Tag Archives: windows

How to tell if my Windows is 32- or 64-bit?

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Very often, when you are trying to download a software product from some web site, you are given a choice of a 32- or a 64-bit version. (Note that most of our products do NOT require such a selection: they detect the "bitness" of Windows and install the appropriate files automatically for you.) Still, if you need to know the flavor of Windows that your computer is running, how to find it out?

The procedure to display such information is different for different versions of Windows. For example, if you have Windows 8 (or Windows 8.1), then you could do the following:

  1. Launch File Explorer (switch to the Desktop mode, if you have not done so already)
  2. Right-click on the Computer item in the navigation pane
  3. Choose Properties on the shortcut menu

How to open the System Properties window on a Windows 8 computer.
How to open the System properties window

After you do that, the System Properties window should open, displaying all kinds of information, including the "bitness" of Windows installed on your computer:

The System Properties window on a Windows 8 computer.
The System Properties window shows the Windows "bitness" information.

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OK, that's how to do it on a Windows 8 computer, what about the earlier versions of Windows? You can do the same steps, only instead of File Explorer launch Windows Explorer (that's how it was called before Windows 8). Or, you could open the Start menu and right-click on the Computer (or My Computer) item there, to display the shortcut menu with the Properties command.

Note that if you have Windows XP, then the System information may not contain the "bitness": if so, you can safely assume your computer is running a 32-bit version of Windows XP.

Now, when some web sites asks you to choose between a 32- or 64-bit download, you will know how to make the right decision.

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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

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.

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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. Maybe it can give you an idea for a little April Fools joke...

If unchecking the Auto-arrange icons option didn't work and the icons keep moving, it could be due to several other possibilities:

1. Some programs (such as computer games in particular) change the screen resolution when you run them. When it happens, Windows automatically re-arranges the desktop icons to fit the new screen size. When you exit the game, the screen resolution may change back, but the icons have already been re-arranged. Sound familiar? If you've noticed that the icons change their positions after you run a particular program, this might be the case. What is the solution? Not to run that program :-) or look through its settings, maybe there is an option to adjust the screen resolution it uses. Contact the company that makes the offending program, and they might be able to help.

2. If only some icons are moving after you save changes to the documents they represent, it could be because the program that saves the changes actually recreates a new document from scratch, and it makes Windows to find a new position for the icon rather than reuse the old one. As suggested in the comments below, a solution to such a problem is not to save documents themselves on the desktop. Instead, save them to some other folder, such as Documents, and create shortcuts to the documents on the Desktop. This way, when you save the document, the shortcut will not be changed, and it should keep its position on the desktop.

3. If Windows keeps rearranging the icons even after you've tried the previous suggestions, another possibility is that you have a faulty video card or an outdated driver for the video card. You see, if the video card or its driver do not behave well, they may change the resolution spontaneously, and when the resolution changes, it causes Windows to rearrange the icons on the desktop, too. If this is the case, first of all check for updates to your video card driver, and install a new version, if available. Keep in mind that you may need to search the web site of the company that manufactured your video card for the latest driver for your specific model. If updating the driver does not solve the problem, try tweaking the video card settings, such as changing its resolution or the display mode. Good luck!

Finally, if Windows keeps rearranging the desktop icons no matter what you try, you may want to install our free utility Icon Shepherd. It puts a small icon into your taskbar notification area (next to the system clock) that you can use to memorize the current positions of the desktop icons as a snapshot, and then restore them from the snapshot next time when Windows messes up your icons again. Download Icon Shepherd now (did we mention it's free?) or read more about it.

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