How to Delete Unwanted Desktop.ini Files

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The desktop.ini file is a hidden file that stores information about the layout of a Windows folder. Essentially, when the layout or settings of a folder are changed, a desktop.ini file is automatically created to record those changes.

Can it be deleted?

The desktop.ini file can technically be deleted from any directory, although this is not recommended. Note that the file stores the settings associated with the folder it is contained in, and deleting it will reset the settings to the defaults. For example, if you change the icon of a folder and then delete the desktop.ini file, the icon will revert back to what it was before.

Can I hide the desktop.ini?

You can and should hide it. There is nothing to see here. There is, but it needs to be fixed. Press Windows + S and type Files and click Show hidden files and folders. Scroll down under “Advanced Settings” and search for “Hide protected operating system files” (recommended) and make sure this option is checked. Click OK and close the window.

How to View Desktop .ini Files

If you are wondering whether or not you have these files on your system, it is easy to check. You need to enable hidden items.

  • Open the file explorer in any folder.
  • Go to the View tab.
  • Check the “Hidden objects” checkbox.
  • Go to the desktop and check for desktop.ini files. If you want to know what a desktop.ini file contains, you can open it in Notepad. You can easily change its contents, so be careful and don’t change anything if you don’t know what you’re doing.

How to Hide Desktop .ini Files

Removing .ini files from the desktop is not recommended, although it is not harmful. Since their only role is to store certain visual customization options, removing these files will not harm your Windows installation. The only consequence of this action is that your folder will lose its customized appearance when Windows displays it, but you can customize it again and the desktop.ini will reappear. If you prefer not to see desktop.ini files anywhere on your computer, it is best to hide system files that are protected by Windows.

If you enable the Hide protected operating system files (recommended) setting in the folder options, both desktop.ini files will also be hidden.

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a. Open Windows Explorer. (Windows logo key + e )
b. Click Organize, and then click Folder and Search Options.
c. Select the View tab.
d. Select the “Hide protected operating system files (recommended)” check box.

e. Clear the “Show hidden files, folders and drives” checkbox (step added in October 2016)

Desktop .ini files are visible longer on the desktop.

Stop Desktop .ini Files from being Created

If you no longer want these files to be created, you can do so by modifying the Windows registry.

  • Tap the Win+R keyboard shortcut to open the “Run” field.
  • Type “regedit” in the “Run” field and press “Enter”.
  • This opens the registry editor. Move to the next key.
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
  • Look for a DWORD value called UseDesktopIniCache. Double-click it and set its value to 0.
  • If the value does not exist, right-click the Explorer key, select New>DWORD (32-bit) value, and name it UseDesktopIniCache.
  • By default, the value should be set to 0.

You can now delete the desktop.ini files and they will no longer be created. You can still customize the display of folders.

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