What to Do When Desktop Icons Move Randomly When Connected to an External Monitor in Windows 10

So, you have just set up a new Windows 10 rig with dual monitors. However, when you switch to the primary display, you notice that the Windows 10 desktop icons keep rearranging.

Well, fret not. Many Windows 10 users have had the same issue. That is why in this article, we aim to help you identify the possible cause of the problem and provide you with potential workarounds that could mitigate the issue.

Why Desktop Icons Keep Moving Randomly

This issue commonly occurs when you are trying to extend to an external monitor. In this setup, Windows is trying to calculate the desktop icons’ positions. Your system is trying to interpret the changes in your primary display.

How to Fix Desktop Icons That Keep Rearranging in Windows 10

Without further ado, here’s how to actually solve your desktop icon problems in Windows 10.

Fix #1: Disable the Align icons to grid option and auto arrange them.

This fix is pretty straightforward and can be done in a few minutes. Here’s how:

  1. Right-click on your desktop. Choose View and untick the Align icons to grid option.
  2. Reboot your computer and see if the problem has been resolved.

Fix #2: Try changing the Icon View.

Some Windows 10 users have successfully resolved the problem by simply changing the Icon View. Here’s what they did:

  1. Right-click on any blank space on your desktop. Select View and switch your current view to another. For instance, if you are using Small Icons as your display, change it to Medium Icons.
  2. Now, revert to your preferred view. Say, select Small Icons again.
  3. You should then see the changes on your desktop. By doing this, the icons should no longer rearrange themselves.

Fix #3: Clear your Icon cache.

Caches can make things easier and quicker for you. But there are times when they mess up with your system. The same applies to your icons cache. So, it’s worth trying to clear your Icon cache every now and then. This could possibly fix the problem.

Here’s how to clear your Icon cache:

  1. Be sure to save all your work before closing your active apps and windows.
  2. Open Task Manager by pressing the CTRL + Shift + Esc keys.
  3. Right-click on Windows Explorer and click End Task.
  4. Select File and choose the Run new task option.
  5. Into the text field, input cmd.exe, and hit OK.
  6. Next, enter the following command:
    CD /d %userprofile%\AppData\Local
    DEL IconCache.db /a
    EXIT
  7. Hit Enter.
  8. Close the Command Prompt.
  9. Now, launch Task Manager again and go to File > Run new task.
  10. Into the text field, input explorer.exe, and hit OK. This will restart Windows Explorer and hopefully fix your desktop icons problem.

Fix #4: Uninstall your graphic card drivers.

There are instances when problematic graphic card drivers trigger issues with your Windows 10 display. If this happens, your best solution is to uninstall them.

Here’s how:

  1. Press the Windows + R keys to launch the Run utility.
  2. Into the text field, input devmgmt.msc, and hit Enter. This will open the Device Manager.
  3. Now, expand the Display Adapters section.
  4. Right-click on your current graphics card and choose Uninstall.
  5. When asked to confirm, click Yes.
  6. Next, press the Windows + X keys. Choose Control Panel.
  7. Select Uninstall a Program.
  8. Choose uninstall everything related to your device driver.
  9. Reboot your PC to save the changes.
  10. Finally, download the setup files of your device driver from the official manufacturer’s website.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, what we have shared above has fixed or stopped Windows from rearranging your desktop icons. While some of the recommended Windows 10 repair solutions may sound technical, as long as you follow the steps carefully, you should get by.

Do you know other solutions that can keep Windows 10 from rearranging your desktop icons when connected to an external monitor? We’d love to know. Share them below.

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