Windows 7: Desktop icons for new files are [sometimes] added in wrong position

desktop-iconsiconswindows 7

I have 62 icons on my Windows 7 Desktop. (Only one monitor.) (Windows Classic theme.) I always enable "Auto arrange icons" and "Align icons to grid" (and never disable "Show desktop icons"). With Windows XP and prior, whenever I downloaded a file to the Desktop (using Firefox, with its default save-to location set to Desktop), Windows added the icon for the new file at the END of the Desktop icons: below the lowest icon in the right-most column of icons if possible, or else at the top of the next column. Now, Windows 7 adds the icon for the new file in the FIRST column of icons, second position (below Computer), and all the other icons get pushed down by 1 (with wrapping to the top of the next column). I didn't ask Windows to insert the icon near the top; I expect it to add it at the end, like before. What happened? How to fix it? (At times I think I triggered it by using "Show hidden files" and turning off "Hide protected operating system files".)

This is an OLD problem. (Maybe Vista did it too. I didn't notice.) I am disappointed that I never stumbled onto an answer. I am disappointed that I cannot FIND an answer. I found other posts of the question, but it was not phrased well, enabling answerers to misunderstand the question and post irrelevant answers.

Right now I cannot clarify which provocations cause the problem and which do not, because my Windows is, for the moment, doing the right thing. (Murphy's Law.) Some other provocations that I would test are: If I do "Save Page As…" or "Save Image As". If I download or save from a different browser. If I open an Explorer window, navigate to "Desktop", "%userprofile%\Desktop", or "C:\Users\Public\Desktop", and create a new file or folder. If I open a command prompt and type "md Desktop\x". If I save from a different app, like Notepad2 or WordPad.

Best Answer

I cannot speak to the specific issue you are having (as I have never seen it do that), but Windows just does not have very good tools for managing or organizing icon positions on the desktop. Windows has neglected this since the very beginning. I personally keep icons in groups with gaps between them just to keep things mentally straight, but there are many actions which will cause Windows to just toss them all in the upper-left without regard to their previous positions.

You can try deleting your desktop.ini file. It's hidden by default but you can access it by showing hidden/system files, or by the command line. It will get recreated. You can also try deleting your iconcache.db file. It's located in your user profile folder under \AppData\Local (also hidden).

Normally I don't make product recommendations (especially commercial software), but in your case you might benefit from a program called Fences from StarDock. The program is free and allows you to group icons together and drag them around as a group. You can keep often-used icons together on one side of the screen and let downloads, etc. pile up however Windows does them on the other. It also preserves icon layout across resolution changes.

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