An Iconic Solution

BY J. CARLTON COLLINS

Q: I have about 40 icons on my desktop (five years of tax preparation software, several CPA productivity tools, the Office suite, practice management and just plain computer overhead tools like the Recycle Bin). I have arranged these icons so I can find them easily, but Windows sometimes rearranges them in no apparent order, and I have to start over. I’d like to avoid putting them into folders on the desktop because that just adds another mouse click. Is there a way to lock my icons in place?

 

A: Desktop icons may automatically rearrange when the video resolution changes during boot-up if you have Auto Arrange turned on. To turn off Auto Arrange, right-click on the Desktop and, in the pop-up menu, follow these instructions depending on your version of Windows:

 

  • Windows XP: Select Arrange Icons By, and if selected, click Auto Arrange to deselect it.
  • Windows Vista: Select View, and if selected, click Auto Arrange to deselect it.
  • Windows 7: Select View, and if selected, click Auto arrange icons to deselect it.

 

Known issue: Even with Auto Arrange turned off, this is a known issue with some Windows XP systems, and reportedly, in some cases, this problem can be corrected as follows:

  1. Arrange your desktop icons according to preference.
  2. Right-click on the desktop to display the pop-up menu, select Arrange Icons By, and uncheck Show Desktop Icons.
  3. Again, right-click on the desktop to display the pop-up menu, select Arrange Icons By, and check Show Desktop Icons.
  4. Reboot your computer.

Numbered icons. A better solution may be to rename and number each icon to control the specific order in which icons are auto arranged. As a practical matter, I always rename my desktop icons anyway, to abbreviate the name and save space. Examples of my renamed and numbered desktop icons are pictured below.

 

Using this approach, my frequently used icons remain in position, even with Auto Arrange enabled. This tip may be particularly beneficial to Windows 7 users when organizing icons within folders because that system no longer allows users to disable Auto Arrange in folders.

 

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