Keeping the desktop clean is important to access the files easily and speed up the booting time of your PC. However, most of us add many files on the desktop to make it clutter. In addition, visually finding a file will become a difficult task with too many icons on a desktop. Some solutions to clean up the desktop include arranging the icons with sufficient spacing and adjusting the size to make them readable. In our earlier article, we have explained how to increase or decrease the Launchpad icon size on Mac. In this article, let us explore how to change desktop icons size and spacing in Windows 10 & 11 PCs.
Adjusting Desktop Icons in Windows
You have different options in Windows 10 / 11 to setup the desktop icons as per your preference. Two main attributes you can modify are the size and the spacing of the icons.
Change Desktop Icons Size
In order to change the icons size, right-click on any empty area of your desktop. Click on the “View” option to expand the menu.
By default, Windows will setup the icons as medium size. However, you can change the size to smaller or larger as per your preference. Remember, even when you have fewer icons, setting up the size as larger will occupy the entire screen. Only use the larger size when you have visual problem to read the captions.
You can also use the keyboard shortcuts to increase or decrease the size of the desktop icons in Windows 11. When you are in desktop, use the following shortcuts.
- Control + Shift + 1 – Very large icons
- Control + Shift + 2 – Large icons
- Control + Shift + 3 – Medium icons (default)
- Control + Shift + 4 – Small icons
Other than resizing, you can also align the icons properly using auto arranging and align to grid options.
- Grid layout will force the icons to align in a grid, which means you cannot freely place the icons on different place. When you drag and drop the icons, it will automatically aligned to the grid position (horizontally and vertically). Disable this option if you want to keep icons on different positions on the desktop.
- Auto arranging will force the icons to align in the column and row format. When enabled, placing icons anywhere on the desktop will auto arrange to the columns.
Changing Icons Spacing
We recommend enabling the grid layout in order to have good looking and avoid overlapping of icons. In grid layout, the spacing between the icons remains same regardless of whether you keep the smaller, medium or larger icons on your desktop. By default, Windows assigns the desktop icon spacing value as -1130 units for both the horizontal and the vertical spacing to keep the space between icons. Unfortunately, you cannot change the horizontal or vertical spacing between the icons with the context menu. However, you can easily change the spacing by using the registry editor.
- Press “Win + R” shortcut keys on the keyboard and open Run dialog box.
- Type “regedit” and enter to open Registry Editor.
- Go to the path “HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Control Panel > Desktop > WindowMetrics”.
- After opening “Window Metrics” double click on “Icon Spacing”
- Modify the “Value data” of horizontal spacing from -1125 to any value between -480 to -2730.
- -480 is the minimum spacing and -2780 is the maximum spacing allowed in Windows.
- Click “OK” to save your changes.
- In order to adjust the vertical spacing all you need to do is double click on “IconVerticalSpacing” key. Similar to horizontal icon spacing, set any value between -480 to -2730. Click “OK” to save changes.
- Restart your computer to view the change in spacing on desktop icons.
In cash if the spacing is not looking good, you can modify or reset to original values by following the same process.
Other Options for Adjusting Icons
In addition to adjusting size and space, you can do the followings to control the visibility.
- Right click on the desktop and disable “Show desktop icons” option under “View” menu to hide all icons on your desktop. You can toggle the option to make the icons visible again.
- Choose “Display Settings” from the right-click context menu on desktop to go to Windows Settings app. Under “Display” section, you can adjust the font size, resolution and orientation of the monitor display.
- By default, Windows uses a drop shadow for text labels of desktop icons. Learn more on how to remove this drop shadow and make the text clearly readable.
Windows is a comprehensive operating system that offers many features to customize the desktop icons and spacing. You can change the size and display with the frontend setting. However, you need to adjust the spacing by modifying registry keys as explained above.
This was EXTREMELY valuable information. Thanx so much!!! :)
I need to change the colour (white) on the description of the Icon, how do I do that. thanks
Thank you! so much :)
Is there a way to do this without the Registry Editor? My company’s IT department doesn’t allow access to regedit.
Sorry, we do not see any frontend settings available for this.
Only Windows can consider it a desirable feature to take away QOL improvements like icon spacing and make it a registry hack.
leave it to windows .. linux looking better everyday!!!!
With the provided info,I have been able consolidate the dektop icon which earlier were scattered.But the right click on desktop blank space does not work in sorting out by name,size/type or date those were modified .Not sure what else needs to be done to make this tab also active though not very necessary.Also, Icons can not be moved from one place to another(moving) on the desktop.Could it be please explained.
Thanks and regards
Thanks for the tip, saved me out of 40 min frustrating attempts to fix a mess of icons, my count was -8650 in spacing! One is sitting on top of the other and only a few visible on the screen.