Icon stand it anymore!
August 26, 2011 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Help! Windows keeps shuffling my desktop icons.

I'm using Windows-XP at work on a Dell laptop in a docking station and also use an external monitor for most of my work. It came with NVIDIA, so I use that to run dualview. Most of the time, but not always, when I reboot or undock, the desktop icons get moved around, and usually in a different manner each time. I have about 50 icons on the desktop, and they're organized in a way that I can find what I need. Windows doesn't seem to like my arrangement, and modifies it when it can. I'd like it to stop.

At first, I had my laptop and external monitors at different resolutions. When I'd undock, I thought the difference in size might force Windows to move some of the icons, so I set both displays to 1440x900 (the laptop recommended size). I also had the external monitor as primary, since it's right in front of me, but I thought undocking would cause the primary to switch and that might be the reason. So I made the laptop display primary. These 2 changes made it a little better, but it's been bad lately.
Maybe half the time when I reboot/undock, the icons stay in place. Sometimes, 3-6 icons jump out of various points on the desktop and wind up on the left side, usually top corner down. Why just a few, I don't know. Every once in a while it does a full-blown reset, like I clicked on Arrange By>Auto Arrange. What's been happening most often lately (3 times today) is that all of the icons move horizontally 4 to 6 positions to the right (I have 'Align to grid' checked). The ones that would have gone off the right edge wind up scrambled on the left edge. Usually I move everything back to where it belongs, but one time I let it stay that way and on reboot it moved the icons another 4 or 5 positions right.
Is there some way to make it stop? If not, is there a place where the icon display information is kept (registry?) that I can refresh without having to drag 50 icons one-by-one across the screen?

This question seems quite similar, but did not provide a solution. Non-corporate-provided programs may or may not be allowed.

Bonus details: often the screen resolution(s) get changed as well. When this happens, I go to the NVDIA nView Display Wizard to set the custom display settings. If I try directly from the Windows Display Properties, I can't get the same resolution I want for both monitors. Then I have to go into Windows to put the external monitor to the left of the laptop, where it resides in reality. This leads me to believe that neither NVDIA nor Windows likes my setup.
posted by MtDewd to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
Windows is infamously bad at icon arrangement and re-arranging icons without warning. I'd suggest using Stardock Fences to manage things going forward.
posted by odinsdream at 12:23 PM on August 26, 2011

Yeah, when you reset the resolution on your laptop by switching from dualview back to single view, windows is usually gonna reload your desktop.

My XP fu has diminished, but I think you can right click on the desktop select view, then de-select or uncheck both the 'Auto arrange icons' and the 'Align icons to grid' options.

That should work. Good luck.
posted by Sphinx at 4:10 PM on August 26, 2011

I installed Fences (at home- couldn't install it at work).
I wasn't real keen on how IT arranged my desktop, but what it did was take a snapshot of my desktop before it rearranged it.
I think I'll go without any fences, but now I've got a snapshot to restore. Thanks!

Sphinx- auto-arrange was off. I didn't try it with Align Icons off. That may have helped, but I suspect Windows will continue to rearrange at will.
posted by MtDewd at 5:45 AM on August 27, 2011

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