can edit that message so that it displays whatever you want. In the CLSID's subkey, for example {00020D75-0000-0000-C000-000000000046} for Microsoft Outlook, you'll find the value Removal Message. Edit its value to whatever text you want, save it, and whenever someone tries to delete it, your warning message will appear.

Also, keep in mind that when you remove desktop icons, you're only removing icons, not the underlying feature or program. So, for example, the Recycle Bin still works even if you remove its icon. To open the Recycle Bin, go to C:\RECYCLER and open the folder inside it. To restore an item that's been deleted, right-click on it and choose Properties Restore. You can delete items from the folder as you would any other item.