What Is Align to Grid on the Desktop?

By David Nield

Align to grid is a feature included in the most recent versions of Windows, which enables users to automatically arrange icons on the desktop based on an invisible grid. This means they will snap into position when created or moved.


When align to grid is activated, all the icons on the desktop will be moved to the closest spot on an invisible grid so that they line up. They won't be grouped together or moved further than one grid space -- this is a separate feature, called Auto Arrange.


The enabling and disabling procedure varies between versions of Windows. In each case, the process begins by right-clicking on a blank area of the desktop. In XP, choose "Arrange Icons by/Align to Grid." In Vista and Windows 7, the feature is found under "View/Align to Grid" or "View/Align Icons to Grid" on the right-click menu.


It's possible to change the spacing between icons and their size in the Display component in Control Panel. Again, the process varies between versions of Windows -- check the operating system help files for full instructions.