How to Get Rid of Desktop.ini

by Tom Harrison in windows

Desktop.ini is a Windows XP system file that stores information about customized folders. If you have customized the display of a folder in any way, such as changing its icon or manner of display, Windows has saved those settings in a desktop.ini file.


I use Windows XP, and I see a file called Desktop.ini in a lot of my folders. What is that? How can I get rid of it?

In the following screenshot, I have right-clicked on a folder and am about to customize it.

Customizing a folder
Fig. 1 – Customizing a folder, which results in a desktop.ini file.

Since Desktop.ini is a Windows system file, you are probably seeing it because you have set Explorer to display hidden/system files. By reversing this setting, you can get rid of Desktop.ini.

  1. In any Windows Explorer window, click Tools → Folder Options…
  2. Click on the View tab.
  3. Check off the radio button next to “Do not show hidden files and folders”.
  4. Put a check in the box next to “Hide protected operating system files (recommended)”.
  5. Click OK.

Here is a picture of the settings I have just described:

Folder view settings
Fig. 2 – Changing Explorer’s “View” settings in order to hide Desktop.ini.

Once you have made these changes, Desktop.ini should be out of sight and out of mind. Here is a screen shot of the same folder from Figure 1. It’s still customized, but Desktop.ini is nowhere to be seen.

Out of sight, out of mind
Even though this folder contains a Desktop.ini file, it’s not seen in the file listing.