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Recently I found my estimated 100 desktop symbols re-ordered in 5 bunches: 4 bunches with one in each corner and one bunch in the middle (leaving more space for more crowd between the bunches :). Unfortunately I was not aware how my symbols have been arranged in that way, I cannot find any menu entry nor do I remember the short cut that I might have pressed accidentally. Do you know how to invoke this function? Since I tried out some Apple menu items I found, I now ended up with the desktop arranged by the grid. But I prefer the bunches.

Update: Ops, it happened again. I hardly assume this automatic arranging of my desktop happens when I connect an external display in mirror mode having a smaller resolution. Now it looks as follows:

desktop icons arranges in bunches

Notice the stacking of symbols in the top right that is the result of a formerly "Clean up" command in the desktop's context menu. But anyway, Mac OS created these 5 bunches again. As there is obviously a feature like that implemented, I am curious if I can run it also manually without connecting an external display to make it happen.

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By "symbols" I presume you mean desktop icons? I have never heard of a built-in way to automatically configure them in "bunches" like you described. It might be helpful if you could recreate the way they looked on your desktop and post a screenshot here. –  Austin May 7 '11 at 18:06
    
Added a screenshot. –  Lars Blumberg May 13 '11 at 13:10
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I think someone like you could really get into BumpTop. Check out this YouTube vid. Unfortunately they were bought by Google a little while back so it's difficult to get hold of the application at the moment. :( –  boehj May 13 '11 at 14:49
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Once the desktop fills up, finder will tile and stack icons with a very small offset. I'd guess the algorithm had a bug or your .DS_Store file was corrupt and the system thought it had more icons to pile than it ended up with.

I dont know of a way to intentionally trigger the effect, but it would be nice to have four or five tidy stacks nice and deep rather than using the whole desktop.

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Now I found out how it happens, please see my updated question. –  Lars Blumberg May 13 '11 at 13:11
    
Wow - I haven't seen the algorithm break like that, but nonetheless - it's not a supported thing to alter the spacing (or it's a really hidden preference that isn't widely known). The picture makes this a much better question. –  bmike May 16 '11 at 19:40
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@Lars I don't think this is a feature, but rather a glitch that @bmike explained in his answer. Maybe you could try placing only 5 icons on your desktop, connecting the external display, and then see if anything happens. Does it happen every time you connect the display? –  styfle May 17 '11 at 3:57
    
No, it happened only sporadically. Now, that I am using Mac OS Lion, it doesn't happen any more. –  Lars Blumberg Apr 25 '13 at 13:49
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