In Mountain Lion, when I drag a file to the desktop, it's automatically moved to a neat grid in the upper left of the desktop.

But I want it to stay in the spot to which I dragged it (usually because it's one I can see, so I can drag it to another window).

I thought it might be the "sort by" setting, but it's set to "none", so that's not it.

Thanks to those suggesting I change "sort by", but it's already on "none". Here's what's weirder: the files sometimes snap to a neat grid, and sometimes appear near (but not exactly where) I dragged them, with no other changes (I literally tested a few in row from the same program). It's really bizarre since in the answer below, i cannot reproduct this and I'm trying to confirm (for others) that it was fixed by an OS update. The issue may be related to external displays being attached on systems running 10.8.2 and earlier.

  • Then there is something off or you are overlooking something. Are you sure you are looking at the View options of the Desktop?
    – Gerry
    Aug 7, 2012 at 15:11
  • When you wrote "I drag a file to the desktop", I assumed it was a move within the file system. Would it be possible that the issues you describe only arise when dragging from a program? Which one?
    – myhd
    Aug 14, 2012 at 15:09
  • is this really the answer? that all files moved to desktop first go to one inconvenient corner? in 10.7. I used preview very much to divide pdf-files into separate documents just by dragging one or more pages to the desktop - now they all snap to one free space on the desktop - although preferences say "sort by: none".... Did you find a more satisfying answer than "it will always snap to the grid"?
    – user28559
    Sep 4, 2012 at 19:36
  • 2
    I have a similar problem, but only when an external display is connected (so I am using 2 differently size displays). If I drag an image from Safari to my desktop, it ends up about 1000 pixels below where I dropped it (often behind another window). Since this only occurs with an external display attached, I suspect the displacement is related to the arrangement of them.
    – dmnd
    Dec 14, 2012 at 19:16
  • Right-click Desktop and select "Snap to Grid". The option in the context menu will now have a check next to it but at least will release your desktop. This was hellish!
    – Robino
    Jun 4, 2013 at 12:43

3 Answers 3


In Finder: cmd+J ➝ Sort by: none.

  • 1
    The actual window of the desktop has to be selected; the ~/Desktop/ folder has separate view options.
    – Lri
    Aug 7, 2012 at 16:43
  • I assumed the Desktop (not: the folder named "Desktop") was visible somewhere on your screen. Just to make sure, click once on the Desktop background to activate the Finder and deselect any other folders or files, then press the cmd+j keyboard combination. This should do it!
    – myhd
    Aug 7, 2012 at 16:56
  • I tried this, it's already set on "none"
    – Jaydles
    Aug 14, 2012 at 15:03
  1. Right Click on your desktop.
  2. Select “Show View Options.”
  3. In the “Sort by:” drop down, select “None.”
  4. You can now place icons wherever you want.
  • I tried this - it's already set on "none".
    – Jaydles
    Aug 7, 2012 at 18:25
  • 1
    If you add a new file to the Desktop, it will always snap to the grid. You can move it around after that.
    – duci9y
    Aug 8, 2012 at 8:40

This has simply stopped happening. I think it must have been fixed in an OS update as I still regularly have an external monitor connected and no other change was made to my system.

Please upvote this only if you had this problem and it stopped since you updated. I don't want to accept this if others who updated are still having the problem and need help.

  • If you can confirm the exact levels involved, it will help once newer updates arrive and remove doubt for people experiencing the issue as to what updates cleared the issue.
    – bmike
    Dec 14, 2012 at 19:31

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