How-To Geek

Change XP Desktop Icons Into Smaller List View

Has it ever bothered you that you can’t change the size of the icons on your XP desktop? Thankfully they added this ability into Windows Vista, but what are your options in the meantime?

There’s a small utility called Deskview that lets you change the icons from regular mode into the smaller “list” mode with a double-click. It’s as simple as that.

Download and extract the zipfile, and then double-click on deskview.exe, and your icons will turn from this:


Into this:


To bring them back to regular mode, just double-click on deskview.exe again.

Download Deskview.exe from

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/3/08

Comments (17)

  1. Tony

    I love Pitaschio Similar “double-click, and run” behavior (so load it into your Startup Items), but is also has a bunch of other cool little explorer features.

  2. Tony

    Ouch just went to the deskview website, and it doesn’t remember the location of the icons?!? Pitaschio remembers.

  3. The Geek


    You are correct… I should have mentioned that fact.

  4. Peter

    Thanks for this tip. One can also follow this article to enable “View” menu on desktop:

  5. Dillon

    It is tricky to find, but I know of a way to change icon sizes in XP. If you go into properties, select the appearance tab, and click the “advanced” button. From there you need to select icons from the top drop down menu (the same menu has icon spacing as well).

  6. Syahid A.

    Or we can hide all the icons and use “Launchy” to take care of all of them. :D

  7. jen M

    i must be brain dead. i installed and followed all instructions and nothing happens. my icons dont change. please advise

  8. Deyaa Addeen Fahmy Shedeed

    Is there any way without third party ?
    thank you a lot.

  9. Matt

    i just downloaded the ‘deskview’ and it worked fine, but when i restart or turn off/on my computer I have to do it again? the icons went back to large

  10. snjblack

    Yeah! this what i always expecting to do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Dan

    it worked well. =].
    but unfortunatelly when i turn the computer on, and then back on again they are back to normal.
    this is the same for all my display settings.
    i have a visual style set, but when i turn my computer back on and back to windows classic style.
    how do i stop this happening?

  12. FrankJS

    I tried the method that Dillon mentioned and it works great.
    I thought I remembered seeing something like that.
    I works fine.

  13. HNKelley

    I tried the ‘deskview’ utility and it looked great… until I rebooted. So that’s not going to do it for me. I tried manually adjusting the size and spacing of the icons, and that was great.

    BUT (There’s always a ‘but’), the icon text was still next to the icons, not in the default position under them. So, when the system rebooted, the icon text moved to beneath. OK, might not have been an issue except the icons are nice and small now, so the text wraps in this small area. I end up with icon text columns 2 characters wide and really tall (height depends on number of characters, of course).

    I had to use ‘deskview’ again just to make it all readable so I can get things back to normal. Since I fell in love with this concept of small icons so quickly, I’ll try some of the alternative methods mentioned here.

    Does anyone know how to manually set the icon text to be next to the icon like ‘deskview’ does?

  14. C

    @All: Put deskview in the startup folder and see if that helps

  15. Srysparks

    How do you customize icon in xp pro?Is there a 1 step icon program for dummies?Sry,B.C.

  16. Winston

    Srysparks, yes there is, my friends just use “folderchanger” to customize icons.

    It helps you to change icon, and also create icon from your photo. It works great.

    found it by googling for “folderchanger” . or i guess the site should be at

  17. Carol

    Winston, the site is not at but at

    thanks for the tip.

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