Desktop Icon Save and Restore

Copyright Ó 2001-2020 by Jamie O’Connell


This tiny application operates as a Shell extension.  It records the layout and positions of icons and programs on the WindowsŇ desktop, and permits restoration of the layout.  It appears to operate correctly under Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000 and Windows XP.


I wrote this program after severe frustration of having my layout trashed every time I switched screen resolutions.  Sometimes other programs will switch screen size and trash your layout as well.  This program is an answer to this problem, and I thought other people might find it useful too.



After installation, three new items are available in the desktop context  menu (right-click menu): Save Desktop… , Restore Desktop and Custom Save and Restore…   Right-clicking on the desktop and choosing Save Desktop… stores the current desktop layout into the registry (after verifying that this is what you want), using the current screen resolution as the name.  Once this has been performed, choosing Restore Desktop, will recall the stored layout (for the current screen resolution) even if the icons have been scrambled all over the screen.  You should always re-save the desktop after adding an icon and after changing a desktop icon’s position.


Custom Save and Restore… allows you to:

·         Choose the saved layout to restore. 

·         Store the current layout under a name of your choosing.

·         Delete an existing layout.

·         Save to a layout file of your choice.

·         Restore from a saved layout file

·         Force all layouts into a Vista compatible format.  When this option is chosen, each desktop icon must have a unique name in order to be saved and restored reliably.  


When you restore a layout that contains unmatched, conflicting icons; the conflicting icons are placed in an unoccupied postion on the screen. Unmatched icons are caused by icons being added to the desktop after the last Save Desktop operation.  In this case, some icons may conflict with stored icon positions.  If your restore a drastically different layout than was saved at the current resolution, you may find that some icons are placed out of the viewable area.  In this case you can restore a different layout or toggle Arrange Icons By -> Auto-arrange. Be sure to toggle it back afterward.


To use this application you should not have Auto-arrange set in the desktop menu, “Arrange Icons by”, and it is recommended that you do turn on Align to Grid


You can un-install Desktop Icon Save and Restore at any time by using the Control Panel Add/Remove program facility. 



Tech. Notes: The application is named dkticnsr.dll, and is installed to the Windows System ShellExt folder.  The module is registered with the system as a COM component. The registry key used for storage is: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\JOConnell\DeskTopEach desktop icon is stored as a binary data in a key under this location (under Vista it is stored as a name, DWORD encoded value).


When multiple monitors are detected, the information saved includes the relative positions of the monitors as well as the positions of the icons.  This means that each new monitor position requires a new save of the icon layout before restoration is possible.  This is the only reliable way to store icon positions across monitors.  Even a slight adjustment in the monitor settings will likely require a custom save for the layout.  You can find the current monitor coordinate relationships by choosing Custom Save and Restore…


Change History

10 January 2020 – Version 1.7.2: Maintenance Release. 

02 February 2019 – Version 1.7.1: Maintenance Release.  Fixed a bug associated with long icon names during UNICODE conversion.  It should be compatible with pre-existing icon layouts.

04 October 2016 – Version 1.7.0: Places all menu options under a cascaded submenu called Desktop Restore, adds a Highlight unmatched icons command, and adds a Settings page.  Settings control which commands will show on each menu and which commands will require confirmation before running.

09 July 2014 – Version 1.6.4 Maintenance Release.  New dual-mode installer – detects OS and installs appropriate version (x86 or x64). Save a different Layout for each icon size (small, medium, large) depending on Windows setting.  Fix restore on modern OS’s (Win 7, Win 8, Win 8.1).

12 November 2010 – Version 1.6.3:  Maintenance Release.  Save Layout Files as UNICODE Text.

06 December 2009 – Version 1.6.2:  Maintenance Release.  Bring Command Line version up to date.

26 April 2008 – Version 1.5.6:  Added options to Save and Restore to an external file, as well as an option to force save and restore into using the legacy format that is used under Vista.

10 January 2008 – Version 1.5.4: Fixed a bug regarding Custom Save and Restore: the wrong layout could be restored.

08 January 2008 – Version 1.5.3: Added support for Vista and Vista x64.

24 December 2007 – Version 1.5.2: The actual name or identifier for the file system object is now stored in addition to the icon name.  The old format is still supported for Restore, but the new binary registry format is always written for Store.

23 November 2007 – Version 1.5.1: Combines the Restore Custom… and Save Custom… dialogs into a single Custom Save and Restore… dialog, and adds the ability to Delete a layout.

21 September 2007 – Version 1.5: Adds the Restore Custom… and Save Custom… dialogs, and changes the restoring algorithm for drastically better results.

21 February 2004 – Reworked the multiple monitor support.

14 January 2004 – Added code to keep searching for the desktop ListView.  Added Unicode version for foreign users.

16 April 2003    -- Enhanced for Multiple Monitor Support, and Multiple Screen Resolutions



Please direct all requests, bug reports and comments to the Desktop Restore area of the MIDI-OX Forum.

Please report bugs and direct comments to:

The official application web site is:




Back to Desktop Restore

Copyright © 1995-2008 by Jamie O'Connell. All rights reserved.
This page was last modified on 04-26-08