Restore Desktop Icon Positions After Windows Rearranges Layout


winlogo.jpgMore often than with previous versions of Windows, it seems Vista likes to change the desktop icon layout positions without warning after operating system updates, screen resolution changes, or new applications are installed. At first, it's not much of a problem. But as time goes by and you add shortcuts and folders, putting many icons back to where YOU want them position on the desktop, becomes frustrating.

While this problem occurs on all versions of Windows, and not just with Vista, saving and restoring your desktop layout is possible courtesy of a old resource kit utility provided by Microsoft way back in the Windows NT 4.0 days.

Thanks to this tip from, you can save you desktop icon layout and restore them to the exact positions before they were rearranged by Windows, easily with a right click of the mouse.

– First, you will need to download from PC 911 website. After download has completed, unzip to your desktop (or folder of your choice).

– Next, copy Layout.dll to C:\Windows\System32 (for Windows XP and Vista) or C:\WINNT\System32 (for older versions of Windows).

– Now double click the file Layout.reg file to automatically add the appropriate changes to your registry.

– If not already, layout the icons on your desktop to the position you want them saved. Then right click on the Recycle Bin and select "Save Desktop Icon Layout".


The icon positions are now saved.

NOTE: Make sure you see the pop up "Desktop Icon Settings Saved" which will verify the desktop layout has been saved. If you do not see the message, right click and select "Save Desktop Icon Layout" again.

Next time Windows rearranges the icon layout again, you can restore the layout by right clicking either:

  • My Computer
  • Network Neighborhood (My Network Places),
  • Recycle Bin

and select "Restore Desktop Icon Layout" to restore the layout back to the way you previously saved it.


You can move the icons around freely, however whenever you want them restored to their original saved positions, right click on Recycle Bin, Network Neighborhood, or My Computer again and select "Restore Desktop Icon Layout" to save the new desktop layout.

Comments on Restore Desktop Icon Positions After Windows Rearranges Layout Leave a Comment

October 10, 2007

Jason @ 7:01 pm #

Hello–I'm running Vista Home Premium (preinstalled on laptop) and this doesn't seem to work as perfectly as I'd hoped.

I did everything as you described. I saved the layout, moved an icon from the left side of the screen to the right, restored the layout, and the icon was moved back to the left. I thought everything was working as advertised until I restarted the computer. Of course stupid Vista repositioned all the icons again. However when I tried to restore the layout, all the icons vanished. It even gave me the popup "Desktop icon layout restored" as a slap in the face. I had to restart/log off to get them to reappear. I've tried restoring the layout after they get jumbled around from restarting multiple times and the icons disappear every time.

Sooo I'm still stuck with this annoying problem. Any ideas?

October 11, 2007
October 12, 2007

dick @ 4:52 pm #

I also cannot use this old trick with Vista 32bit HPremium.
look on the web for ULTRAMON utility which has a feature to
save/restore desktop icons.
I've tested it and it works

April 13, 2008

Toby @ 7:13 pm #

Unfortunately this does not appear to work on Vista 64bit Ultimate. Installation seems to go fine, but the options are not added to any of recyle bin, computer or network neighborhood right click menus. Oh well, back to shuffling icons around every time I use remote desktop…

May 28, 2008

Dominique @ 8:49 am #

My speech – same as dick's: I also cannot use this old trick with Vista 32bit HPremium.
look on the web for ULTRAMON utility which has a feature to
save/restore desktop icons.
I've tested it and it works

June 28, 2008

Scott @ 3:49 pm #

Doesn't seem to for for me at all. Running Windows XP Pro SP3. I'm not seeing the 2 option in the right click menu and I did import the .reg file into the registry.

November 6, 2008

Jehle @ 12:32 pm #

I've had issues doing remote destop from a Vista to XP machine. I have no idea why, but when I do this only from the Vista machine, all the icons look like they've been auto arranged. Save and restore icon positions appears to work.

I did have one problem when I did a Save twice, and then Restore. Nothing moved. I reregistered the DLL, did Restore again, and everything went back to the right place.

I was so frustrated by this Vista feature that I was going to return the laptop or downgrade to XP (which I still may do anyway).

Thanks for the post!

December 30, 2008

John @ 11:32 am #

This only works sometimes. Usually I still have to rearange a lot of icons, and I used it b4 on my XP machine.

February 3, 2009

iztokv @ 5:10 am #

doesnot work for me aswell (vista 64 ent.)
But my old prefferd method did it again. After windows do the mess just press the power on/off button for 4 seconds (or unplug power suply cable), ***WARNING: Save all your work before***, and then power up the pc.
The icons are on their places again. Of course you have to save them from time to time with 'click on Desktop -> F5' command.
Using this method since WinNT 3.51 and it works always. Its a lil bit incovenient to crash windows but i never had any problems.. btw it happen to me once a year maybe, it is not the 'every day' method. In this case better use some sw

ciao i.

John @ 7:41 pm #

I guess WTN has a point. Seems a risky way. But I repeat there'sno system or program that can rearrange ALL the icons. I guess it has something to do with the spacing between the icons that should not be set to close.

April 29, 2009

MoHeM @ 4:28 am #

one word


John @ 4:58 am #

Iconoid you say ? Well I'll try it. But certainly if you have lots of icons on your desktop the chances that this program will fix it are small.

April 30, 2009

Jonas @ 3:49 am #

I have installed this on XP. I have to open some kind of window to get this to work.
I know that it sounds strange. I usually open an explorer window (not maximized ofcourse) and the choose one of the two choices.
It does not work otherwise. I just tried it again to make sure! 🙂

May 1, 2009

jeroboam bramblejam @ 12:44 pm #

Alas, even Iconoid fails to permanently keep positions – even if you use the Export Settings (then Import settings).

May day, May day…

John @ 1:16 pm #

Well thanks; lucky I didn't install it yet. I think ppl who say this works, maybe have some 15 icons or so on their desktop. I normally have at least some 80 icons on my desktop; and that's only after I've cleaned up all the junk.

May 4, 2009

Jonas @ 3:08 am #

I have 62 icons on my desktop and it works fine.
But I need to have an open window on the desktop to make it work. Don't ask me why, but I've tried it a lot of times. I use it on XP pro though.

Jonas @ 3:16 am #

I'm referring to Layout.dll. I forgot to mention that. 🙂

May 8, 2009

psymon2 @ 8:19 am #

After much searching I finally found one that works. Desktop Restore – ""
Tested and working with ~100 icons on Vista.

John @ 9:14 am #

Are you serious ? Well, gonna try it out on the double. And with 100 icons you say ? Geez that's even more than I expected…


May 11, 2009

Jason @ 8:11 am #

Verified the midiox link for Desktop Restore worked for me on Vista 64. None of the others wouldn't.

John @ 8:20 am #

Ye, so far that's the only app'n that works for desktop restore. The author deserves a contribution.

August 17, 2009

GB @ 2:33 am #

I am running Vista business 64. Is the Midiox Desktop restorer still working for you or was it short lived ??

John @ 10:41 am #

I'm on 32 bit but DesktopRestore is still doin' what it's supposed to do.

And BTW if you have many icons on your desktop you of course you tend to put them closer together > Desktop R-click > Personalise > Windows Color …., but then they don't want to stay in place.

The icons always pop out of the place you've put hem in. So only Desktop Restore can put them immediately back where they belong.

August 18, 2009

GB @ 3:57 am #

Just recieved help from microsoft, apparently they have a hotfix to solve the issues of re-arranging desktop icons the links is :

I tried donwloading and installing this but kept getting an error message. May be of help to others.

John @ 7:40 am #

Some of you will never learn. When has MS ever found a patch for whatever messes up your your PC ? Right ! After others have found it first ! Individuals and software manufacturers.

BTW the desktop restore tool works for x64 and x32.

If this fix would work it would prob work as good or bad as all the other tools described in this thread, with the exeption of desktop restore, which so far from all the one's that I've used does what it's supposed to do: restoring desktop positions. I've tried all the other one's, they just don't work all the time.

August 21, 2009

GB @ 7:34 pm #

Further to my last update, I have now managed to extract this MS Hotfix and install. To date (2 days use) it has worked fine with no desktop shortcuts/ icons re-arranging. However, it is still early days so will post a further update if things start re-arranging again.

As a non-technical computer user, we tend to rely upon Microsft for updates and fixes as I personally am very wary of internet fixes, especially when they advise to change registries or the need to install new software etc. It is only from searching forums etc. where there is some advice from others experiencing similar problems that we can learn and make an informed decision on potential solutions. If Microsoft come up with a solution, I would obviously tend to trust that as a safe source. It would seem from the posts above some more technical geeks do not have any faith in Microsft. Looks like "John" may have to eat some 'humbe' pie on this MS fix.

John @ 10:39 pm #

"It would seem from the posts above some more technical geeks do not have any faith in Microsft"

LOL, well yes if you consider yourself a "non-technical computer user", perhaps it's better you wait 'till MS solves "an" issue with the help of one of their own fixes for a given problem.

But wait ?? Is this problem of icons that don't keep their desktop positions a "at least 9 year old problem ? > I recall my XP had that problem too".

I hope you understand that some of us don't have the time to wait that long, so they rely on some sofware manufacturer to solve it in the meantime. And once some software fixes it, why should one revert to MS that seems to have fixed the problem too ?

Anyway let us know when the MS fix fails.

September 11, 2009

Alex @ 8:25 am #

Great!!! Working as described on XP SP2 🙂

September 15, 2009

dwh_72 @ 11:37 am #

DOESN'T WORK FOR ME ON 2 MONITORS. I have 2 monitors on xp pro x86 and it doesn't restore my 28 icons and shortcuts properly

John @ 11:50 am #

LOL dwh_72, since this thread started there have been given some 6 ways how the restore icon thing can be achieved.

Could you tell us which doesn't work for you ?

November 4, 2009

Thomas @ 8:11 pm #

The Layout.dll (and associated layout.reg registry updates) does NOT work on WinXP x64 with dual monitors. I'm not sure what is causing the problem (if its the x64 difference and what in the registry controls things… or the dual monitors).

I'm suspecting is the x64 thing, cause when I was running my x86 (ie 32 bit) version of XP with dual monitors the layout dll/reg worked fine.

All I know is neither the My Computer nor the Recycle Bin icons produce the added items in the right-click menu.

November 5, 2009

John @ 3:46 pm #

Why bother? I've tried those "how to" b4 and yes sometimes it works. Allthough most of the time not.

The midiox link by psymon2 is the only one that works all the time.

November 9, 2009

Scott @ 9:37 pm #

Unfortunately, this doesn't work on my PC for some reason.
It works on my PC at work though, and they both run WindowsXP SP 2.


Scott @ 9:44 pm #

I'm using 32 bit, Windows XP Pro SP2 on both machines.

August 4, 2010

alert @ 2:14 am #

I used to use the layout.dll and registry fix on my vista 32-bit laptop with another monitor and it worked out great.

However, on my new windows 7, it doesnt look like theres any fixes yet?

Whats discouraging is that this happens with games some times, and MS doesnt seem to have an easy way to fix the icons if it does happen. 2 monitors might contribute to it more, but i had the problem with both 1 and 2 monitors in use.

August 18, 2010

alex @ 3:42 am #

it works… thnx very much !!!

October 29, 2010

Small Person @ 2:35 pm #

I did everything it said here, but i have a problem. Excitingly though, this is a NEW problem!

When i right-click on the desktop, or on an icon, neither command appears in the menu…

November 29, 2010

JC Carey @ 1:11 pm #

Worked just fine. Followed instructions exactly. It did take about 30 seconds after I added the registry key before I was able to save the desktop. The save option was there right clicking the Recycle bin, but no message box to confirm my save, then 30 seconds later it started to work.

Anyhow, I did a test by moving icons around and adding icons. Layout put the original Icons back where they were and left the new ones. So you can easily move them where you want.

A big thank you for this tip and I don't think it will corrupt anything. By the way I think maybe Windows Icon settings are causing others trouble. When I right click my desktop, the pop up menu under Arrange Icons is only checked on one item, Show Desktop Icons. You might try checking this if you are having trouble. Hope this helps. Good luck to all.
JC Carey – Win 32 PC XPSP3 Workstation on a MS Domain Controller.

December 29, 2010
July 10, 2011

R @ 5:56 pm #

just try adjusting your icons and then changing the screen res slighly and then changing it back and then close and reopen windows. It should be that simple!

July 12, 2011

John @ 6:07 am #

Changing screen resolution and back and accordingly hoping your icons will restore in the same position could perhaps work for a few icons. Certainly not for many (+50) icons.

I repeat there is no program that can restore all your icons all the time, not even the best one so far in accomplishing this job like the one from

Having said that I've encountered IconRestore's from midox limitations. When used in combination with Fences from it's as good as useless.

May 15, 2012

Kathy @ 12:59 pm #

How can I prevent my igoogle changes on my laptop from changing my desktop igoogle?

October 12, 2012

Philio @ 10:40 pm #

I did the zip file, put the dot-dll file in system32: all that ….just as mucha a mess! Had to uninstall: repeasted clips on the restore after repeated saves did no good.

October 22, 2013

PetOrca @ 10:23 am #

After MONTHS of looking for solutions and trying suggestions
MIDIOX WORKED!!!!!!!!!!!!! Vista 32 bit Op system
I still have the problem of having to move the RIGHT monitor to the LEFT after startup
on a 2 monitor Laptop…SHARKS!!!

June 10, 2014

Chris @ 7:41 pm #

It works for me. I have Win XP sp3 on this computer and it works flawlessly and I have a dual monitor setup with icons on both monitors. To those having problems, make sure you placed the LAYOUT.DLL in the C:\windows\system32 folder, then merge the registry file into your registry and finally make sure to right click on either MY COMPUTER, RECYCLE BIN, or MY NETWORK PLACES to pull up the menu to save or restore icon layout.

October 17, 2014

aviator @ 11:45 pm #

And how to restore icons positions inside of a desktop subfolder? it's ubelievable that XP makes a mess after renaming or moving it.

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