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As usual, you can't do anything about it until you know what it's called. So what IS this?

The symptom:

The Problem

The group of icons was selected, and then dragged by clicking on new folder 2. Notice how there's a gradient fade effect, so the further away in the group from the click, the dimmer the icon.

For contrast, here's the same group, same drag attempt, but the icons just happened to be a few pixels closer together. The desired behavior:

Without the Problem

Notice how there's no fade gradient at all. The being-dragged group is a little dimmer, but all icons are equally intense. The only difference is the icons are closer together. So clearly, there's some threshold somewhere, that if a selected group is more than a certain size in width (or height, btw), the fade gradient is used when dragging. Less, and the icons are not faded.

I would dearly love to turn off the presence of the fade gradient.

Now, I know the controls at display properties; appearance; effects; "show window contents while dragging" have some influence over this. Sadly, if you uncheck that option, the icons in a group are not rendered at all, you just get crummy outlines. Not to mention, it also does the same thing to window contents, which is after all what the option is nominally about.

With no name for this, it's impossible to get anything useful from search engines.

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I never even noticed that before. :) Windows 7 does it on the desktop, as well. The threshold seems to involve how many icons you pick, and their size as well -- Neat(?) – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Oct 26 '11 at 23:38
I've been trying not to notice it for a long time now. It happens on the desktop, and it happens in folders with icon view. As far as I can tell, it doesn't matter how many icons are in the group, it only matters if the maximal left-to-right distance in the group exceeds about 128 pixels, or top-to-bottom exceeds about 148. Anyway, it's a nuisance when you're trying to move a whole bunch at a time, b/c you can't see where the outliers will end up! If whoever thought of this cutesy thing happens to read this, I'd just like to ask "what were you THINKING?!" – JustJeff Oct 27 '11 at 1:27
I think someone said something about it someplace, as in Windows 7 it seems that it was changed so that in Explorer itself when you grab a bunch of items it layers the icons and overlays a number showing you how many you have in the group. I have a feeling it may just be a non-configurable part of Explorer. If you turn off ALL the appearance options, does it still do it? – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Oct 27 '11 at 3:18
@techie007 If you turn off "Use visual styles on windows and buttons" in Performance Options you simply don't see any preview of what you're dragging--the cursor just looks different. – JustinStolle Oct 27 '11 at 5:43
I think this first appeared in W2K. I've never found a control that will make it do what I want, so if there's any hope short of an OS patch, it would be some kind of registry hack. Anyway, the human brain has a great capacity for remembering how to navigate spatial relationships; where one thing is relative to another, even in 2D. Back in the day, before I was forced to join the windows bandwagon, I used to love that the Mac interface respected this. You could find things by recognizing places. With windows' propensity to rearrange icons and hide things, you have to constantly read. – JustJeff Oct 27 '11 at 12:03
up vote 1 down vote accepted

For XP, I have gone through all the display options and looked through all the registry keys for visual effects and there is nothing that changes this. The closest thing to that is the outline dragging.

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Go to Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Performance Information and Tools. On the side bar deselect all of the fades. This should fix it for Windows 7.

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