The desktop area of Windows operating system is often used to save frequently used files, shortcuts of favorite apps and classic desktop programs. Most PC users usually have tens of files and shortcuts on their Windows desktop.
By default, Windows 10 and earlier versions of Windows, arrange all icons on the desktop using medium icons view. That is, thumbnail of file (if thumbnails are enabled) or file type icon (for most files) appears with file name just below the file icon.
The default view of desktop icons helps us to easily recognize files and program shortcuts on the desktop. However, the default view might become an issue when you have hundreds of files on the desktop.
As you might have observed by now, the Windows 10 (and earlier versions) desktop doesn’t offer a way to change the default view of desktop icons. When you right-click on an empty spot on the desktop, Windows doesn’t show an option to change the view to list view or display view. The desktop right-click menu displays options to switch between small, medium and large icons view only.
Luckily, there is a way to change the default view of desktop icons in Windows 10, Windows 8 and Windows 7 with ease. And the best part is that you don’t need to download or install an after-market software.
Using these little-known keyboard shortcuts, you can change the desktop view to list, details, or content view in Windows 10 and earlier versions. In fact, you can switch between extra large icons, large icons, medium icons, small icons, list, details, tiles and content view using these keyboard shortcuts.
IMPORTANT: Starting with Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft seems to have disabled list, details, and content view in the desktop area. So, as of now, there is no way out there to enable list, details and content view for desktop icons in Windows 10 Creators Update (version 1703) and above versions.
Following are the ways to change the desktop icons view in Windows 10.
Change the size desktop icons
Changing the desktop icons size is quite easy. All you need to do is, hold down the Ctrl key and then scroll the mouse wheel up or down to increase or reduce icons size.
Switch between small, medium, large and extra large icons view
Use Ctrl + Shift + 1, Ctrl + Shift + 2, Ctrl + Shift + 3 and Ctrl + Shift + 4 keyboard shortcuts to switch to extra large icons, large icons, medium icons, and small icons view, respectively. As said before, you can use Ctrl + mouse wheel to switch between these views.
Change desktop icons view to list view
When you have hundreds of icons on the desktop, you can use the list view to see most of the files, if not all. To switch to the list view, use Ctrl + Shift + 5 keyboard shortcut. That is, simultaneously press Ctrl, Shift, and 5 keys.
Change desktop icons view to details view
To change to display view, use Ctrl + Shift + 6 keys.
Switch to tiles view
Use Ctrl + Shift + 7 keyboard shortcut to change desktop icons to tiles view.
Enable content view
Switch to the content view using Ctrl + Shift + 8 keyboard shortcut.
Restore the default medium icons view
To restore the default view, simply right-click on an empty spot on the desktop, click View, and then click Medium icons option.
Don’t forget to check out our how to change desktop icons in Windows 10 guide.