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Windows XP and the Display - Desktop

Toggle Aligning Desktop Icons to a Grid

SUMMARY: Toggle whether or not you want finer control over desktop icon alignment in Windows XP.

Depending on your Windows XP configuration, when you move icons around the Desktop, they may automatically "snap" in place to a pre-determined grid. This means that while you may move an icon a few pixels to the right, Windows XP may move the icons further, making sure they line up in rows and columns.

For some people, grid alignment may make Windows XP Desktop icons easier to find. Others, however, would rather have more control over where their icons should appear. Thus, this behavior can be easily changed.


1. Right-click on an empty area of the Desktop.

2. Select "Arrange Icons By".

3. Check or uncheck "Align to Grid" as desired.

Note that if you turn this off, you must also turn off Windows XP's Auto Arrange feature or it will still forcibly line the icons up to a predetermined grid.


While XP should remember your Desktop icon placement preferences, in some situations it may still 'forget' your settings and rearrange icons.

Return to the Windows XP and the Display - Desktop page.

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The MalekTips website was created in 1998 by Andrew Malek of Envision Programming. The page's goal is to freely disperse computer-related tips, hints, and informative articles. Tips are organized to be easy to find, and are presented clearly, in easy-to-understand language. MalekTips also provides information and links to public-domain, open source, freeware, shareware, and commercial software available for download.