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Solutions: If computer desktop icons keep shifting, user configuration may be corrupted

I have a Dell Inspiron 580 with Windows 7 (64 bit). I had previously arranged my desktop icons as I wanted, and this worked for the 15 months since I purchased this computer. A few weeks ago, after a normal startup, all of the icons appeared on the left side of the screen. I tried to move them back to their previous positions, but they would not stay. I right-clicked the screen, clicked View and found that "Auto arrange icons" was checked. Microsoft Support is no help — they refer me to Dell, and Dell Support is no help since the computer is out of warranty. I am reluctant to install the repair programs offered online unless you recommend one of them.

It's possible that your user configuration may have gotten corrupted. Try the following in this order: Make sure "Auto arrange" is off and then set your icons as desired. Log off. Don't shut down, just click Start and then on the right select Log off. Log back in and see if the problem persists. If it does, go to Control Panel, User Accounts and Family Safety, Add or Remove user accounts. Click create a new account. Log in under this new account and test the icon settings. If you find that it works as you want, go to and read how to copy your files to the new user account.

For the last few months, whenever I turn on the computer and go into Outlook it immediately ties up the computer for 20 to 30 minutes with "Outlook is Synchronizing Folders." I am using Windows XP running on a 6-year-old Dell. I can do nothing when this is going on. How can I stop Outlook from synchronizing them?

If you're running in a standalone mode, Outlook is just sending and receiving new email. The message can be misleading. A corrupted Outlook storage file could also cause this delay. On the Help menu, click Detect and Repair. Other things to check: Sometimes having the add-in for virus scanning can slow this process down. You can determine this by temporarily disabling it and then observing the behavior on subsequent startups. From Outlook, click Tools, Options, Other tab, Advanced Settings. Click "Add-In Manager . . ." or "COM Add-Ins . . ." button depending on which add-ins you want to enable or disable.

I'm using Windows Live Mail on my Toshiba laptop. When I click on a link in an email, it does not open the link in my browser. Instead this message pops up: "This file does not have a program associated with it for performing this action. Please install a program or, if one is already installed, create an association in the Default Programs control panel."

Check your default programs settings: Control Panel \ Programs \ Default Programs \ Set Default Programs. On the left side, select "Internet Explorer" by clicking it once and then, on the right side, click the Set This Program as Default link.

Send questions to or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: If computer desktop icons keep shifting, user configuration may be corrupted 09/02/12 [Last modified: Sunday, September 2, 2012 8:25pm]
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