How to lock Windows desktop icons in place

Updated: 09/12/2023 by Computer Hope
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As you use a Windows computer, desktop icons are created and arranged in various ways. By default, the Windows operating system organizes them automatically, even though you may not want them to move around. To prevent Windows from automatically re-arranging desktop icons, follow the instructions below.


The Windows operating system does not allow locking desktop icons in place. You can only turn off the feature that arranges them automatically. To lock desktop icons in place, you must use a third-party application (mentioned below) with an icon-locking feature.

Prevent automatic arrangement of desktop icons

  1. Right-click an empty space on the Windows desktop.
  2. In the pop-up menu, move your mouse cursor over View.
  3. In the side context menu that opens, click the Auto arrange icons option (A) to remove the check mark next to it.
  4. If desired, click the Align icons to grid option (B), if not already checked, to align the desktop icons vertically and horizontally in a grid pattern. Windows still cannot move the icons around automatically.

Disable desktop icon auto-arrange in Windows.

Locking desktop icons using a third-party program

A third-party program like DesktopOK is a great addition for Windows that lets you lock icons in place. This program also lets you lock your icons by screen resolution, which is helpful when switching devices (e.g., switching between laptop screen, external monitor, and projector).