Windows 10 Icon Spacing: How to Change It on Your Desktop

Space out your Desktop icons for better organization

by Claire Moraa
Claire Moraa
Claire Moraa
Claire likes to think she's got a knack for solving problems and improving the quality of life for those around her. Driven by the forces of rationality, curiosity,... read more
Reviewed by Alex Serban
Alex Serban
Alex Serban
Windows Server & Networking Expert
After moving away from the corporate work-style, Alex has found rewards in a lifestyle of constant analysis, team coordination and pestering his colleagues. Holding an MCSA Windows Server... read more
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  • Many desktops look cluttered and disorganized because the icons are too close together or there are too many of them on the screen at once. 
  • If you want your desktop to be neat and organized, then you'll need to change the spacing between each icon.

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The Desktop is the most visible part of your computer, and it’s where you’ll spend a lot of time. Windows can help you organize your Desktop, but sometimes things get messy, especially with the icon spacing.

Icons are the representation of files, folders, and applications on your computer. They can be moved, copied, deleted, and renamed. These icons may get scattered over the Desktop but you can enable the auto arrange feature for a more seamless look.

Why are my icons spread out on my Desktop?

There are a number of reasons why your icons might be spread out on your Desktop. Some include:

  • Multiple monitors – Your icon may be spread out on your Desktop because you have more than one monitor attached to your computer. Some applications show their icons across all monitors.
  • Accidentally moved them – You can move your Desktop icons by dragging them. A single click can move icons all over your Desktop.
  • Install/uninstalled new programs – Icons on the Desktop are often moved around when programs are installed or uninstalled. When this happens, your icons don’t go back to where they belong automatically.

The default icon spacing on Windows is quite large, especially if you have a lot of icons on your Desktop. This can make it difficult to find the icon you want without scrolling around the screen. You can edit the icon spacing if you want to achieve more organization and neatness on your Desktop.

How can I change the spacing between icons?

1. Manually resize the icons

  1. Hold the Ctrl key then press + or - keys to adjust the size and spacing of the Desktop icons.
  2. As you increase the size, the spacing increases, and vice versa.

While this method may work for some people, some prefer to tweak the setting to achieve the desired spacing level. The Desktop icon spacing may be too wide when you resize the icons using this method making the Desktop look tacky.

2. Edit the Registry

  1. Hit the Windows + R to open the Run command.
  2. Type regedit and hit regedit command
  3. Navigate to the following location: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics
  4. Click on WindowMetrics on the left pane then double-click on IconSpacing on the right pane to modify the value.
  5. Choose any value between -480 to -2730 (-480 is the minimum spacing, -1128 is the default and -2780 is the maximum spacing).
  6. Tap OK to save changes.

These steps are for horizontal spacing. For the vertical spacing:

  1. Click on WindowMetrics on the left pane then double-click on IconVerticalSpacing on the right pane to modify the value. 
  2. Choose any value between -480 to -2730 (-480 is the minimum spacing, -1128 is the default icon spacing and -2780 is the maximum spacing in Windows 10).
  3. Tap OK to save changes.
  4. Restart your computer to save the changes.

If you are doing a free size and selecting random values, you may have to repeat these steps a few times until you get your desired spacing.

3. Use third-party tools

Although Windows 10 allows you to customize the size of your icons and change their spacing, if you have a large number of icons on your Desktop, it can be time-consuming.

There are third-party utility programs that can help you change the spacing between your Desktop icons in a matter of seconds. Such tools also let you adjust other settings, such as icon size, color, and transparency.

Your Desktop is the first place you look when you power on your PC and the last place when you shut it down. As such, it is important to keep it organized because it can help you stay efficient and boost productivity.

Hopefully, one of these methods has helped you with ways how to reduce space between icons on your Desktop in Windows 10.

As you saw above, changing the icon spacing on Windows 10 was easy and quick to do. If you would like to do more with your Desktop, we have outlined some Desktop customization software that will address a lot of your needs.

If you struggle with organization, you will be relieved to find out that there exist Desktop app launchers to free up some space and streamline your work.

Do let us know if you have been successful in adjusting your Windows 10 icon spacing in the comment section below.

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