How to move icons on the desktop

The arrangement of the icons on the desktop, especially if you need to have many files, folders and programs always at hand, is a very important aspect in the organization of your devices: precisely with the intent of ordering the icons on your PC – or even on a mobile device – you have decided to dedicate yourself to creating a new, more comfortable and functional layout. However, you are not sure how to do it: maybe you can’t move the icons freely, or you would like to know how to move them automatically based on certain criteria.

If that’s the case, don’t worry: you’ve come to the right place at the right time. In this guide, in fact, it will be my job to explain to you how to move icons on the desktop , both on Windows PCs and on Macs, in many different ways: manually, automatically, with or without a mouse. In addition, I will tell you about the mobile world by explaining how to proceed on Android devices and on iPhones and iPads.

All you have to do is get comfortable, take a few minutes of time and carefully follow the directions I will give you. I am sure that, with a little effort, at the end of the reading you will easily succeed in your intent and you will be able to make the most of all the personalization and organization options offered by your desktop. Enjoy your reading and have fun!


  • How to move icons on the desktop: Windows 10
    • How to move desktop icons freely
    • How to move icons on the desktop without a mouse
    • How not to make icons move on the desktop
  • How to move icons on the desktop: Windows 7
  • How to move icons on the desktop: Mac
  • How to move icons on the desktop: Android
  • How to move icons on the desktop: iOS

How to move icons on the desktop: Windows 10

So let’s start with Windows 10 and Windows 11 : the steps to take are the same on both operating systems.

If you want to move the icons on the desktop so that they are sorted by name , date , size or type , you can do so by moving the mouse pointer over an empty area of ​​the screen and right clicking : in the menu that is shown to you, locate the item Sort by and click on it, this time with the left mouse button, to open a second menu. Here you can select, again by pressing left, one of the four options available to automatically move the icons: Name , Size , Element type , orLast modification . The icons already present on the desktop will then be immediately moved according to the order you have chosen.

Maybe you want to arrange them manually , according to your personalized order: nothing could be simpler. In this case, all you have to do is click on the icon you want to move and hold the button down while moving the mouse to drag it to where you want to move it : once done, release it by lifting your finger from the button. You will have successfully moved the icon to its new location. You can repeat the same process with all the icons and determine their order and position on the desktop as you like.

How to move desktop icons freely

How do you say? Did you follow my directions to move the icons manually, but every time you try to drag them do they go back to their original position? Don’t worry: this means that your PC is set to Auto Arrange , the option that allows the system to place icons on the desktop independently according to a predetermined grid. Enabling this feature prevents you from moving icons by freely dragging and dropping them on the screen.

To deactivate it, click on an empty spot on the desktop with the right mouse button, to open the context menu, from which you can select the View item : here you will find the option Arrange icons automatically , next to which there will be a check mark that indicates its activation. Once the entry is located, left click on it to remove it and disable the option.

Once this is done, you can select the icons by holding down the left button and moving the mouse to drag them where you prefer, exactly as I indicated in the previous chapter .

How to move icons on the desktop without a mouse

It may happen that the mouse, for various reasons, does not work: if it is a wireless model, for example, it may happen that the battery runs out at an inappropriate time. In short, it is easy to find yourself using the PC without the physical support of the mouse. In this case, you can rely on some alternative ways to interact with the computer.

The first solution is to use the keyboard as a mouse as explained in my tutorial dedicated to the subject. Alternatively, if you have a laptop, you can use the built-in trackpad . If it is disabled on your computer, you can consult another guide of mine to know how to enable it .

Alternatively, you could think of using your smartphone as a remote mouse thanks to some apps, available for free on both Android and iPhone, for example Remote Mouse , which can be found on the Play Store and alternative stores for Android and on the App Store for iPhone.

After installing the app in question, you must also install the official client on your computer: to do this, connect to the official download page and click on the Download it now and Windows buttons . When the download is complete, start the RemoteMouse.exe file and click on the Yes , OK , Next and Finish buttons to complete the setup.

Next, start Remote Mouse on your phone, follow the initial tutorial, make sure your computer and smartphone are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, press the Ok, I understand and Allow buttons and select your computer name in the app.

You can thus simulate the left click by touching the smartphone screen with one finger, the right click with two fingers and drag by holding and moving your finger on the surface. Convenient, right?

How not to make icons move on the desktop

Now that you have dedicated yourself to the arrangement of your icons on the desktop, there is only one question left: how not to make them move and keep the order that you have carefully organized every time the PC is turned on, even if the screen resolution is changed. Well, Windows offers a simple solution to this need as well.

Also in this case you have to access the menu that opens by right clicking on any empty part of the desktop and select the View item by pressing the left mouse button: in the second menu that will appear there will also be the Align icons to grid option . It too has a check mark next to it, if it is already activated. If it isn’t, click to activate it.

By doing so, the files, folders and shortcuts on your desktop will keep the exact same location you indicated.

Alternatively, you could click on Arrange icons automatically : in this case, Windows will choose an arrangement for the icons, which you can still change by choosing from the options Name , Size , Element type and Last modified . For more details, I recommend reading my guide on how to lock the position of icons on the desktop .

How to move icons on the desktop: Windows 7

On PCs with Windows 7 operating system, the procedure is similar to the one I described in the chapter dedicated to Windows 10 . Once the system has started up regularly, you can move the icons manually, click on one of them with the left button and hold down while moving the mouse to drag it to the new position, then release it.

If, on the other hand, you prefer to have them moved automatically, right-click on the desktop to open the context menu with the Sort by item , to choose by pressing one of the available options and move the icons in order of name, type, last modification or size .

How to move icons on the desktop: Mac

Even on Mac the manual movement of the desktop icons works through the drag & drop system , that is the simple dragging of files, folders and programs and the release in the new position, valid for all versions of the macOS operating system. Then click on the icon to move and, holding down, move the mouse pointer towards the release point, then lift your finger and let go of the button.

For the automatic movement and arrangement of the icons in a certain order you can instead rely on some macOS features, which you can access by right-clicking on any empty spot on the desktop and clicking on the Sort by item in the menu that opens. Here you can select one of the available order options: name , type , date of last opening , addition , modification , creation , size , or tag , by pressing on the relevant item in the menu that appears to organize them automatically.

To fix the arrangement of the icons and make sure that they do not move, right-click once again on an empty area of ​​the screen and then on the item Sort by : now, select the Align to grid option . This will not make any changes to the positioning of the icons even if the screen resolution is changed. Easy, right?

If you can’t use the mouse, the solutions I’ve provided for the Windows operating system are also valid for macOS. First of all, you can think of using the keyboard as a mouse as explained in my dedicated tutorial or, if you have a laptop, the integrated touchpad (also available separately for fixed Macs).

Even Remote Mouse , the smartphone app that you’ve previously discussed, is available on the MacOS official download page of the client, by clicking on the button Download it now and then on the Mac voice to be redirected to the program of the Mac App Store page: click on the View button in the Mac App Store and then on the Get / Install button in the window that opens. Once you have also installed the app on your Android and iOS smartphone and connected both devices to the same Wi-Fi network, you can follow the same instructions that I have provided in the dedicated chapter to select, drag and drop the icons to your liking on the desktop from the smartphone.

How to move icons on the desktop: Android

How do you say? Would you rather know how to organize your icons on an Android device , moving them on the Home screen as you like? Again, the procedure is pretty simple: all you have to do is press and hold the icon and move it to its new position in an empty space on the screen, then lift your finger and release it. If, on the other hand, you want the icon in question to be one of the four in the foreground (in the grid at the bottom of the screen), you can drag it down and leave it in its new place: in this way, it will be visible on all screens.

Perhaps you would just like to move the icon to another screen – if so, by holding down on it, move it to the edge of the screen to the right or left, depending on the target screen. When the next screen appears, drag the icon towards the center and drop it where you want.

If, on the other hand, you want to bring an icon in the drawer (the menu with all the apps installed on the device) to the Home Screen, you can select it in the device, hold down and drag it to the desired point on the Home Screen.

For information and additional details on how to organize the Home screen on Android, please also consult this guide that I have dedicated entirely to this topic.

How to move icons on the desktop: iOS

The icons on the home screen of both iPhones and iPads can be easily moved in a similar way to that described for Android devices: all you have to do is press on an icon, hold down and wait for all the icons to start “dancing “.

Once this is done, you are free to drag the icons where you want, holding down on them and moving them to the new position, moving them to the right or left to switch them from one screen to another; to select more than one, press with another finger on the other icons you would like to move. To move them, instead, in the Dock bar at the bottom of the screen, you will have to repeat this operation first by moving one of the four (the maximum number available) already present, and then dragging the new ones into it. Finally, you can confirm the new arrangement by pressing the Home button on the iPhone or iPad.

You should also know that iOS 14 and iPadOS 15 and later also offer a useful tool for organizing apps, App Library : this feature allows you to automatically move apps both according to categories (such as Productivity, Social, Games and others) that based on the latest additions or the Suggestions which, based on the use of the apps in the previous days, include the most used ones.

To use this function, scroll to the last screen of the Home and tap on the App Library icon to access the categories already available: pressing on the larger icons will automatically start the relative app, while instead, tapping one of the more small, the folder will open. If you want to delete a Home screen icon to display it only in the App Library, press and hold on it, and then tap the Remove app and Move to app library items in the menu that is shown to you. To move an icon from the App Library to the Home screen, instead, make a long tap again on the icon in question and then select the Add to Home option .

by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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