How do I stop Windows from rearranging my desktop icons?
You have quite a few icons on your Windows desktop, and you have spent quite some time painstakingly arranging them in the way that makes sense to you. All is well for a while, then one morning you log in to your computer and suddenly all icons are messed up. Does this sound familiar?
If Windows keeps moving the desktop icons, you may find our software Icon Shepherd of use: it memorizes the positions of the icons and keeps track of them when they are moved around, creating snapshots of the icon positions after each change. When Windows messes up your icons, you can use Icon Shepherd to restore the previously saved layouts, and return the icons to their proper places with one click. Download Icon Shepherd now or read more about it. (Icon Shepherd is free for the private, home use on one computer.)
However, before starting to use Icon Shepherd, you may want to check a few things first. If Windows does not let you rearrange the icons as you want, 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:
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. 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:
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.
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.
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 software Icon Shepherd. It memorizes the positions of the desktop icons and keeps track of them when you move the icons around, creating snapshots of the icons after each change. When Windows messes up your icons, you can use the Icon Shepherd icon (next to the system clock) to restore a previously saved layout of the icons, and return them to their proper places. Download Icon Shepherd now or read more about it. (Icon Shepherd is free for the private, home use on one computer.)
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