On Windows 10 Desktop, the desktop icons may auto-arrange after computer reboot or desktop refresh (F5). When the symptom happens, all desktop icons are left justified, i.e. moved to the left side of the Desktop, and the icon size may also change to medium or small. The auto-moving of desktop icons happens despite the “auto arrange icons” option is not selected.

The exact cause of desktop icons switching locations randomly and without reason is not precisely known, else Microsoft would have fixes the issue or would ensure that the issue doesn’t occur. Thus, there is no “magic bullet” resolution that fixes desktop icons change location by itself issue once and for all.

This tutorial shows you the possible solutions for the desktop icons keep moving, changing location and rearranging to the left by Windows on refresh or reboot issue.

Resolution 1: Install All Windows Updates

Make sure that all updates, hotfixes or upgrades for the Windows operating system available from Windows Update has been installed. Some issues may have been recognized and fixed by the updates from Microsoft.

Resolution 2: Install Latest Device Drivers for Display Adapters

Outdated or corrupt device driver for display adapter or video card may cause issue to the display. For example, display resolution may be changed randomly, and when the resolution changes, it may cause Windows to rearrange the icons on the desktop. In addition, high resolution display mode and multi-display support, which is common to modern system, may be lacking or not fully supported, contributing to the possible cause for desktop icons rearranging.

Windows Update may offer updates to popular graphics card, but for latest version, always check the manufacturer’s website.

Resolution 3: Disable Auto Arrange Icons

Right click on the blank space on Desktop, go to View and disable (uncheck) the Auto arrange icons.

Resolution 4: Rebuild Icon Cache

  1. In File Explorer or Command Prompt window, go to %UserProfile%\AppData\Local.
  2. Delete IconCache.db file.
  3. Restart the computer, and Windows system will rebuild the IconCache database with the new locations for icons.

Resolution 5: Rollback Device Driver

If the symptom of Desktop icons keep changing location happens after a upgrade of device driver, especially to graphics card, try to rollback to the older version. To do so, open WinX Quick Access menu, and select Device Manager. Then, expand the tree and double click on the device that its driver was recently updated. Go to Driver tab and hit the Roll Back Driver.

Resolution 6: Restore to Previous System Restore Point

If you have a System Protection Restore Point which the issue of desktop icons re-arrange to left on screen refresh or system reboot yet to happen, try to restore to that Restore Point to bring the system back to the state before the issue appeared.

Resolution 7: Disallow Themes to Change Desktop Icons

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Go to Personalization -> Themes.
  3. Scroll down to the bottom, and open Desktop icon settings link under “Related Settings”.

    Desktop Icon Settings

  4. In “Desktop Icon Settings” dialog, uncheck Allow themes to change desktop icons.

    Allow Themes to Change Desktop Icons

  5. Hit Apply or OK.

Resolution 8: Tweak Display Resolution and DPI Settings

Try to change the display resolution to its native resolution, and DPI back to 100%, especially if you’re using high DPI settings and ultra high resolution monitor.

Resolution 9: Resize Desktop Icons

Try to change the icon size on the Desktop, as the icons may not be appearing in proper size, making Windows confused. To try to resize the desktop icons, do one of the following:

  1. Select all the desktop icons, then press and hold on Ctrl key while scroll the mouse wheel to make the size bigger or smaller.
  2. Right click on the blank space of the Desktop, and select View on the contextual menu. Choose either Large icons, Medium icons or Small icons to change the size of desktop icons.

Restart the computer when done.

Resolution 9: Use Third Party Programs to Save and Restore Desktop Icons Position

If nothing helps to make the desktop icons location stick and static on reboot or refresh, there are several desktop management software that able to remember and save the desktop icons position, and restore them to original location if changed. Some of the programs include:

  • DesktopOK – DesktopOK is a small but effective solution for user that have to change the screen resolution often, or users who often have to work with a projector on the notebook, laptop or tablet-PC, as changing resolution the icons will be messed up due to Windows not correctly restores the desktop icons position. DesktopOK saves your favorite icon locations for each screen resolution and restores them when changed.
  • DeskSave (download dsksve8.zip) – DeskSave is an icon rearranging program that save desktop icon layout in order to restore it automatically in case it gets mixed up e.g. by changing screen resolution.
  • Stardock Fences (commercial) – Fences allows user to automatically organize the desktop shortcuts and icons.