Lock desktop icons in place?

Looking for suggestions on how to deal with rogue desktop icons that have a mind of their own.

I’ve gone super minimal on the desktop icons and have 4 that I like to keep for quick access to projects. The issue is that when I (dis)connect my MBP and my external monitor, my icons fly off wherever they please. I would love to know if there’s a way to have them reposition themselves in the same place each time I (un)dock. (I used to use Stay to remember window position per monitor config, but even it doesn’t support icon placement.)

I do have Snap to Grid enabled. Disabling it is a bit of a deal breaker since I often put temporary files on my desktop as I work and need to have them looking neat.

Currently running macOS 12.4 on 16" Macbook Pro M1 with an ultrawide external display.

I’m also running Keyboard Maestro, Hazel, and Better Touch Tool if any of those have any undiscovered potential to handle my issue.

I have Sort by Date Added selected, and the newest file is always at the top right of the screen. All the other icons adjust accordingly. I would think Sort by Name would have the effect you’re looking for, albeit in alphabetical order rather than a manual sort.

I’ll admit though, I’ve never seen the behavior you describe, where disconnecting the external monitor causes icons to move.

You could try ‘Stacks’. Right click on the desktop and select ‘Use Stacks’. Stacks will organize your disk and file icons by type and the positions remain relatively constant. I like the Stacks feature a lot. All of the Disk icons appear on the right side at the top and documents are organized into stacks. For example, PDF documents appear in a stack. If you drag a document onto your desktop it will be put into the appropriate stack.

@Cindy You bring up a good point that I suppose I wasn’t really considering which is that I’m trying to keep my icons top-center on my monitor in either configuration since I quite often have 2 vertical windows open to the left and right of my desktop (leaving an open “workspace” in the centre).

I understand that this is a non-standard way to organize things, but it would be my preference if possible.

@bx987 I have experimented with stacks but it’s not exactly what I’m after.

Thank you both for the suggestions. I think I need to keep exploring other options for now. :slight_smile:

I suspect one problem is that “top center” is very different for a large external monitor and a small(er) laptop screen.

I don’t know how Apple determines either, or how it decide to move things when screen size changes. I would imagine it isn’t an easy problem to solve…

I’ve started using an external monitor occasionally, and I’m unplug it without ceremony if I’m changing location.bI’ve been at once impressed and frustrated by how macOS responds. For the most part, I can keep working – windows seem to stay a reasonable size despite suddenly having much less real-estate and different proportions available to them. But a ometimes a window is squeezed into a small rectangle in one corner, and I’m not sure why. :man_shrugging:t2:

Disclaimer: I’ve not used this app.

Desktop Icon Manager might do what you want.

It does look interesting and I may give it a try.

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Very interesting. Thank you @MevetS
I’m finishing up a project right now but will check it out tomorrow. :nerd_face:

I’ve tried out the Desktop Icon Manager, which works perfectly for what I’m after. Thanks, @MevetS for tracking that one down for me. I’m actually shocked at how well it responds to display resolution changes. Definitely gets a +1 from me if anyone is looking for a utility for this purpose.

Cool. Glad It worked for you. I just installed it this evening (we were traveling last week, and then when I got home Saturday there was no power in my home office … grrr … fixed this morning).

I have one use case, setting icons on a secondary monitor. The help docs state that this will probably work, but is technically not supported. We’ll see what happens tomorrow when my shared monitor (not the one with the icons) is assigned to my work laptop.

One other cool thing, the first version was released in 1998 and the most recent just this past February.