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Some Windows 7 users have been experiencing an odd error. From time to time, every icon on their desktop will spontaneously rearrange itself after a restart. Instead of being in the arrangement that the user wants, the desktop icons will be scattered haphazardly around the screen. For people with a lot of desktop icons, this error can be particularly annoying.
So how do you fix it? Try troubleshooting it using the following steps:
Turn off auto-arrange: Right click anywhere on your desktop and select ‘View’. From that menu, you’ll be able to select a few different customization options. You can choose whether to have small, medium or large icons on your desktop. However, more importantly, you can also select whether you want to auto-arrange your desktop icons. By selecting this option, all of your applications will be arranged according to file type on one edge of your screen. If this option is enabled, then your desktop icons may be automatically rearranging themselves on startup.
Shut down your computer properly: The leading cause of messy desktop icons is an improper shutdown process. If your power suddenly goes out, or if your computer randomly powers down, then Windows may have reverted to an earlier desktop arrangement. This would throw your existing desktop arrangement out of whack. Sometimes, your computer doesn’t even need to shut down improperly for this to occur. Instead, just a single program that shuts down incorrectly could lead to desktop problems. Always close your programs before shutting down your computer at night.
Align your icons to a grid: This option can also be found under the ‘view’ menu. Instead of throwing your icons wherever they please, try aligning them to a grid. This will give your desktop a neater, more attractive look.
Test in Windows Safe Mode: If your desktop icons rearrange themselves on every startup, then you may want to test your computer in Safe Mode. To enter this mode, hold the F8 key before the Windows logo appears and then select ‘Boot in Safe Mode’. If the arrangement still changes in Safe Mode, try deleting the desktop.ini file and allowing Windows to rebuild it.
Refresh your icons: Click anywhere on your desktop and hit ‘F5’. Or, right-click and select ‘Refresh’. Do this after each time you change around your desktop icon arrangement. This has worked for many people.
Download third-party desktop software: Sometimes, no matter what you do to Windows, it will still spontaneously rearrange your desktop icons upon startup. To lock your icons in place, try downloading a free application called Fences, which is available from a software company called Stardock.