Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is there a way to force Windows to save desktop icon positions?

share|improve this question
Welcome to SuperUser, and thanks for contributing! Note that, while answering your own questions is perfectly OK, you should format your post as such - a question and an answer. So please rewrite your post so that it poses a question or describes a problem, then post the solution as an answer. Also don't forget to accept the answer (by clicking on the checkmark outline next to it), so that others who find this know that the solution worked for you. –  Indrek Aug 26 '12 at 20:22
There's also a small shell extension that adds "Save Desktop Icon Layout" and "Restore Desktop Icon Layout" options to the context menu of the "My Computer" icon. You can get it here, for example. –  zb226 Aug 26 '12 at 21:34

4 Answers 4

up vote 22 down vote accepted

You can simply right-click the Desktop & click Refresh. This saves the icon positions (at least it does on XP, also confirmed on Windows 7).

Here's a simple way to confirm that this method works:

  • Move an icon
  • Kill explorer.exe (& restart it, if it don't auto-restart)
  • Notice icon moves back (because it wasn't saved)
  • Move icon again
  • Right-click on the Desktop -> click Refresh
  • Kill explorer
  • Notice icon doesn't move back (since this time it was saved before killing explorer)
share|improve this answer
Good to see that there's a much simpler way. Thanks! –  Jelle Geerts Aug 31 '12 at 15:07
Brilliant! If only I'd known this years ago. Thanks! :) –  Chiramisu May 7 '13 at 1:29
how to restart explorer.exe after it is killed from taskmanager.. I see no way to restart.. as start menu disappears.. (windows 7) –  ihightower May 21 at 3:35

A way to force Windows to save desktop icon positions without using third-party utilities:

  1. Open Notepad and enter some text, so that if you were to close it, it would show a confirmation dialog.
  2. Attempt to log off.
  3. Notepad (and possibly other applications) will ask you whether you want to save changes.
  4. Click Cancel. This will prevent Windows from logging off.

The desktop icon positions are now saved. It happens because it's one of the things that Windows does when logging off, and it happens before actually logging off.

This may be helpful when you have just tidied up your desktop, because if Windows Explorer crashes, modifications to the desktop icon positions are lost.

share|improve this answer
Nice one! ..... –  Shiki Aug 27 '12 at 21:24
I think the solution of Anonymous is much simpler, and it actually works, I just tried that. :) Btw., interesting one. –  Sk8erPeter Nov 20 '12 at 16:12
That one is indeed simpler ;) . This one could still be useful though, in the off case the simpler one stops working in a future version of Windows. –  Jelle Geerts Nov 27 '12 at 16:54

There is a good program, called DesktopOK, which has an opportunity to EXPORT (save as) the file, and then restore whenever you want..

share|improve this answer
This works great for my case, where I often dock and undock my work laptop. Switching between the native laptop display and two larger monitors screws up Win7's placement of icons and they end up all over the place (pretty pathetic, if you ask me). Using DesktopOK, you can save several "sessions" for various monitor configurations and resolutions, and restore them as and when needed. Doesn't need installation, just run when you want to save or restore. –  Amos M. Carpenter May 14 at 1:43

Just installed DesktopRestore from midiox, which works fine on Windows 7.


share|improve this answer
Don't know why this was downvoted. This is a great answer and an awesome solution. I have been using Jamie O'Connell's Desktop icon Save and Restore for over a DECADE now, and still using on Win7 x64. It's invaluable especially for when you are switching between a multi-monitor setup at work and a single-monitor (laptop) at home. You can set up different layouts that are super easy to restore contextually based on the monitor setup. The link to the (free) application is on Jamie's website: midiox.com/html/desktop.htm –  Tom Auger Jun 20 at 1:29

protected by slhck Aug 21 '13 at 10:08

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.