Windows Desktop and Taskbar are Missing from Windows 10–How To Locate


In Windows 10, there is a new and improved feature to allow the user to seamless switch from Tablet mode and Desktop mode. This is to support the bridging and gap between the new Start menu and the, now old, Start menu from Windows 8.1. Windows 10 suppose to know and be able to detect when your machine is in Tablet mode and when it is in Desktop mode. To check which mode you are on you can open the notification tray and check the status from the bottom of the screen.

Sometimes Windows get confused between when to enable/disable Tablet mode

Perhaps, when Windows 10 is fully released issues like this will no longer occur. But personally, I’ve encountered this a number of times, where for no obvious reasons it would switch to Tablet mode on a dedicated Desktop machine. At first, I wasn’t sure what to do, since the Start menu is the only thing showing on the entire screen. Unable to access my Desktop and all the Taskbar’s icon are missing. It puts me into panic mode where I thought my Windows 10 is frozen in a weird state, without investigating further I often restart my machine.


What really happened is the Tablet mode has switched on for no apparent reason. Why it was toggled on I’m still puzzling, but you can ensure this doesn’t occur in the future by going to Settings > Tablet Mode. Ensure that it always take you to the desktop and when to switch modes, ensure to prompt for confirmation. You can disable “Hide app icons on the Taskbar when in Tablet Mode” so you can still access the applications you’ve pinned to the Taskbar.


You can always check and disable “Tablet mode” from the new Notification menu.


Next time when this full-screen Windows Start menu showing again, no need to panic. Your desktop is still there, and your missing Taskbar is still there. Just need to calm down and disable the Tablet mode.


A few times when this occurred my desktop auto-switched to Tablet mode for no reason and without permission Windows desktop expanded to the second monitor or switch between main displays from the Display configuration. If you too encounter such issue with your Windows 10, this is the way to fix it and bring your desktop glory back.


  1. If this doesn’t end up fixing the problem, it could be that explorer.exe has crashed. Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to bring up the Task Manager. Verify that explorer.exe is not running. Go to File > Run New Task. Enter explorer.exe and check the box to run with admin privileges. Should be good as new!

    • That’s possible but if Explorer crashes you shouldn’t have start menu icon or time displayed either . Anyways that has always been my experiences.

    • I just ran into this as well. In my case, I think I did something (keyboard shortcut) that made the whole screen go black which looks like an explorer.exe crash. However, I restarted and it was still a blank screen. I would have expected explorer.exe to recover on it’s own after restart especially since I didn’t make any changes. It was like I accidentally hit a keyboard shortcut that enabled tablet mode and starting explorer.exe kicked it out of tablet mode. Anyway, thanks for providing the task manager shortcut and solution.

  2. My Master’s isn’t in computer!! 🙁 Can only say that last Windows 10 update a few days ago, made it so that I have NO taskbar, NO Cortana, NO search box and…can only shut down or restart by right clicking on the start window bottom left side. Give a senior a break!

  3. Thank you so much! Man, I was really worried for a while there. I couldn’t find any help, either. This was exactly what I needed.

    • even i have experienced the same problem, ya, i was worried what i have done to my computer. after a antivirus malfunction i have rebooted the computer and then i have found that i cannot see any desktop for tablet mode.

  4. Thank-you so much! LOL I have a 6mo old and she likes to keep hitting my laptop lol I was so confused…and I am a tech savvy person! I just haven’t ever put it in this mode.


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