Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

The Strange Case of the Missing Icons*

Folks, another crazy day. The following re-posted older article is not relevant to those of you on Vista or Windows 7. (Those folks may want to scroll down to the “today’s free link” section though…)

A rather upset person called my shop complaining that their machine had “a virus”, and they wanted me to “fix it”.

There was nothing terribly unusual about that, but their answer to one of my basic questions was unusual– what is happening that makes you think your machine has been infected?
A: “When I turned on my machine, several of my icons were gone.”

That answer (and a few others) told me that, yes, my client’s machine had been altered, but not by a hacker unusedor spyware or virus infection. Their machine had been altered by a “helpful” Windows XP feature called the Desktop Cleanup Wizard.

The Desktop Cleanup feature keeps track of your usage of the icons on your desktop and periodically (every 60 days) offers to remove the icons you have not recently used. Sometimes it will run when you aren’t looking.. which is what happened to my caller.

The icons are not deleted, they are moved to a folder and you can put them back on the desktop if you want. The folder is C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Desktop\Unused Desktop Shortcuts.
It will also place a shortcut to that folder on your Desktop, as shown.

Tip of the day: Turn off the automatic aspect of the Disk Cleanup tool, and avoid those pop-up balloons and “missing” icons.
1. Right-click a blank spot on the desktop, and then click Properties to open the Display Properties dialog box, click the Desktop tab.
2. Click Customize desktop to open the Desktop Items dialog box.
3. Click to clear the Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every 60 days check box.
Click OK twice to close the dialog boxes.
unchk

* To run the Wizard manually, click Clean Desktop Now on the Desktop Items dialog box. You can perform a manual cleanup at any time, even if you have disabled the wizard.

Today’s free link: Rick Robinette over at What’s On My PC.com turned me on to this: Your icons on the computer screen, over the life of the computer, will start to war with each other. Watch what actually can happen – Click here for a video capture of icons who thought their owner wasn’t looking. [The video is in Adobe Flash]

* This question has come up twice this past week, so I decided to repost this article. It first appeared 8/25/08.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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January 4, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, tech, tweaks, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments