DOWNLOAD: Deskview

One of my favorite programs of the Windows 2000 era was a utility called SetShellView. This little app tweaked the Windows desktop, making your icons appear as “large icons”, “small icons” or as “list view” or “detailed view” – just like any other folder in Windows.

Sadly, this program was not updated for Windows XP.

I searched high and low for a replacement. And for the longest time I couldn’t find one. But one day I found a post at some now-forgotten message board. Someone else loved SetShellView too, and was asking about a replacement. One reply to that post was the cryptic, two-word “Try this:”, with a direct link to a program called deskview.exe. I downloaded it and used it for the rest of my Windows XP days.

As mentioned, deskview.exe changes your desktop icons from “large icons” to “small icons”. Unlike SetShellView, Deskview doesn’t have any options; you just double-click it to change the icons, then double-click it again to return your desktop to the default setting:

Deskview - XP

You can also put a shortcut to deskview.exe in your Startup folder. Deskview doesn’t remember your settings, so if you set it up and reboot your computer (or if Explorer crashes) you’ll need to double-click on deskview.exe and re-organize your desktop icons again.

Deskview works in Windows Vista, but requires some tweaking. By default, it will only shrink your existing icons by a certain percentage. For example, in the following picture the icons were originally set at “Medium icons” before deskview.exe was run:

Deskview - Vista

To really shrink your Vista desktop icons, you need to hold down the CTRL key, then scroll the mouse wheel (this will shrink – or enlarge – the desktop icons), and then run DESKVIEW.EXE to shrink them even further.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not the author of deskview.exe, nor do I know how to contact the author of the software. I have no idea if this software is licensed, and if so, what terms are provided in said license. If you are the author of deskview and want me to remove it, or credit you with its authorship, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Download Deskview
11kb, zipped

148 thoughts on “DOWNLOAD: Deskview”

  1. For Vista: hold CTRL and use your mouse scroll wheel to change the icon size, you can make them as small as normal list view using this method.

  2. Its ok untill the desktop is refreshed
    But when the desktop is refreshed the names of icons overlap on other icons

  3. Indeed, this app is one of the nicest windows tweaks :P ;)

    Its just a simple desktop mod, but it gives so much free space!

    Very good to get comfortable with this gross interface that is windows X.XX (and mac, and linux) (so gross:P )

    The only crap with deskview is that it doesnt cut filenames’s lenght if there are 2 columns. (and if it ever gets to do it, i realy whish it wont make filenames ending with “…”) :P

    Yet, having long filenames has good sides too;)

    So yah, if someone reads this and cares, please give 1000$ to the software’s author :P

  4. Deskview doesn’t work with Windows 7 RC 64bit

    I had gotten it to work with Windows 7 Beta 64bit, but something must have changed.

  5. Works great. It would be nice if I could choose to keep some icons large though.

  6. deepdvd…

    I also had problems with Windows 7 RC 64-bit and DeskView.exe.

    UAC is turned off already. I used the Control Panel GUI and tried the registry method also.

    What steps did you take to get it to work?

  7. I just upgraded to Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit (MSDN subscriber), and I can’t remember doing anything but turning off UAC to get deskview to work in RC.

    Sorry Jay, but I’m in the same boat now. I’ll post here if I get it working again.

  8. Jay, I figured out what I did to get it to work in Windows 7. It probably doesn’t have anything to do with disabling UAC either.

    On both the Beta and RC, I had removed the watermark on the desktop that showed the version by using the tool listed (with download link) below. As a positive side-effect, it was also what made Deskview.exe work!

    Just follow the directions.


  9. Apparently, I was too hasty on my solution. It only works temporarily after you log off after running RemoveWatermarkX64.exe.

    After rebooting, it won’t work anymore.

  10. Apparently, I was too hasty on my solution. It only works temporarily after you log off after running RemoveWatermarkX64.exe.

    After rebooting, it won’t work anymore.

    i agree that……..

  11. Pingback: Windows 7 Ultimate (64 bit)
  12. I had problems getting this to work in Windows 7 x64 Ultimate but finally figured out something that works for me.

    Instead of running the file directly, I created a shortcut to the .exe and ran that.

    I put the exe in C:\Program Files(x86)\Deskview\ Then I put the shortcut in the startup folder for Win 7. C:\Users\YourProfile\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windws\Start Menu\Programs\Startup\

    This way it starts up automatically when I log in

  13. It didn’t work for me on Windows 7 until I went to Personalize -> Desktop Icons, changed those around (I previously had them all off), and re-ran the program.

  14. My Deskview no longer works for some reason, I see the cmd flash like usual but it does nothing anymore

    winxp sp3

  15. please tell me how to ROMOVE THIS FUCKING THING !!!!!!!!!!!!
    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, My desktop become so UGLY LIKE shit

    delete is not useful
    HElp !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. @kyoiroi: Sorry you don’t like it. You don’t have to do anything to “remove” it: just double-click on the app to return your desktop to the previous settings, then delete the DESKVIEW.EXE file.

  17. @Chad: THANKS!

    I just switched to Windows 7 from the RC, and I can’t believe how simple it was to get this to work.

    All you have to do to get deskview.exe to work is…
    Right-click the desktop, Personalize -> Change desktop icons AND uncheck “Allow themes to change desktop icons”.

    After you uncheck that, deskview works perfectly!

  18. I have been using Deskview ever since I found it on this site. IMHO this is an AWESOME desktop tweek. I REALLY like the way the file name are fully displayed (I have lots of files that all start the same and the mouse over is annoying to wait for) and how they never overlap and I get them all close together rather than all over the desktop. Wish you knew who wrote the code I would very gladly register and pay for it (maybe not $1000 but definately $20). Thanks for the Win7 fix. I was depressed that I thought MS had “broken” another great program, but your fix worked.

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