Explorer showing multiple desktops?

Windows XP has a bug in it, one that has bugged me for ages but is under the “can be tolerated” category. I’ve looked for a fix before but couldn’t find anything, mainly because it’s hard to describe within search terms (note to Google: how about searches based on uploaded screenshots??).

The problem occurs when you open Windows Explorer and start browsing folders. The tree on the left starts to show additional items named “Desktop” but, when you click on them they are actually items that are on your Desktop.. it’s a little weird and after a while you can end up with multiple “Desktops items at the top (and middle) of the tree on the left.

This will only happen if you have the “Desktop” Toolbar added to your taskbar. (Right-click the big blue bar, select Toolbars and you’ll see “Desktop” as an option).

So, to stop this happening, you need to turn OFF that Toolbar. Simple. Annoying but simple.

I am only posting this here as I’ve only ever seen this discussed (and fixed!) in one place, so a little link love goes out to the Tech Support Guy forums where they solved this problem, and suggested a workaround for those who like having that Desktop Toolbar available:

You can get around this by making the toolbar point to the Desktop but using c:Documents and Settings > (Profile name) > Desktop. You don’t see the My Computer and IE icons in the list, but everything else shows up, and you won’t have the multiple Desktops bug bothering you.

Ain’t the internets wonderful.


  1. mum said:

    Thanks for that, now I know what to do. It’s so complicated this system – click on Desktop and you get items on your Desktop. I mean how confusing is that?
    I’m off to press my start button as I want to finish.

    March 28, 2008
  2. Lyle said:

    I can honestly say I’ve never used the Desktop toolbar in *cough* years of using Windows systems.

    What does it do? What’s so special about it?

    March 29, 2008
  3. Lyle said:

    *checks to have a look*

    Ah, feck that. I’ll stick with just minimising all, and using – um – the Desktop. Simple. (Or even just swap between “all open windows” and “minimise all” by using Windows+D)

    March 29, 2008
  4. Steve said:

    Thanks for posting this info.

    This one has mildly irritated me for a while too, and it finally got too much for me this morning. I got lucky with my Google search terms and found your page straight away.

    This workaround does the trick nicely – I have no use for the IE, My Computer, etc. links the default one has anyway. I just want it for quick access to my Briefcase and current project folders, which happen to live on the desktop.

    June 11, 2008
  5. Todd said:

    Great tip. Thanks. If you wonder how to make the toolbar point to somewhere else, you can do it by creating a new toolbar and browsing to the Desktop as described above. Now if only I could change the word “Desktop” to something else, or remove it entirely.

    January 29, 2009

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