How do I stop Windows from rearranging my desktop icons?

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You have quite a few icons on the Windows desktop, and you want them to be arranged in some way that makes sense to you. For example, you may want to move the most frequently accessed icons right next to the top edge of the desktop, to be able to quickly use them when you have a program's window open on the screen, covering most of the desktop. Yet, when you move an icon to a new position, Windows moves it back to some other place, not the one you want. Does this sound familiar?

If Windows keeps moving the desktop icons and does not let you rearrange them at will, then most probably the Auto-arrange icons option is turned on. To see or change this option, right-click on an empty space of your desktop, and move the mouse pointer to highlight the View item on the shortcut menu. This should open another menu with several desktop customization options:

The Auto-arrange icons option on the View submenu

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If the Auto-arrange icons option is checked, uncheck it and see if that makes a difference. Chances are, you should now be able to move the icons to their appropriate positions on the desktop and Windows should not get in the way.

If this worked, you may want to experiment with other options on the same shortcut menu. For example, did you know you could use the Show desktop icons to quickly hide or show all of the desktop icons at once? Try it and see how it works. Does it give you an idea for a little April Fools joke to play with your co-workers? Have fun!

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  1. Vincent says:

    This didn’t work. I don’t even have auto arrange checked and it still moves.

  2. Didn't work for me says:

    Never had this proble with XP. I could also select “lock icons”, a usefiul option that has been removed in Win 7.

    I do not have auto arrange selected, either. I had Align icons to grid selected. Just de-selected to see if it makes a difference.

  3. Doug says:

    The suggested setting change does not stop windows from rearranging icons. rearranging still happens even when auto-arrange is not selected. there has to be some other way to stop icons from being moved around.

  4. John says:

    Didn’t work for me. Windows-7 insists on rearranging my icons periodically no matter how I try to get them to stay put.

  5. anca says:

    There is no way to do this using Windows. There is an option to “snapshot icons” on for example AmigaOS versions. What is needed is an option like this on Windows.

  6. Brian says:

    Didnt work for me :( mine was already unchecked
    the icons moving really annoy me especially when i spend so much time arranging tim

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