XP Not Restoring Active Desktop

Active Desktop Recovery not restoring back to your desktop?

It’s a fairly common problem. You click the ever inviting Restore my Active Desktop button, but nothing happens. You still have that ugly white Active Desktop being displayed.

When I run into this problem, I have two methods I use to fix it.

Active Desktop Recovery Fix

Method 1

Right click on a blank area of the desktop and select Properties.


Now select the Desktop tab, then press the Customize Desktop button.


Here is the strange part.

Make a change to the Desktop icons section by selecting or deselecting one of them, then press OK.


Now press Apply.


If Method 1 was going to work, your Active Desktop message should have disappeared and you should have your standard desktop back.

If Method 1 did not work, try Method 2.

Method 2

Open up your registry: Start -> Run

*Warning: Be careful what you are doing when in the registry. It’s very easy to make your computer non-usable if you edit the wrong entry.

Type regedit


Expand the following:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Desktop\SafeMode\Components\


Double-click on DeskHtmlVersion, select the Decimal radio-button, and change the value from 272 to 0.

Then press OK.


Close out of Registry Editor, click in a blank area of your desktop, and press F5 to refresh the screen.

You should be back at your normal background/wallpaper.

Pat yourself on the back for a job well-done!

About Chris Davis

Computer / Technology enthusiast. Very passionate about Systems Administration. I enjoy helping others try and reach their goals. You can follow Chris on if you'd like.


  1. The User012 says:

    i cant open display properties :( it closes instantly

  2. jitheesh t says:

    Thanks buddy…it’s working…..

  3. The Regedit Hack worked like a charm – been so long since I have seen this I was at a loss! Thanks for the post!

  4. Method #1. Immediate fix. Thanks!

  5. Louise Duncan says:

    yes thanks – tried a more complex fix before but this time method 1 worked.

  6. Excellent! Thank you – I was about to throw this thing out of the window after trying other reported on-line ‘fixes’ which did not work, your second solution did just fine.

  7. Dear Chris,method one worked very well.Thanks.

  8. Method 2 worked like a dream. Thanks.

  9. The value keeps going back to hexadecimal when i go to check if it worked. I set the value to 0 and i click “decimal” and then i click ok. Then i go and modify it again its back to a hexadecimal

    • Hmm… not sure. So after you change it, I am assuming the white Active Desktop screen is still there too?

      • Joe Marasco says:

        Chris, I’m having the same problem that the person above reported last year – value keeps returning to hexadecimal and the white Active Desktop screen is stiil there…

  10. Tried the solution not working

    • Bummer – I do remember a couple machines over the years that would not work for me either. There has to be something else we are missing. I will keep looking around.

  11. Both solutions and a virus scan

  12. thank u so much….its working good

  13. Hi Chris – your advice really helped -first method worked

  14. Thank You Wery Much! The first method worked!

  15. again again this problem happen in my desktoop.

  16. Thanks! I didn’t know this one. Happened to me after my computer was unplugged without the battery in it.

  17. TundraThumper says:

    The Regedit solutions worked like a champ

  18. Great help Chris

  19. Thanks for your help. Method 2 worked for me. Thanks again.

  20. Method 1 worked perfectly. thanks

  21. Hey Mate,

    Lets do a little root cause analysis here. Why does method 1 work for some and method 2 for others.

    I am in IT as well, was looking for a fix for this. Thank you mate!

  22. This worked like a dream!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!

  23. Melvin Ware says:

    When I booted XP today, I had a white “Active Desktop Recovery” screen that failed to recover my desktop. Found this website and tried “Method 1” which worked great and restored by desktop. Many Thanks !

  24. Help me!please….Don’t work…

  25. Thank you thank you thank you!! The first way didn’t work, so I had to use the second method, which totally fixed the problem. I’m patting myself on the back now! :-)

  26. Yeah, tried boths methods and both of them work for me, but the problem keeps coming back. There’s one other bug which might be in synchronicity with active desktop – when I start win explorer and enter a folder with images, it tends sometimes to automatically shut down…

  27. Kenneth Juergens says:

    Method 1 worked for me also. Thanks so very much for taking the time to write this and to also do a video. Your efforts were very helpful to me (and apparently many others.) XP FOREVER!!! — who needs MS’s support when there are great people like you who are so helpful.

  28. Charlie says:

    Thanks, Chris! Method 2 work once before, and I’m trying it again today. The only difference I’ve run into is F5 isn’t refreshing my screen, but rebooting usually does.

  29. Method 1 worked worked for me. Thanks a lot!

  30. Thanks a lot Chris, Method 2 worked for me.

  31. I´m from Venezuela thank Chris, I help my co-worker with the solution number 2.

  32. Solution 2 worked for me, thanks for putting this out there!

  33. emil.radh@gmail.com says:

    Thank You!!! Solution #2 worked !!!!

  34. method 1 & 2 both did not worked

  35. Solomon says:

    Chris…..lol…Thanks mate method 1 worked for me……and I had followed method 2 from elsewhere but could not find the html thing…….well relieved after 2 days of sore eyes….Thanks again…Solomon

  36. Mr Chris i have another user it’s work with me like administrator not working Like any user at the same PC

  37. plz feed me back
    i’m waiting for your reply

  38. You are a life-saver – my third time here to get the instructions to fix this – only method 2 works, but it’s such a relief when I get rid of that screen. You da man!!!

  39. Thanks bunches, you just saved my sanity to top off a pretty miserable day!
    Step #1 restored my desktop in a jiffy.

  40. Phil Langston says:

    Not sure if this will help any of you guys but I fixed it by trying to change my desktop background.

  41. Neither fix worked for me, even after restarts. I am running a full system scan now, but can you help?

    • Darnnit! Sorry for my first post being needless (except to thank you!): It worked – the little box in fix 1 was unable to be un-checked when first I saw it. I have now un-checked it, and all’s well. Do I need to set the registry fix back to 272?
      Again, thank you!!

  42. Sank you Very Much

  43. Thank you David. The first method worked for me. God bless.

  44. great man. it’s worked. registry made it. thanks buddy.

  45. Method 2 works! :D.. Thanks for the help.. do you also know how to fix Yahoo messenger login issues?

  46. Method 1 — crazy, but it worked, thanks so much!

  47. thanks for the for the steps to fix this, I wasnt sure if I had done something to cause it or how to fix it, so thank you.

  48. Tierney Wood says:

    Thank you, that worked for me!

  49. unknown says:

    thx brother for your help

  50. Thanks, I’m nuts, so I went with Method 2 first, and it worked!

  51. mac2oytech65 says:

    It works perfectly for me the 2nd method, thanks for the solution, pal.

  52. Thank you Chris! Fantastic!!

  53. Thanks a whole lot for your advice! I tried a million other things from different websites, then I did Method #1 here and it worked instantly!

  54. i need active desktop recovery to my computer.i have not problem only this.

  55. Faizan Sahir says:

    Thank u soo much

  56. hi thats my issue i scanned my computer with avira anti virrus thing and told me i had to scan my computer because it had virus in it so i press scan and suddenly i could only see my wallpaper so i left it on all night and the next day i nothing acctually scan and i couldnt do nothing i could only see yhe walpaper no icons or even the taskbar i couldnt even refresh or even press properties nothing!!! so i pressed Alt+Ctrl+Delete and it opened the task manager and this is how i could open internet explorer to look for help please help me i want my windows xp back!!!! L :( :( :'(

  57. Sisiwote says:

    The second method is working fine

  58. Thanks alot. the second option is working fine

  59. I try the stapes-2. It’s working fine just for a night. But on next morning i have the same problem. Again i try the same steps & restart the system but not result.

  60. Thanks a ton ! Wonderful solution !!

  61. Manny says: Method # 1 worked like magic. Thank you Chris Davis.

  62. You are a genius !! Thanks, it worked first time. System restore I had done before did nothing


  1. […] 2 Solutions to Fix Active Desktop Recovery White Screen … – Active Desktop Recovery not restoring back to your desktop? It’s a fairly common problem. You click the ever inviting Restore my Active Desktop button, but nothing happens. […]

  2. […] 2 Solutions to Fix Active Desktop Recovery White Screen — PC-Addicts – Active Desktop Recovery Fix Method 1. Right click on a blank area of the desktop and select Properties. Now select the Desktop tab, then press the Customize Desktop button. […]

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