How to Stop Desktop Icons Changing Positions on Windows 10

Stop moving my icons to another screen, damn you Microsoft!

Desktop Icons Moving
Have you been recently experiencing that your desktop icons move to your second screen – such as after rebooting your pc, unplugging your second screen or similar?

I found a solution to solve this ridiculous feature of Windows 10. I did lots of research and none of the suggested solutions worked for me. So I figured it out myself. I have listed all the solutions that worked for other users, you might give them a try.

Approach 1: Delete IconCache Files?

This didn’t work for me, but might work for some.

One of the suggested solutions can be found on GroovyPost. It was suggested that I delete the IconCache-Files under the folder AppData. You can find the AppData folder by opening Explorer (Windows+E) and typing in %userprofile% like this:

Accessing AppData

And then click on AppData with your right mouse button, click “search” and search for “IconCache” (if you can’t find a “search” under your menu, solve this problem first: Search Button disappeared). This solution doesn’t work for me – either the IconCache can’t be deleted or it just comes back when the system reboots.┬áIt seems to be solution before Windows 10 updated and integrated this feature in their core operating system.

Approach 2: Turn of Auto Arrange?

Lots of other “how to keep desktop icons from moving” solutions recommend to turn of the “Auto Arrange”. Even this wasn’t the solution for me neither, it seems that some people surprisingly had success with this. All you have to do is to position your cursor on a free space on your desktop, click right mouse button and then uncheck “Auto rearrange icons”:

Auto arrange iconsIn my case, auto arrange was turned off anyways, so that recommendation went down the sewer. But it might work for you, so that’s why I’m mentioning it. But it seems it’s not a solution for any of the problems people have at the moment since Windows 10 performed some ridiculous updates.

Approach 3: Delete Registry Keys?

For a moment there I thought this is it! Registry solutions usually work best, but not in my case. But it’s worth a try for you to stop Windows from re-positioning your desktop icons. It suggests that you delete these two registry entries “NoOfOldWorkAreas” and “OldWorkAreaRects”. Well, I did and nothing happened. It seems this solution is more than 15 years old and was probably working for Windows 98?

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Final Approach: Move an Icon!

Sick of all these solutions that don’t work? Embrace yourself for the one and only solution that worked for me.

Windows 10 sucksFirst, move your icons back to to your primary desktop where you want to have them. But leave one icon behind.

In my case I left an icon and have it the name “Windows 10 sucks”. So if anybody asks me what this icon is all about, I would tell them – that’s the only way to keep my icons on my first desktop screen. And why is that? Because…

Windows 10 sucks!

I hope that solution works for you. Please be so kind and leave a comment, if you like it – or if you find another solution please let me know!

One other solution would be to convince the U.S. congress to induct a law to make it legal to torture Microsoft developers. I don’t think anybody would object, not even human rights organizations. If you like that idea, please leave a comment on the bottom of this page. Thanks!

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20 comments for “How to Stop Desktop Icons Changing Positions on Windows 10

  1. Luis,
    January 11, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Fabulous solution and fabulous real critics on MS.
    Unfortunately my work forces me to use this OS.

  2. Gert Mochel,
    April 21, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Good recommendations and hilarious comment…
    But I have to confess that I have very little problems with 10!

  3. Why?,
    May 6, 2018 at 9:36 am

    But, I want to have icons in both screens :(

    Windows keeps scrambling them randomly when I change priority screen.

  4. daniel,
    February 1, 2019 at 7:59 pm

    What I found was if the primary display was using the older connection (VGA compared to DVI) than the seconday, the icons would move. Once I used the newest connection for my primary monitor, all was good. Before that, I was putting a single icon on the secondary desktop to keep them from moving. Hope that helps.

  5. Time2Talk,
    February 8, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. The solution that finally worked for you, also worked for me!!!

  6. Kirk Rundle,
    April 23, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    While we are at it, I am so tired of Windows trying to figure out how to do things for me, the great prognosticator of my desires….Bill, you’re no Nostradamus my friend.

  7. Fernando Sousa,
    July 8, 2019 at 11:14 pm

    It is more easy!
    If you go to Themes, then pick Desktop Icons Management, unclick the trash and press apply.
    It instantly change the ALL icons to the main screen!
    After, you may click again on trash and press apply!

    A stupid bug with a “stupid” solution!
    TRY IT!

  8. Dainius,
    July 23, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    Window’s do’s some stupid sh… and one of it is, that when app is being installed and for some weird reasons it assigns it’s shortcut to 2nd monitor, then this issue start’s to appear, what you have to do: Go to your display setting’s, check the 2nd monitor as primary monitor, than you will instantly see that app’s shortcut appear on that 2nd monitor, you move it back to your main monitor, assign your primary monitor back and it’s fixed.

    Why the app was set to create a shortcut to 2nd monitor IDK, but that’s what’s causing an issue.

  9. Ron Mehringer,
    September 4, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    Fernando Sousa, your solution worked for me but only for the current session. After rebooting, most of the icons moved back to the 2nd monitor. Funny thing is that this problem only exists on my SurfaceBook but not on my SurfacePro. Ugh.

  10. Kavbojc,
    September 12, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    Thank you Dainius, that worked for me.

  11. John Foll,
    September 19, 2019 at 12:25 am

    Moving all of my icons except one to my primary screen and leaving one on the screen with the problem seems to do the trick! I guess I was getting greedy! I wanted ’em all on the main screen. That ‘ll teach me!

  12. Larry,
    September 28, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    Another “Thank you, thank you, thank you”. I bought a tablet and set it up as the 2nd monitor. Everything worked fine…then I unplugged the tablet. After plugging back in I was amazed, and flabbergasted, that the desktop shifted to the tablet and would not go back.I spent a fair amount of time researching until I found your solution. Bravo!

    I’m not a big fan of torture. How ’bout 5 past years of IRS audits?

  13. AlainCh2,
    October 18, 2019 at 11:42 am

    Got the luck and found the exact problem:
    My Taskbar setting “hide in desktop mode” get unchecked when this happens
    (no reason given)

    I go to Taskbar setting, recheck it and instantly the icons goes back in main display.
    (no reason given)

    I never found this solution on the web.
    Found it on my own by chance few months ago
    (I agree: Windows10 sucks)


  14. Bernard,
    October 19, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    Fernando Sousa: you are absolutely correct. The dozen of other tricks I found did not solve the problem.

  15. Hellen,
    November 21, 2019 at 11:52 am

    Right click on the screen –> Go to View –> Change icon size to Medium or Small
    This resolved my problem. The icons were moving to the secondary screen when they are large.

  16. David,
    January 17, 2020 at 9:31 pm

    I encountered the problem when I switched the location of my second screen from the left side of the laptop to the right side. I was able to change the display setting easily enough so that I could drag files from one screen to the other in an intuitive way. But Windows kept screwing up the desktop icons on the primary screen after I changed the display setting. Finally, I found your solution of keeping one desktop icon on the monitor. After I did that, changing the orientation of the screens did not screw up the desktop icons.

  17. Cristi_S,
    January 24, 2020 at 3:17 pm

    OMG That worked! :))
    Your last solution, the one with leaving 1 icon on the 2nd monitor… solved the problem.
    I don’t know why the icon setting got screwed up, but i tried many other solutions with no luck… after restart all the icons got sent to the secondary monitor.
    Frankly, i don’t think i would have come up with a solution like this… so glad it worked though.
    Thanks a lot!

  18. Trish,
    April 4, 2020 at 12:43 am

    WTH THIS ACTUALLY WORKED. I’d tried all of the previous methods and making / leaving that one file on the second monitor stopped my desktop from rearranging itself every time. Win10, why.

  19. Roberto Perez,
    April 7, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks for this article! Forcing desktop icons to my primary screen was essential for my application… which is 2x 27″ monitors as my workspace, and a small 13″ touchscreen (my primary) in front and middle of them… I use my touchscreen as a “shortcut” screen to quickly launch apps & PowerShell scripts… now I just need to figure out, how to force certain apps to load in a certain monitor…

  20. Charles,
    April 11, 2020 at 10:40 pm

    I did not have this type of issue. The desktop icons were arbitrarily rearranging icons to what it thinks is alphabetical (It was not true). Also I have nice relatives who need to use my Windows 10 desktop and I wanted to make sure they never altered any of the properties or location on screen. After lots of searching and comparing I found Desklock Windows. I have been happy ever since. When locked not one icon can be moved to a new location. If you try to left-click an icons the drop down list is not shown. All the icons runs great.

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