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Group and local policy settings enable users and
administrators to control the way the computer functions and appears, including
which items appear on the desktop. Application of group or local policy can
sometimes be the cause of unexpected changes to the desktop, such as the
disappearance of all icons.

If all icons on a desktop are missing and group or local
policy does not seem to be the cause, check the computer’s Active Desktop
settings. If Active Desktop is enabled but no active content is selected for
display, the desktop will be blank. To redisplay the default desktop icons,
right-click the desktop, choose Active Desktop, and click Show Web Content if
there is a check beside the command. Turning off Active Desktop in this way
should cause the default desktop icons to reappear.

To configure additional Active Desktop properties,
right-click the desktop and choose Properties, and then click the Web tab. This
is where you can enable/disable Active Desktop content and add or remove active