Desktop icons arranger and placement

I am looking for an applescript or an automator workflow that will automatically resize my desktop icons to 72x72, and put all icons in a specific place.

The problem I am having is at my school some of of the students will alter the size of desktop icons and move the files into a huge jumbled mess. And the problem is when a younger grade student tries to use the computer lab computers they are uncertain as to how to clean up the desktop.

The main problems I want to resolve are:

  1. make the icons 72x72
  2. make the Macintosh HD stay in the upper right-hand corner

maybe the answer lies with a master coordinates mapping, that the computer can use as a reference. Or maybe having the computer use spaces upon student login that would create a nicely arranged desktop. I am not sure where to even begin.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Just trying to ensure easy computing for all at a school.



I recommend to make all settings, save the file as master and duplicate it in each user preference folder
(relaunch the Finder afterwards to apply the settings)

But then how would you “refresh” the “look” when the student decides to jumble it? Ideally I would assume that even on a per-user basis it would be nice to just reset the desktop layout at intervals like every period or once a day or whatever.

Be sure to also account for anything they might save on the desktop to avoid visual/layout collisions between your icons and whatever they might add. Also might want to account for them deleting stuff too…to either regenerate aliases or whatever to truly “rebuild” the desktop setup.

Is there any way to lock the desktop? Might be easier to set it up once then lock it off, honestly. If I spent more time thinking about it, I could probably think of all kinds of odd things kids might accidentally do (or heck, adults for that matter!) otherwise. :wink:

That is a good point. I have noticed when setting up a computer lab for daily use of elementary aged children (K-6) it is near impossible to predict any and all variants they can do with a computer.

I have fought to stop using the simplified finder, because I want the children to have a real experience using a computer, and not a dumbed down user interface.

But because of that they keep trying to alter and change settings, icon layout on the desktop, ect… Just kids being kids.

What I have on all computers at startup is an applescript that changes the brightness settings to max, and the volume to halfway, and then having the dock size set to a certain size. Then when the students use the computers, they can turn the sound way up, kill the display brightness and then when the next student comes in to use the computer it is reset to my specifications.

Below are the applescripts incase anyone else can use them…

Here is the display brightness applescript

tell application "System Preferences"
		set current pane to pane ""
	end tell
	tell application "System Events" to tell process "System Preferences"
		tell slider 1 of group 2 of tab group 1 of window 1 to set value to 10
	end tell
	tell application "System Preferences"
		quit "System Preferences"
	end tell

change the dock settings

tell application "System Events"
		tell dock preferences
			get properties
			--> Dock Controller
			--> returns: {minimize effect:genie, springing delay:1.0, dock size:0.428571432829, magnification:false, springing:false, location:bottom, class:dock preferences object, magnification size:1.0, animate:true, autohide:false}
			set properties to {minimize effect:scale, location:right, autohide:false, magnification:false, magnification size:1.0, dock size:0.5}
		end tell
	end tell

But that you for all of your help guys.


you can use a LoginHook to replace the current desktop folder by a fresh one from a template.
The script runs every time when a user logs in. When you replace also the,finder.plist,
you have always a untouched desktop folder.