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.
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 If Windows is sporadically changing the resolution without you taking any action, it could be because of an outdated driver.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.