Windows 7 - "Arrange Icons by Name" doesn't work on Desktop

Asked By Dudley Brooks on 26-Aug-11 07:14 PM
I click it, but the icons remain in whatever unalphabetical order they
happen to be in.

A second question: How do I get files in Explorer to *always* (or, at
least when the window is first opened) show as "Details" and *always*
(or as above) sorted by Name?

Thanks.




Mayayana replied to Dudley Brooks on 26-Aug-11 08:05 PM
|I click it, but the icons remain in whatever unalphabetical order they
| happen to be in.

I do not have a solution to that, but here is something
you might find handy:

http://users.rcn.com/taylotr/icon_restore.html

It puts two items on the context menu for Recylcy Bin.
You can save your Desktop icon layout and restore it.
it is nice for that occasional problem of changing resolution
and ending up with all icons lined up in the upper left.
You could use it to set your icons where you want them and
then keep them that way.

| A second question: How do I get files in Explorer to *always* (or, at
| least when the window is first opened) show as "Details" and *always*
| (or as above) sorted by Name?
|

http://www.jsware.net/jsware/xpfix.php5

See the folder fix download. The gist of the story is
that Explorer stores all folder settings in the Registry,
but it does not do it properly and as a result never uses
the settings it is stored! And the settings are stored based
on screen resolution, so if you change that then any
settings that do work are lost. The XP folder fix HTA/script
fixes settings for all folders you have ever opened, then
sets a default for future folders. It allows you to choose
window size and view style.
I do not know about the Arrange Icons By... setting. I have
only ever had them arranged by name and I have never seen
a folder lose that setting.
Peter Foldes replied to Dudley Brooks on 26-Aug-11 08:49 PM
Unlock your Desktop

--
Peter
Please Reply to Newsgroup for the benefit of others
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Dudley Brooks replied to Peter Foldes on 27-Aug-11 02:43 PM
It *is* unlocked, and Arrange by Name still does not work.

At least, Properties > Display Properties > Desktop Customize Desktop >
desktop might be locked?
Dudley Brooks replied to Mayayana on 27-Aug-11 03:48 PM
Thanks!  It worked well.  The XPFix program looks good too (I have not
tried it yet).


I just realized that I might have been remembering the "non-sticky" Open
command in various apps.
Peter Foldes replied to Dudley Brooks on 27-Aug-11 06:09 PM
Right Click on the TASKBAR and select Properties there and not on the Desktop

--
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Please Reply to Newsgroup for the benefit of others
Requests for assistance by email can not and will not be acknowledged.
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Mayayana replied to Peter Foldes on 27-Aug-11 10:58 PM
| Right Click on the TASKBAR and select Properties there and not on the
Desktop
|

That has no effect for me. But I see the opposite:
I can put the Desktop icons in alphabetical order
whether the Taskbar is locked or not...which makes
sense. Why would the Taskbar relate to the Desktop?
Isn't the "lock" option just to remove the resizing
handles?
Dudley Brooks replied to Mayayana on 28-Aug-11 10:44 AM
Yeah, the only control I see in Taskbar Properties is Unlock *Taskbar*.
But on a lark I tried it anyway; Arrange by Name *still* does not work
on the Desktop.
Dudley Brooks replied to Dudley Brooks on 13-Sep-11 02:33 PM
Doesn't anyone have any idea why "Arrange by Name" is not working?
Dudley Brooks replied to Dudley Brooks on 29-Sep-11 05:25 PM
So does not ANYBODY have any idea???
Smirnoff replied to Dudley Brooks on 30-Sep-11 01:16 AM
Is "Auto Arrange" or "Lock web items on Desktop" ticked?

If so, try ticking (selecting) just "Align to Grid" and "Show Desktop
Icons", then try arrange icons by name.
Dudley Brooks replied to Smirnoff on 30-Sep-11 11:49 AM
Nope.  Nothing is (or was) checked except "Show Desktop Items"


Still does not work.  And the cause and the solution which I just
discovered shows why:

I did not realize that there are actually TWO Desktops, one under All
Users and one under Users/<my name>.  (I discovered this by doing a
search on "Desktop" in the file system.)  it is obvious why this is
necessary.  And it is equally obvious that when I am signed in as User <my
name>, I see both desktops.  But nothing VISUALLY indicates that they
are really two desktops EXCEPT the fact that they sort separately!  (I
had thought that Arrange by Name was not working because It did not seem
to alphabetize the folders.  I had not noticed that it was individually
alphabetizing two separate groups of folders.)

I think this is bad design.  Evidently the items were also divided
between Users/<my name> and All Users back in 98SE, but I was never
aware of it because Arrange By treated them all equally (and because I am
the only user).  I'd prefer that way -- I'd like to have all the folders
THAT I CAN SEE alphabetized together.

Plus it is weird to have TWO folders called My Briefcase, especially
since one of them really is mine but the other really belongs to All Users.

So I solved it by moving all the folders into the same Desktop.  I still
have two folders called My Briefcase, but I am afraid to rename one of
them in case the renaming screws up its behavior as a briefcase
(something which happened to My Documents back in 98SE).
N. Miller replied to Dudley Brooks on 30-Sep-11 12:55 PM
Only if you want a "single user" system.


I do like things the way they are because it allows me to configure
individual user accounts to suit the individual.


Allows for "global", and "local" settings, and uses.


Windows based on the NT kernel is intended for multiple users. If you are
the only user, go ahead and use just one common folder for everything. Just
remember Windows NT (and later) was never intended as a "single user"
system. Setting it up for a single user requires some adjustment in the way
you approach things.

--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum
Mayayana replied to Dudley Brooks on 30-Sep-11 05:13 PM
I had not thought of the 2-Desktop problem,
though I have run into that with the Start Menu.
I put all shortcuts in the All Users Start Menu,
because I like to organize and weed it via
Explorer.

You might find TweakUI XP useful for the Desktop
and other folders. I created a C:\Windows\Desktop
and assigned that via TweakUI XP. As far as I can
tell it seems to be set here:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell
Folders\Desktop

All other Registry paths I find point to the App Data
folders. Yet all software seems to recognize and use
the C:\Windows\Desktop path. And Ido not have to mess
with finding things buried somewhere down in the bowels
of "Documents and Settings". I find it much more
sensible than the ridiculously long paths to App Data
folders, and it is compatible with files from Win9x. (I often
do things like writing scripts where I want to use the
Desktop path.)

There are a number of paths that can be changed with
this method, though most of them are just IE paths (Cookies,
History, Favorites) or My * nonsense.


| I did not realize that there are actually TWO Desktops, one under All
| Users and one under Users/<my name>.

| I think this is bad design.  Evidently the items were also divided
| between Users/<my name> and All Users back in 98SE,

In Win9x All Users was there for App Data, but it was
almost never used. Desktop was C:\Windows\Desktop.
As N. Miller noted, WinNT is designed to be a corporate
workstation OS. it is assumed that you are a corporate
employee, restricted to writing MS word docs to save
in your personal App Data hierarchy. Microsoft has never
bothered to fix that design for the hundreds of millions
of SOHo Windows users, so one has to just make do.

Actually, I do not think it is really that MS has not bothered
to fix it. Microsoft are salivating over the possibilities of
renting software via the "cloud". In recent news they announced
that there will be a new design in Win8:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2011/09/26/signing-in-to-windows-8-with-a-windows-live-id.aspx

People (or "users" as Microsofties know them) who submit
to a Live ID tracking collar will be able to log into their
personalized Desktop from any PC. That idea is potentially
very convenient for many people. At the same time, it takes
a big step toward the cloud marketing ideal of selling you
Windows and then also charging you (or showing you ads)
for everything you do on Windows. (What Mr. Ballmer refers
to cheerfully as "software AND services" as opposed to
SaaS, or "software as a service" which was the term used in
the last rendition of the cloud scam.)

In light of all that, XP's apparent design flaw can be seen
as a deliberate move. If you are not a corporate lackey... if you
own your own PC... Microsoft is getting you used to having
a system administrator control your activity nevertheless. MS
themselves are your Sys. Admin. With Vista/7 it gets worse.
After moving through that process of increasingly restricted
Windows OSs ("for security's sake"), Win7 users will be far
more amenable than Win9x users to the scenario of needing
to log in online so that Microsoft can rent you your software,
allow you access to your pictures, and let you edit your docs --
all the while tracking your actions on- and off-line via your
Live ID. (Though at that point, of course, there is not really
any "offline".)
Dudley Brooks replied to Mayayana on 01-Oct-11 02:22 AM
Yes, I used it a few times under 98SE.  Perhaps I will use it again in XP.

Thanks for all the info.  I agree that the design of Windows is
overcomplicated -- and discombobulated.  For examples, why have what
should really be two folders been lumped into one: "Documents and
Settings".  Microsoft designers do not seem to be capable of
understanding the logic of various categories.

(As someone once said, who but Microsoft would design an OS where, when
you want to turn your computer off, you press a button called "Start".)


Since I never intentionally moved any of my desktop items around, I
figured that either it was somehow caused by the upgrade to XP (but I
could not figure out how or why XP would arbitrarily choose *which* items
to move) or else I had unknowingly made them that way under 98SE and
never realized it because they were already presented "equally" on the
Desktop.  But the truth is, I do not have a clue how the folders got
separated into the two sets.


Yes, as much as possible I am avoiding Cloud Computing.  I hope it
continues to be possible to do so.  (My XP computer is very old, and I
only use it for a tiny number of programs, so I will not be upgrading to
any more recent Windows version.  My newer computer is a Mac -- which is
just as dictatorial and controlling, but in different ways.  If I had
the time to fiddle with my computer more -- and if there were more apps
available -- I'd switch to open-source.
Dudley Brooks replied to N. Miller on 01-Oct-11 02:42 AM
No, for other reasons as well (see below).


Well, *this* individual user would like to have it configured in such a
way that when I look at my desktop it is *not* differentiated into two
different classes of icons/folders -- especially when I never
(intentionally) created some folders differently from others.  (I am not
talking about system or built-in folders; I mean ordinary folders which
I created and named, some of which somehow got put in All Users and some
of which somehow wound up in my personal account.  And the bad design is
that, if it were not for the alphabetizing glitch, I never would have
known that they were two separate groups, because *except* for
alphabetizing separately there is nothing in the display which indicates
that they are different.  Which then makes the weird alphabetizing even
more of a frustrating mystery until you solve it, since its cause is so
obscure.


Yes, I understand.  (As I said, "it is obvious why this is necessary.")
But the bad design is that, again, they are not differentiated in any
way.  They are *both* called "My Briefcase" -- which is stupid already
-- and they look identical, so there is no way of even knowing which one
is All Users and which one is me without clicking on them and opening
them.  Well, there *is* a way: once you learn that the first folders on
the desktop are All Users and the last ones are the individual user, you
can see which group a particular My Briefcase is in.  But it is not
visually obvious.  And, of course, if you arrange folders manually on
the desktop, rather than using Arrange By or Auto Arrange, then there is
no way *at all* to tell which is which.

So, sorry, no two ways about it: bad (and stupid) UI design!


Yes, I have seen lots of discussion about this on the internet.

But I repeat: desktop folders which an individual user creates should
not be "mysteriously" divided between All Users and an individual user
*if nothing visually indicates that this is being done*.
Mayayana replied to Dudley Brooks on 01-Oct-11 09:45 AM
|  For examples, why have what
| should really be two folders been lumped into one: "Documents and
| Settings".  Microsoft designers do not seem to be capable of
| understanding the logic of various categories.
|

I think that folder has been named "Users" in Vista/7,
so maybe someone did get it. "Users", as grotesque as
that characterization is, at least describes the structure:
to read/write files."

But there really is no excuse for all that being forced. There is
no excuse for not having a simple checkbox in the "Users"
applet in Control Panel. Checking "This PC is a single-user
system" would then configure the system appropriately.

(As in Win9x, all program settings could then go to C:\
Windows\Application Data and all personal folders could
then be on C drive.... where there is a chance of people
finding them if they want to back up and do not choose
to use a "backup for dummies" automated program.)

| I do not have a clue how the folders got
| separated into the two sets.
|

it is somewhat willy nilly. If I save a file to the Desktop it
goes to my C:\Windows\Desktop folder. But I have also noticed
that some types of file dialogs will show me the app data
Desktop path instead, or in addition. I have not bothered to
notice which ones do that, but I have noticed enough to know
that I have to be attentive when selecting an Open/Save
location.
When I made shortcuts to my drives (partitions) those ended
up in All Users Desktop, for unknown reasons. There may be similar
forces at work with your folders: Maybe right-click -> New -> Folder
does one thing while dragging a folder does another...or some such.

But look on the bright side. In Vista/7, with virtualization,
it is often not easy to be sure exactly where files, folders, or
Registry settings actually are. Microsoft has thwarted the
whole basic idea of a file system... At least you can figure
out that your folders are in the wrong place.  :)
Mayayana replied to Dudley Brooks on 01-Oct-11 11:33 AM
I did a little experiment with this. When software needs
to know special folder paths, it is in the Registry but the
Windows API provides functions that are supposed to be
used.

Having set the Desktop path as C:\Windows\Desktop in

HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders

by using TweakUI XP, I ran a test and got the following:

This function is the standard API call to get folder paths.
There are two Desktop paths. Software might use either one.

The function SHGetSpecialFolderLocation returned....

Desktop[0]   C:\WINDOWS\Desktop
Desktop [H16]   C:\WINDOWS\Desktop
Common Desktop:   C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Desktop


The following calls were made to shfolder.dll, which is a small
DLL Microsoft made available for software installers, to provide
paths on older systems. it is not needed on XP, but is still used by
some installers, like Inno Setup. That DLL function returned the
following:

The function in shfolder.dll returned...

Desktop[0] C:\Documents and Settings\Sysadmin\Desktop
Desktop [H16] C:\WINDOWS\Desktop
Common Desktop: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Desktop

Already one can see that there is inconsistency even in
Microsoft's official methods, though using the TweakUI XP
method of changing a path in

HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders

seems to be reasonably dependable.

Next I tried changing the path to All Users Desktop in

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders

It did not work. Explorer seems to have a cache of paths. When
Explorer closes it rewrites the Registry with its cache. It may
be possible to fix that glitch, but it would require broadcasting
a system update via API. I have not tested that.

So I guess the conclusion is that changing your personal
paths is realistic, but TweakUI XP is probably using an API
call to tell Explorer to update its settings. That call may or
may not be documented.

Changing All Users paths in accord with personal paths, so
that there is only one path per folder, may be possible, but
also would require programmatically telling Explorer to update its
settings. I imagine there is probably a method for that, since
corporate IT might sometimes need to do such things, but offhand
I do not know what it is, and the option is not offered in TweakUI XP.
Mayayana replied to Dudley Brooks on 01-Oct-11 01:14 PM
I figured this one out. Most folders can be consolidated,
so that All Users and Current User location are the same.
There are Registry keys in both HKLM and HKCU like so:

SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders

SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders

They're basically the same, but the latter is the one you
want for changing paths. Two things to be aware of:

1) Once you create a new folder, such as C:\Windows\Desktop,
you need to manually move all content from the personal Desktop
folder and from the All Users Desktop folder into the new one.

2) In the case of Desktop, your icon layout will be lost during
this process. Before changing the Desktop path, download
Icon Restore and back up your Desktop icon layout. After
consolidating my own folders I re-ran my path test and got
the following:

SHGetSpecialFolderLocation:
Desktop[0] C:\WINDOWS\Desktop
Desktop [H16] C:\WINDOWS\Desktop
Common Desktop: C:\WINDOWS\Desktop

shfolder.dll:
Desktop[0] C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Desktop
Desktop [H16] C:\WINDOWS\Desktop
Common Desktop: C:\Windows\Desktop

In other words, there is a bug with shfolder.dll, but
aside from that Windows recognizes a consistent
path to the folder.

I am glad you brought this up. I have used the same technique
to change Startup, Start Menu, and Start Menu\Programs
so that they all point to a C:\Windows\Start Menu path.
Now I will not have to reorganize Start Menu links when I
install new software. Whether the installer tries to install
per-user or system-wide, the shortcuts will go to the same
place.
N. Miller replied to Dudley Brooks on 01-Oct-11 04:00 PM
I do not have any "My Briefcase" folders. I can create them, but they start
out with "New Briefcase" as a default name; and the name field is
highlighted for changing to a user defined name. When I open the briefcase
in Windows Explorer, the URL bar has this path in it:

| D:\Users\%User_Name%\Documents\Testing

When I create another briefcase with the same name in another folder, the
URL bar shows:

| D:\Users\Public\Documents\Testing

They look different to me!


Because I have rearranged my Desktop icons, I have lost track which are
with a user defined name, I can differentiate which are which by the
Briefcase name.


Indeed.


But I honestly cannot find a "My Briefcase", and when I create a briefcase, I
can name it anything I wish. But I am up to Windows 7, now, so maybe
Microsoft has changed the way things work from Windows XP?



Nearly as I can tell, any Desktop icon created during an application
install, is dependent on the application programmer. Many do default to the
Public desktop. But any folders that I create on the Desktop, will be in my
Desktop, not the Public desktop. And I am reasonably confident that is the
same for Windows XP as for Windows 7 (which is what I am using right now).

--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum
Dudley Brooks replied to Mayayana on 01-Oct-11 04:56 PM
Yes, that does at least make sense.


Sounds good to me.


Sounds weird enough to be true!  ;^)


Unfortunately, I will not be upgrading to Win7 to experience the new
wonderfulness.  <possible sarcasm?>

Thanks very much for all your detailed information, especially in your
next two postings!  One of these days I will have time to start digesting
it and trying it out.
Dudley Brooks replied to N. Miller on 01-Oct-11 05:18 PM
I never created any briefcases.  They were created automatically by
Win98 (which created only one) and, apparently, by the conversion to XP,
since after converting there were now two, the All Users one and mine.

In fact, I have never even *used* a briefcase -- by the time I might have
needed one I was doing all file transfers and synchronization over the
internet anyway.  So, strictly speaking, this is an academic discussion
for me.  Just mentioning it as another example of the weirdness of Windows.


As I mentioned, I was afraid to change the name of a system-created
folder, since doing so had caused problems the last time I tried it, in
98SE.  (I think it was My Documents.)


Ah, but XP does not have a URL bar!


Evidently.


Yes, *that*, at least, I was aware of.  I generally try to install
everything to All Users (kind of irrelevant since I am the only user, but
somehow it seems better to me to put them there).  But I think some
programs do not give you an option.


Evidently *not* the same for XP, since some folders -- BTW I kept saying
All Users and some wound up as personal.  Since I have never logged in
as anyone except myself, I never created any folders except while in my
personal account, so I still cannot explain the All Users folders.  (And
how would you log in as "All Users" anyway???)

The only thing I can think of this:  Many of the folders contain aliases
of applications.  Perhaps if Windows sees a folder containing an alias
of an All Users application it decides that the folder should be an All
Users folder, and similarly for folders containing aliases of personal
applications.  (I do not know what it would do for a folder containing
aliases to both kinds of programs.)

Seems ridiculous, but it is the only thing I can think of.  It does sound
like the kind of crazy thing Windows *might* do.  Although, to be
honest, it sounds more like something a Mac might do, since the Mac
tends to make decisions (too many decisions) for you.
Mayayana replied to Dudley Brooks on 01-Oct-11 05:59 PM
| Thanks very much for all your detailed information, especially in your
| next two postings!  One of these days I will have time to start digesting
| it and trying it out.

Sorry to keep dragging it out, but I noticed
a problem with the Desktop: Moving my Start Menu
into a common folder seems to work well. But when I
put both Desktops into a common folder I started
seeing two copies of all new files and shortcuts I
created! Similar to the problem you are seeing. it is
showing me everything in my personal Desktop folder
and everything in the All Users Desktop folder. But
now that they are the same folder, it shows me two of
anything new! So I had to solve it by creating an
empty C:\Windows\DesktopAll and assigning that
as the All Users Desktop. It seems that Explorer simply
cannot handle a single Desktop folder.
N. Miller replied to Dudley Brooks on 01-Oct-11 07:59 PM
Made me look! I fired up an old Windows ME computer I have on the workbench:
No "My Briefcase" on the Desktop, though I can create one.

While there, I checked the mail server computer (Windows XP HE): No "My
Briefcase" on the desktop.

Both computers (HP Pavilion 6745C) had Windows ME freshly installed from the
OEM suppled CDs, with the one running Windows XP loaded from an Upgrade CD.
Neither have a newly created, by the OS install, Briefcase.


I see a weirdness in that I have two computers which never had a Briefcase
created by a Windows install.



I have no system created Briefcase folders across 6 computers: Windows ME
(x1), Windows XP (x2), or Windows 7 (x4).



You're right. It is an "Address Bar". In Windows ME it shows only the name
of the current folder view. In Windows 7 it shows a complete URL. Oddly, in
Windows XP HE I am seeing a square labeled, "Address Bar" at the far right
of the menu bar, but no actual URL window. Curious.











Probably not. With Windows XP and Windows 7 I just let the installer go with
the default location (with only one exception due to issues with write
permissions in Windows 7).



You do not log in as "All Users". The "All Users" folder is a global folder
accessible by multiple users, where multiple users have been configured on a
computer.

In Windows XP the path is: /%root%/Documents and Settings/%User%/.

On my mail server computer I have, "All Users", "HP_Administrator", and a
third user in place of /%User%/.

In Windows 7 the path is: /%root%/Users/%User%/.

On my primary use computer I have, "Public", "HP_Administrator", and 5 other
users in place of /%User%/.

I do not know why a user created Desktop item should go to "All Users" (or


I actually have no folders on my Desktop; with the possible exception of the
Recycle Bin, which is a system special object. All of my icons are
shortcuts, with the exception of two, or three images.


I do not think I have seen but one application which creates a Desktop folder;
and that is just a container for the unzipped installer files, which can
safely be deleted after the installation is complete.

I have seen one application ask if it is going to be used by all users, or
just by the installing user. I believe that one would create a Desktop
shortcut based on the choice: "All Users" or "Public" if the choice is for
all users, or "%User%", where "%User%" is installing the application.

All other applications install a Desktop icon in the "All Users", or

--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum
N. Miller replied to Mayayana on 01-Oct-11 08:19 PM
That is taken directly from Unix.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unix_directory_structure


When I played a bit with HP-Unix, I had "Root access" on a particular
system. I believe I set up the file system thus:

/
/bin
/dev
/null
/home
/usr
/%User%

Something like that. The user named, %User% would not have root privilege,
and only be able to climb the folder tree to: /home/usr/%User%. It is the
method that Unix enforces access privileges to the file system.

Even with a single user system, it is consider wise to only allow limited
access privilege to the everyday user account; reserving administrative
privilege to the administrator account. This makes the system moderately
more secure against exploit than a pure single user system, like Window
95/98/Me, where any rogue application which insinuates itself onto the
system has full, administrative privilege. In the Unix world they have a
cute aphorism: "Live is a bitch, but having the root password helps".

--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum
Dudley Brooks replied to Mayayana on 02-Oct-11 01:02 AM
Lucky me!  I only use my Windows computer for a couple of old programs I
really like which never issued newer versions -- and I only upgraded to
XP since it networks with my MacBook more easily than 98SE did -- so I
do not use it very frequently and I will probably never get to have all
these strange Windows experiences!  ;^)

Meanwhile, moving all my folders to the single Desktop does not seem to
have caused the same problem you are having.
Dudley Brooks replied to N. Miller on 02-Oct-11 01:28 AM
My Briefcase was there from the start with my HP which came with Win98
(not SE) preinstalled.  So I guess it must have been OEM.  I had assumed
that it was a system special object -- mistakenly, I guess.


Yes, I know.  I was being ironic.  Meaning, I did not see any way I could
have created a folder in the All Users desktop.  But see below for what
I think the explanation might be.


I do not know why either (except see below), but it happened to six
folders which I created.


And the *only* things I have on my desktop (except for the system
special objects) are folders which I created myself.  (Since My
Briefcase showed up without me creating it, I assumed -- mistakenly,
apparently -- that it was a system special object.)


Right, none of the applications I installed created a desktop folder --
I created all the folders myself (except for the two "My Briefcase"s).
The applications merely *installed* themselves either for All Users or
for my personal account.


And I always either delete the Desktop icon or put it into a folder I
create.  (The folders are for different *types* of applications, e.g.
music applications, math applications, office-type applications, etc.)
That's why the only thing that shows up (top level) on my Desktop are
folders.

I have not installed a new application on my Windows computer for so many
years, that I do not remember how many asked where I wanted to install
them. I just remember that sometimes I was asked and sometimes I was not

But in another branch of this thread Mayayana says that moving all the
Desktop items to the single Desktop created duplicates of *all* of them!
(That has not happened to me.)  So I am guessing that the upgrade to XP
took the OEM My Briefcase (which was probably in my personal account)
and duplicated it to the All Users account.  One folder which I did not
create became two folders which I did not create!  ;^)