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Changing display options in Windows Explorer can occasionally have unintended side effects, such as changing the way that your desktop looks.
All of a sudden my desktop has two icons that I never sent there. Both are called desktop.ini. When I try to delete one of these shortcuts, a message appears, saying, "If you remove this file, Windows or another program may no longer work correctly." I've been looking at my desktop every day. The date was modified on the file back about the 21st of July and I am writing you on August 2nd. The only things that I've done differently today are: 1) to change my desktop display to Windows 7 (the plain one, without aero peek outlines) and 2.) to take Leo's advice about "Folder Options" in terms of checking or unchecking items. I also notice that after I changed by folder options (including the one not to hide any hidden folders), some of these new ones say "Access denied" when I click them. Could you provide any explanation for these things?
I can. Those files are displayed because you followed my advice.
Let's take a look at why that is, what I do, and what you might like to do if it bothers you.
As you can see in the image to the right, I have two desktop.ini files on my desktop as well.
This is a direct result of having checked the Windows Explorer option to show hidden files folders and drives.
What most people don't realize is that Windows Explorer is more than just a file viewing application. Windows Explorer is the program that is responsible for displaying the taskbar at the bottom of the screen, acting on your clicks to start or switch to programs, and it's the program responsible for displaying the desktop.
What that means is that the options that you specify for using Windows Explorer to view files apply equally well to Windows Explorer as it displays the desktop. To Windows Explorer, the desktop is just another folder to be displayed in another way.
So why are there two desktop.ini files?
In reality, the Windows desktop is a kind of hybrid which is constructed at display time using the contents of two separate folders:
The first, C:\Users\username\Desktop, where username is replaced with your Windows login ID, is your desktop. By that, I mean that it contains the desktop items that are unique to your login ID. In most cases, that pretty much means everything on your desktop.
The second, C:\Users\Public\Desktop, is a special folder where desktop items that should be displayed for all users are placed. For example, if an application shortcut was required for any user that logged into this machine, one might place it in this folder instead of the per user desktop folder.
When Windows Explorer displays your desktop, it takes the contents of both of these folders and puts them together into a single display. If they contain duplicate items, then you will see two of the same item on your desktop.
And, of course, both folders have a desktop.ini file, which is nothing more than a configuration file that contains some information about how your desktop should be displayed. (You can right-click on each desktop.ini icon and select Properties to see where the file is physically located.)
It's not surprising that you would get "permission denied" trying to manipulate one of the desktop.ini files. The copy in the public folder is likely to require administrative access in order to be modified. And as I've discussed in another article, even though you may be logged in to an account with administrative privileges, that doesn't mean that you actually have the administrative privileges at the time that you're trying to do something.
Your options on how to handle this are actually somewhat limited.
As you can see from my example above, I elected to simply live with it. I keep a fairly clean desktop and the two copies of desktop.ini don't really bother me that much.
Your other option is to change the option for displaying hidden files in Windows Explorer back to its default condition, which keeps hidden files hidden from view.
In either case, it's not wise to delete or modify hidden files unless you're certain that you know what you're doing. That's why Microsoft marks them as hidden. In a case such as this in any file, you're welcome to take a look at the contents of the file now that you know it exists, but I would not recommend modifying it in any way or trying to delete it.
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