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Issue #792: Sep 25 – Oct 1, 2022

Q: I recently bought a new HP desktop computer and a HP laptop both running Windows 11. I use them both for business. I have 4 businesses that I manage using my computers. I use mostly use Excel programs. I have about 60 program icons on my computers. My 2 computers have about 90% the same icons.

My problem is that the icons I use on a daily basic keep moving around on both computers. The ones that I seldom use stay put. I waste time looking for a particular icon that has moved among the 60 others. How do I make them stay put?

Another Item that is not a problem.  After I set up the 2 computers, I noticed that when I made a change to one of my program icons on the desktop the change appeared on the same program on my laptop. The same thing happens when I make a change on my laptop, the same change is on my desktop. It is nice not having to update both computers. I do not know why this happens.

– Bert M.
Niceville, Florida

A:  I sure can see where it would be a problem for you if you have that many icons on your desktop, and when you go to click one it’s not where you expect it to be.  But, let’s be clear for my less learned readers.  When Bert says his icons “keep moving around” he doesn’t mean that as he sits and looks at the computer screen, that the icons are in motion, moving from one place to another.  He means that he puts the icons where he wants them, and either they won’t stay there, or once he reboots his computer, they have moved to different locations.

There are a limited number of things that can cause your icons to change positions Bert.  One of them sticks out to me, and you might be surprised when you find out how simple the fix is.  Windows has a setting that allows the icons to be arranged automatically – thereby taking the burdensome task of arranging icons out of your hands (I doubt the intended sardonic tone translated well to print, so you’ll have to use your imagination).  I’m more poking fun at Microsoft, and not at you, Bert, as they seem to think maybe when you drop an icon somewhere that you don’t actually mean it, and what you really are doing is releasing that icon to Windows to do with it as it sees fit.

All of this is encapsulated in a little selection that you can see by right-clicking your mouse in any empty space on the desktop.  In the context menu that appears, there is a slide-off menu under “View”.  On that menu, you will find check boxes labeled “Auto arrange icons” and “Align icons to grid”.  By default in Windows 11, the selection to automatically arrange the icons is enabled.  Uncheck this, and control of where your icons live will be returned to it’s rightful place, and they should stay where you put them.

Like the icon arranging, your other problem that you say isn’t a problem, really isn’t a “problem” – it’s another Windows feature, this time it’s something called “Syncing” (as in synchronizing) and it is enabled by default in Windows 10, and which uses your Microsoft account in Windows 11. 

When you personalize your PC, system settings are saved for your user account, passwords, your desktop background picture, the arrangement of your icons, the system theme, and a whole lot more.  If you then use that same Microsoft account to sign-into multiple PCs, Windows assumes that it will be convenient for you if the personalizations follow along with you.  I can envision times when this would be highly desirable, and times when it would be irritating and frustrating.  Regardless of which it is in your case, it seems obvious that this is what’s happening.

At this point, I’m going to simply refer you to, which is an article on Microsoft’s Windows Support pages that contains the “how-to” information about turning synchronization on and off.  The article covers both Windows 10 and 11 and should have everything users of both platforms need to make decisions and implement syncing in the manner that works best for you.

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