Where is the 'Show Desktop' Icon in Windows 7 and up?

The show desktop icon isn't gone--it's just hiding

Windows 10 Show Desktop
Two ways to show the desktop in Windows 10.
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A question that dogs many XP users when they move to a newer version of Windows is "Where is the dang 'Show Desktop' Icon" in Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10. 

"Show Desktop" is a shortcut that many Windows XP users rely on via the Quick Launch toolbar. The purpose of Show Desktop is simple enough. It minimizes all open windows to make the desktop background visible. That way you can quickly grab a file or launch yet another program from the always useful desktop space in Windows.

In Windows 7, however, that icon--not to mention the entire Quick Launch toolbar--doesn't exist by default. What gives?

The answer is actually quite simple: Show Desktop is still around in Windows 7, but it's been redesigned and moved. In fact, if you didn't know it was there, it would be almost impossible to find. Adding insult to injury, the new Show Desktop icon is maddeningly easy to trigger by accident--you'll understand why in just a second.

The fact is the show desktop icon beginning with Windows 7 doesn't look like a regular program or feature icon at all. For that reason, it is essentially hidden. Instead of an obvious icon, the Show Desktop is now a small rectangle all the way on the right side of the Taskbar (highlighted in red in the picture above). 

Microsoft has also added more functionality to the feature. In Windows XP, Show Desktop would only do one thing. You clicked on the icon in the Quick Launch toolbar, and all your windows were minimized so you could get to the desktop.

In Windows 7, you can just hover over the icon without clicking it to get an "Aero Peek" quick view of the desktop. In Windows 10, when you have tons of different program windows open, Microsoft adds a helpful reminder that you are in peek mode by leaving the outline of all open windows in place. The end result is that it's kind of like you're looking at the desktop through an opaque window.

 

Move your mouse off the icon, and the open windows pop right back into their original spots. For a more permanent solution, click the Show Desktop icon. Then all open windows will be minimized, just as they were with the old Show Desktop icon in XP.

Grab whatever you need from your desktop, click the Show Desktop icon again, and your open windows will return once again to their original spots.

If you don't like using the show desktop icon in Windows--or you just have a hard time remembering where the show desktop icon is-- there's another alternative: keyboard shortcuts. Instead of tapping your mouse, just tap a special key combination on your keyboard. In Windows 7 and Windows 10 tap the Windows Key D, while Windows 8 and 8.1 users must tap Windows Key M.

If that wasn't enough, Windows 10 users also have a third option for showing the desktop. Right-click on the taskbar, and in the context menu that appears to select the option called Show the desktop (also pictured above and highlighted in red). Click that and it's just like clicking the Show Desktop icon. 

Once you're ready to bring back your windows right-click the taskbar again. This time choose Show open windows and you're back in business.

You can even use these two options in combination such as right-clicking the taskbar to show the desktop and then clicking the Show Desktop icon on the far right to bring the windows back. 

If you've never used the feature before, Show Desktop is a handy option to know about when you're working hard and need to get to the desktop as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Back to the Quick Guide to the Windows 7 desktop

Updated by Ian Paul.