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Windows sometimes likes to rearrange your desktop icons when you restart Windows or download a new application and add the desktop icon. The cause of this is a built-in feature that’s enabled by default. Here’s how to turn it off.

Lock Desktop Icons in Place

First, right-click anywhere on your desktop. A context menu will appear. Hover your cursor over the “View” option at the top of the menu.

Hover over View.

A sub-menu will appear, displaying several different icon view options. On this menu is an option called “Auto Arrange Icons.” As the name implies, this feature allows Windows to automatically arrange your icons. To prevent this from happening, uncheck the “Auto Arrange Icons” option.

You can also check “Align Icons to Grid” if you want each row and column of icons to be aligned.

Other Possible Causes to Note

This should prevent Windows from randomly rearranging your desktop icons for the most part. However, there are some other cases in which your desktop icons may be rearranged even if you disabled the Auto Arrange Icons setting. For example, if you change your screen resolution, your icons may sometimes get scattered.

Unfortunately, there’s no built-in way to prevent that from happening except for not changing the screen resolution. It’s better to stick with your native resolution anyway. If Windows is sporadically changing the resolution without you taking any action, it could be because of an outdated driver. In this case, you may want to update your driver to see if that fixes the issue.

There are, of course, many third-party applications that claim to handle the task of locking your desktop icons in place—many of these apps being freeware, which often contain bloatware or other unwanted viruses. Be sure to thoroughly vet the developers of these apps before downloading anything.

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Profile Photo for Marshall Gunnell Marshall Gunnell
Marshall is a writer with experience in the data storage industry. He worked at Synology, and most recently as CMO and technical staff writer at StorageReview. He's currently an API/Software Technical Writer based in Tokyo, Japan, runs VGKAMI and ITEnterpriser, and spends what little free time he has learning Japanese.
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