Why Mac OS X Desktop Icons Rearrange or Unsort After Restart and How to Fix It

Have you ever experienced the frustration of organizing your Mac OS X desktop icons only to find them rearranged or unsorted after a restart? You are not alone. This issue has caused headaches for many Mac users. This article will dive into the details of why this happens and provide effective solutions to fix it.

What Causes Mac OS X Desktop Icons to Rearrange or Unsort After Restart?

There are a few reasons why this issue occurs. Let’s look at the main culprits:

Update Issues

Sometimes, updates to the Mac OS X operating system can cause glitches that lead to desktop icon rearrangement. Updating your operating system can disrupt the current settings you have and change certain preferences, including desktop arrangements and app locations.

Cache Files and Preferences

Cache files and preferences are small data files that your Mac OS X keeps to help apps run faster and more efficiently. However, these files can sometimes cause issues. For example, an app could have cached an old version of the desktop arrangement specification.

Third-Party App Conflicts

Third-party apps can also sometimes cause desktop icon rearrangement. Especially those that interact with system settings or prioritize against others preference.

How to Fix Mac OS X Desktop Icons Rearranging or Unsorting After Restart

Now that we’ve seen what causes this issue let’s jump into the solutions on fixing the issue.

Clean Up Cache Files and Preferences

Cleaning up cache files and preferences is essential to maintain your Mac performance and also helps to fix the issue of desktop icon rearrangement after restart. Here are the steps you can follow to clean up cache files and preferences:

  1. Open Finder and click on Go.
  2. Open Library.
  3. Find and open Caches Folder.
  4. Select all files except for the folder (if it is present) or anything that is not Google Chrome if you’re using Google-Crome.
  5. Move them to Trash.
  6. Open Library.
  7. Find and Open Package Folder.
  8. Find and Open Preferences Folder.
  9. Select all files that have the app’s name responsible for the issue (for example, Safari, Chrome, etc.)
  10. Move them to Trash.

Restart the Mac. This solution has helped many people solve the desktop icon rearrangement issue.

Reset Desktop Arrangement

Resetting your desktop arrangement is a simple way to organize desktop icons and folders as well as fix any desktop icon rearrangement after a restart. Follow these steps:

  1. Right-click anywhere on your desktop.
  2. Click on Sort By.
  3. Select a preferred sorting option, such as ‘date created’ or ‘none.’
  4. Check if it fixes the problem.

Remove Conflicting Third-Party Apps

If you recently installed any third-party apps that might conflict with your system settings or desktop arrangement preferences, consider removing them to solve the desktop icon rearrangement issue. Removing conflicted third-party apps have solved the problem for many users.


Mac OS X desktop icons rearranging or unsorting after a restart can be a frustrating experience, but these solutions can help resolve the issue. Cleaning up cache files and preferences, resetting desktop arrangements, and removing conflicting third-party apps all work to solve the issue. Remember that these solutions can help resolve other performance issues you encounter in the future.

FAQs about Mac OS X Desktop Icons Rearranged or Unsorted After Restart Fix

1. Mac desktop icons disappeared, how to restore them?

Sometimes, Mac desktop icons disappear, which can be caused by various issues, not only the ones mentioned above.
Try the below steps to restore desktop icons:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Click on Preferences.
  3. Click on General.
  4. Check the box labeled “Show these items on desktop.”
  5. All desktop icons should reappear.

2. Are there ways to prevent Mac desktop icons from rearranging?

One way to prevent Mac desktop icons from rearranging is to keep your desktop moderately organized, organizing your folders and files in the same order. Additionally, you could consider using the app called Fences or Stacks to arrange your icons and folders.



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Peter Graham
Peter Graham
Hi there! I'm Peter, a software engineer and tech enthusiast with over 10 years of experience in the field. I have a passion for sharing my knowledge and helping others understand the latest developments in the tech world. When I'm not coding, you can find me hiking or trying out the latest gadgets.


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