You have a Windows 11/10 dual monitor setup running, and if you change from the primary display to the external monitor, you may notice that the Desktop icons have been moved to random positions. In this post, we will identify the potential cause of this issue, as well as provide the workaround you can try to help you mitigate the issue.
Desktop icons keep moving randomly to second monitor
You extend your display to an external monitor, and then you make the external monitor your primary display. After you make these changes, your desktop icons move to random positions on the desktop.
This issue occurs, because, to calculate the positions of desktop icons, Windows uses the current display resolution. Windows interprets the change in the primary display as a screen resolution change.
So, if you’re faced with this issue on your dual monitor setup for Windows computers, you can try the workaround described below to get around this unusual display/monitor behavior.
To work around the issue, do the following:
After you change your primary display, simply drag the desktop icons to the desired positions.
If you are looking for more options, try these suggestions:
If you notice that your desktop icons keep moving to the second monitor in Windows 11/10, you can try the recommended workarounds below in no particular order to mitigate this issue.
- Delete the IconCache-Files under the folder AppData.
- Turn off Auto Arrange by right-clicking on a free space on your desktop, and then uncheck Auto arrange icons from the context menu.
- Move your icons back to your primary desktop where you want to have them. But leave one icon behind.
Any of the 3 workarounds should work for you.
How to lock desktop icons in a Multiple Monitor setup
One more thing as it concerns desktop icons is how to lock desktop icons in a multiple monitor setup.
Although Windows 11/10 doesn’t have an option in Windows Settings to lock all the icons on the desktop, you can use the Local Group Policy Editor and Registry Editor to get it done.
If you want to lock desktop icons in Windows 11 using Group Policy, follow these steps:
- Press Win+R to open the Run prompt.
- Type gpedit.msc and hit the Enter button.
- Go to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel > Personalization
- Double-click on the Prevent changing desktop icons setting.
- Select the Enabled option.
- Click the OK button.
To lock desktop icons using Registry Editor in Windows 11, follow these steps:
Press Win+R to open the Run dialog.
Type regedit and press the Enter button.
Click the Yes option.
Right-click on System > New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
Name it as NoDispBackgroundPage.
Double-click on it to set the Value data as 1.
Click the OK button.
Restart your computer.
Apart from these, you can take the help of some tools:
- DeskLock is a free utility to lock desktop icons. After installing the DeskLock app, you just need to right-click on the DeskLock icon running in the system tray, and then select Enabled option to lock down all icons on the desktop. Once icons are locked, it’s impossible to move icons on the desktop by dragging or dropping.
- DesktopOK will Lock, Save, and Restore desktop icons position layouts.
Read next: Desktop icons slow to load in Windows 11/10.