Desktop icons move from main screen to extended screen monitor

I have been using this setup with my laptop for 18 months so I am familiar with extended screen usage.  Two days ago a problem started.  I have a laptop with 17" screen set to the Main Display plus a 22" not checked to be the Main Display.  Screen Resolution > Multiple Displays = Extend these displays.  Desktop right click > View > Auto Arrange is Not checked.  Sort By options are unchecked.  Personalization > Allow themes to change desktop icons is Not checked.

I have all my desktop icons arranged on the laptop screen which is set to be Main Display.

New Problem: 

When I plug the extended monitor cable into the laptop or when I fresh bootup or if I had changed the Appearance settings from extended to duplicate or to the external 22" to be off and then turn it back to being extended, any of those things, to basically use the 2nd monitor as extended will cause all the desktop icons to move to the extended 22" screen space.  They are supposed to stay anchored to the laptop Main screen since that is how it is allocated.  This worked fine until two days ago and I was not playing with any settings before it happened.

If I unplug the external monitor or set it to be unused or as a duplicate image then the icons return to the main laptop monitor.

I use a freeware IconRestorer to save and restore the last saved desktop layout.  Since this problem started it restores to the extended monitor not back to the laptop main screen like it had previously.  I have killed IconRestorer from the background to see if it was causing the problem and it had no affect.

With the icons showing on the extended 22" monitor and I unplug the video cable for it the icons move to the laptop screen however they are rearranged.  Each time I try that the icons form a different layout and order on the laptop screen. 

I can then run IconRestorer with the 22" still unplugged from the laptop and all the icons will be restored properly.  So I conclude IconRestorer is working fine.  The problem seems to be that Win 7 thinks the Laptop screen is not the main screen even though it is checked as to be the main screen.

Once only while repeating these various steps, after the icons are restored with the 2nd monitor unplugged, then plug it back in all looks fine but if I do the IconRestorer restore all the icons again get placed to the extended 22" screen.  Usually plugging the extended monitor back in causes the icons to jump to that monitor.

Note that when the laptop is checked to be the Main screen the taskbar is located on the laptop monitor so it only partially thinks the extended screen should be the main screen.  If I set the extended 22" as the Main screen then the task bar jumps to the extended screen and all the desktop icons come back to the laptop screen.

It never worked like that before.  I also am running win 7 on desktop with 4 monitors and all icons being on main screen at far left and that still works fine including the use of IconRestorer.

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Question Info


Last updated November 14, 2019 Views 171,590 Applies to:

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Hi David,

 

You may try these steps and check if that helps.

 

Method 1:

Uninstall and reinstall the Display adapter drivers make sure it’s updated. To download the latest version of drivers you may visit the manufacturer's website.

Follow these steps to uninstall and re-install drivers from device manager.

 

a. Click Start, type Device Manager in the Start search box and hit ENTER.

b. Click View on the Menu bar and select Show hidden devices.

c. Locate Display adapter drivers and expand the same.

d. Right click the network driver and click on Uninstall.

e. Now, install the latest network adapter drivers.

 

In the meantime, let's refer to this link for more information:

Update a driver for hardware that isn't working properly

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/Update-a-driver-for-hardware-that-isnt-Working-properly

 

Method 2:

Since the issue started to occur recently you may try performing a system restore to a point where it was working fine.

 

To know how to perform a system restore you may refer the following link:

System Restore: frequently asked questions

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-in/windows7/system-restore-frequently-asked-questions

 

Please let us know the issue status.

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Method 2:  Unfortunately I did have auto restore points running so the most recent restore point was from 2010.

 

Method 1:    Failed to help.

I uninstalled and deleted the driver (by checking box to delete it), rebooted. 

Windows Update ran automatically after the reboot.  It updated the Intel graphics driver.  This is a Dell laptop. 

Rebooted. 

2nd monitor remained unplugged through all of this.

Icons appeared on the laptop screen but somewhat scrambled.  Ran IconRestorer to put them back in place.

Plugged in 2nd monitor and all but two desktop icons jumped to the 2nd monitor with main taskbar staying at bottom of the laptop screen.  I looked, the laptop screen is checked to be the main display.

 

I had not been doing this before this problem and do not do this on my desktop but for this experiment after restoring the icon locations with IconRestorer I remove it from running in the background before plugging in the 2nd monitor.

 

Do you have any other ideas?

 

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Hi David,

 

Which edition of Windows are you working with?

 

You may try these steps:

 

In the screen resolution window kindly check if the laptop screen is the first display or not. If the laptop display is not the first display, please change it to the first display by dragging it.

 

Once it’s done you would get the option to put a check mark where it would say make this your main display.

 

Note:

When I say first display, it means marked '1'

 

You may also try to uninstall Security software and Icon Restorer.

Disable antivirus software

Turn Windows Firewall on or off

Warning: Antivirus software can help protect your computer against viruses and other security threats. In most cases, you should not disable your antivirus software. If you do have to temporarily disable it to install other software, you should re-enable it as soon as you're done. If you are connected to the Internet or a network during the time your antivirus software is disabled, your computer is vulnerable to attacks.

 

 

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Win 7 Home Premium with Service Pack 1

 

The laptop screen always shows as screen 1, the 22" external screen always displays a 2.

 

I always run the setup with the Laptop screen being checked "This is currently your main display".

 

Note: with the external monitor plugged in and set to extended screen the desktop icons jump to the screen 2 however the taskbar stays locked at the laptop screen.

If I set the external screen 2 to be the main display the desktop icons will jump back to the laptop screen however the taskbar jumps to the external screen 2.

This implies it does know which monitor is the main screen however it has decided to not keep the desktop icons on the main screen when there is an extended screen.  If screen 2 is set to be duplicate everything looks fine.

 

Experiment:  Assigned screen 2 to be the main and then resetting the Laptop 1 to be the main the desktop icons and the taskbar return to the laptop as they should.  Two icons remained on the screen 2 extended screen.  This is good.  I had tried this last week and it had not fixed the problem.

I moved those two wayward icons where they should be, saved the layout with IconRestorer and reapplied it and everything remained as it should!  I rebooted with the screen 2 plugged in and all is still fine.  I unplugged the screen 2 and plugged it back in and again all is fine.  The problem appears to be fixed.  Appears related to assigning screen 2 to be the Main however why that failed to fix it last week I cannot guess.  The difference is that I deleted and reinstalled the graphics driver between tests of reassigning the Main display choice.  I didn't try anything with my McAfee security suite, windows firewall is not being used. I didn't uninstall IconRestorer.

 

 

Thanks for your troubles.  I hope to not have to report more trouble with it.

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thanks so much this worked like a charm for me.

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Didn't work for me. I run Windows 10 on Toshiba laptop with and 23" LG extended monitor. Selected the LG as the main display (botton taskbar moved to it). As I returned to the integrated display of the laptop, only the taskbar returned. Screen icons again moved to the extended monitor.

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I am also running widows 10 and this just started happening to my setup.  Been fine for a couple of weeks and now my icons show up on my "extended" display and my taskbar on whatever I have set as my main..

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Hi there

It happened to me too, today actually. Been trying to reset and restore and all, nothing works.

All of my icons go from 1 screen to 2 screen. I wonder if it is because 1 screen is on the right and 2 screen is on the left and the icons are logically placing themselves closer to the far left as they are used to automatically be since the first windows.

Anyways, I tried a bunch of things and nothing worked.

I too, run Windows 10 on a Tower PC with two screens.

Thanks to anyone that dares to answer this... : )

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This is a bug that's been there for years and not fixed. here's how I work around it:

For me this problem only occurs when I have moved my default second screen to the left of the main monitor - the taskbar stays with the primary monitor but all the icons shift left onto the second monitor.

  1. Plug in the second monitor which physically sits to the left of your primary screen
  2. Right click the desktop, choose Graphic Options>Output To>Extended Desktop> Built-in display + Monitor.
  3. Extended desktop enabled, but screen 2 (on the left) can only be accessed by moving the cursor to the right!
  4. right click the desktop and choose Graphic Properties - choose 'Multiple Displays' from the side menu.
  5. Move monitor 2 from it's default 'Right' side to the left - ALL THE ICONS GO WITH IT to screen 2 but the taskbar stays on the primary monitor!!!!!
  6. Click 'Apply' to accept this (temporarily) - close the 'properties' window.
  7. Right Click the desktop, but this time choose 'Screen Resolution'.  Ensure that screen 2 is to the left - if not, move it.
  8. Click on screen 1 and ENSURE IT SAYS 'This is currently your main display'
  9. Click on screen 2 and tick the box that says 'Make this my main display' - the taskbar should move to screen 2.
  10. FINALLY click on Screen 1 again and tick the box that says 'Make this my main display' - the taskbar AND ALL THE ICONS should move back to screen 1.

Works every time for me.

BE AWARE - there are lots of bugs around extended desktop - beware of letting the machine hibernate or sleep in extended desktop mode and disconnecting the extended screen - mine wakes up defaulting only to the extended screen (my main screen is blank whatever I choose to do) - Blind hard reboot required

every time and lost data ensues...

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BUG IS DUE TO INCONSISTENT ORIGIN OF ICON POSITIONING WITH/WITHOUT EXTENDED DISPLAY

This bug needs to be fixed by Microsoft.

I have an extended second display set to portrait on left Of my laptop display when at home office; when I travel, I do not have it connected. 

When I position icons as desired on my main laptop display, their positioning seems calculated from upper left corner of extended display when it is connected, but from upper left corner of main laptop display when it is not. 

If I disconnect or reconnect the extended display, the icons either shift position or get scrambled.  When I travel without the extended display they shift down-right on the main display as though calculated from the disconnected, now missing, extended display at left, and some move off the screen down-right completely and cannot be found or moved back. 

File explorer shows the missing icons as present on the desktop, but they are not visible and there is no way to move them from File Explorer to a visible position on the desktop, as Windows says they are already there, though they are invisibly positioned.  The only way to get them to show is to use "Automatic Positioning", which scrambles them.

A correct fix must be to freeze positioning reference to main screen origin position regardless of presence or absence of extended display.  This needs to be a setting, preferably a default, that is now missing in Windows 10.

Do you hear me, Microsoft????????

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