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Q.  How do I restore the taskbar and desk top icons on XP that got delete/hid somewhere? Tried regedit/deleting the file. Even tried downloading some patches found on Ask Jeeves. Nothing worked but from searching this seems to be a common problem. I even tried to do a restore it won't let me go back but 4 days. When I boot on the folder with all icons showing comes up but not the desktop all that is on it is the wallpaper. Any ideas would be a big help.

A.  I have two possible theories here.  The first one is that you have deselected the option to "Show Desktop Icons".  To see if this is true, right-click anywhere on the desktop and hover your cursor over the "Arrange Icons By" option until a submenu pops up.  On this submenu, there is an option labeled "Show Desktop Icons", if there is not a checkmark next to this option, then click on the option.  This theory does not explain the missing taskbar, though.  Perhaps the taskbar has been resized to a thin strip at the bottom of the screen (actually, it may also have moved to the left, right, or top of the screen, too).

My second theory, if the first one doesn't work, is that your Explorer process crashed.  The Explorer process (not to be mistaken for Internet Explorer's process) is basically the heart of Windows, so Windows does not behave very well when that process dies.  I have seen exactly what you are describing (no taskbar, no icons, just wallpaper and a couple windows that were already open) when I have purposely killed the Explorer process (not recommended except in extreme circumstances).  If this is what happened, then the best way to recover is to reboot the machine completely (if the Explorer process crashed hard enough, you may need to just turn off the computer, wait 10 seconds, and then turn it back on).  However, it almost sounds as though you have done this.

If rebooting is not working, you can try to manually start the Explorer process.  Hit the Windows key (i.e. the key between the Ctrl and Alt keys on the left side of the keyboard) and R together.  A dialog box should pop up, when it does type "explorer" and hit enter.  If that doesn't work, let me know and we will look a little deeper.

Let me know if you need anything else.

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