Save Your Desktop Layout


Let me guess: you sneezed and Windows rearranged your desktop icons. This happens for a variety of reasons, most commonly any time Windows changes the screen resolution (often for games), when you update your display settings, or when you install a new video card driver. But it’ll also happen whenever you use the Magnifier tool that comes with Vista, or when you change the desktop icon size (discussed next). Regardless of the trigger, it’s a petty annoyance we all could do without. There are a variety of tools designed to combat this problem, but most have died out for one reason or another. The quick and dirty—not to mention free—solution is to use an add-on released by Microsoft several years ago; with a little tweak, it works just fine in Vista (32-bit edition only). Here’s how you install and use it:

1. Go to and download the file, saving it to your desktop.
2. Open, and inside you’ll find two files. The .dll file you can find elsewhere on the Web, but the other (the .reg file) has been specifically modified for this book to work with Vista.
3. Copy the layout.dll file to your C:\Windows\System32 folder.
4. Double-click the other file, install.reg, and answer Yes when asked whether you want to continue. (See Chapter 3 for more information on .reg files.)
5. Next, right-click an empty area of your desktop and select Save Desktop Icon Layout.
6. The next time Windows messes up your icons, just right-click an empty area of your desktop and select Restore Desktop Icon Layout.

Now, if Windows isn’t spontaneously rearranging your desktop icons, but refuses to let you put them where you want them, there’s a fix for that, too. This problem is caused by either one of two mechanisms designed to help keep your desktop icons tidy, and you’ll have to turn at least one of them off to more freely place your desktop icons. Right-click an empty area of the desktop, select View, and turn off the Auto Arrange option.


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