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12Ghosts SaveLayout

12Ghosts - SaveLayout


What does it do for me?

Keep changes to your desktop icon layout once and forever. This is the final answer to the Windows desktop imperfection, keeping a strong backlog of icon layouts. This way you can never lose a layout again. Restore automatically at resolution switching, or when the taskbar is moved. Transfer icon layout between Windows versions and PCs. Restore even files from different sets of desktop files, including your wallpaper. Serval desktop management commands, like shut down with one click, start applications from the context menu, clear temporary folders, hide all windows, even those that can't be minimized, and even quick resolution switching.

This tool will help give you more confidence in your desktop. You intuitively know the position of your desktop icons. This way you can locate icons much faster than in an alphabetically sorted list. Now you can rely on and use the full functionality of your desktop.

Tray notify icon, hotkey, and FlyingIcon help you to access 12-SaveLayout faster. Command line options for shortcuts, batch files, or backups. Create as many different layouts as you want. Gives you full control over your icons!


Where should I start?

Start 12-SaveLayout and open the settings. Make sure that the AutoSave path is set up correctly after the first installation. You may change the number of different versions and the time how often it should be saved, according to your needs. 30 minutes and 100 versions is probably right for most users.

Note that only changed layouts are saved. So if the layout doesn't change for 100 times 30 minutes you still have your last 100 different layouts saved, not 100 times the same layout.

Include your SL AutoSave folder to your backup to secure it even more. At least create a copy on a second disk, CD-R, or simply on a floppy disk.

Handling .SL Files

AutoSL works completely automatically. However, you may want to create layout files manually, and you can do so easily. Right-click on your desktop and select New - Save Layout. This creates an empty layout.sl file on your desktop. Double-click this .SL file to save your layout. To restore, right-click the .SL file and select 'Restore Layout'.

You definitely want to try this just to see our little SL animation, which only works for .SL files on the desktop.

You may create a shortcut to do this automatically, for your backup program, or to be called from 12-ShutDown automatically before shut down:

    12savelayout.exe /s PATH         /s to save
    12savelayout.exe /r PATH         /r to restore
    12autosl.exe /savenow same as Save Next Version Now

Restore at Startup

AutoSL does this automatically, but if you don't want to use AutoSL, create a shortcut in your Startup folder that consistently restores your layout each time you start Windows. The Target line of the shortcut should be similar to the following:

"C:\Program Files\12Ghosts\12savelayout.exe" /r "C:\path\to\your\desktop\Layout1.sl"

Multiple Layouts

If you wish to save several different layouts, for example, for different screen resolutions, you may create a new .SL file and rename it to 'My layout for 800x600.sl'. Now change the resolution, arrange your icons accordingly, and double-click the new file to save the layout. (AutoSL does this automatically when you change the resolution.)


Create a Layout with Contents

Select 'Restore with Contents' in the context menu. This submenu has commands to save and restore your desktop. First select 'Save Current' to create a copy of your current desktop.

The contents includes your wallpaper, all shortcuts and files on your desktop, and of course the position of the icons. This allows you to work with different sets of icons in different situations.

It's easy to select a layout in the context menu. You may also open 12-SaveLayout settings and click on Restore with... where you can configure the restore entries. The plus button creates a new layout with the current settings. If you select an item in the list, which is not the current layout, the minus button deletes the selected layout. Below the list you may enter a descriptive name. Just double-click one of the entries to restore it.

(You may call 12autosl.exe with the command line paramter /restore:N, where N is a number between 1 and the number of layouts as they appear in the 'Restore with Contents' submenu.)


FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Why can't Windows itself keep the Layout?

You may wonder why the layout is not saved automatically by Windows itself. Usually this is the case! Windows does save the layout when the user logs off or shuts down Windows. As with any normal folder, its layout is saved automatically when it is closed. However, the desktop cannot be closed short of logging out and leaving Windows.

Let's think about it. There are some instances in which this method cannot work: a power failure before saving, when you inadvertently select Arrange Icons, when the desktop (Explorer.exe) has to restart for whatever reason, or when another program initiates a refresh to the desktop because a file type has been changed, etc. Beyond that, there is one inherent problem: when you change the display resolution from, let's say, 1024x768 to 640x480 or when you move or resize the taskbar, half of your icons will be hidden and inaccessible. What now?

You would need a tool to save and restore the appropriate layout, and not mechanically but at your command only. 12Ghosts SaveLayout enables you to handle all the situations described above. You will have the relaxed feeling of having a saved layout in your backup, either in a file or maybe a copy on a second disk. Or you may have several different layouts that you can switch between. Layout files can be restored at any time and are easily transferable between different PCs and Windows installations.

Can Microsoft do it Better?

Ideally, in order to prevent a layout from not being saved, you would have to be able to control each change, movement, and renaming of icons on the desktop. In that case you'd never have an unsaved layout.

The desktop itself is simply a control, a "COM" or "ActiveX" control, and this control could best handle the saving of any changes in the icon appearance or layout. But were it to do this, then it would suddenly have a lot of extra work to do; it would have to watch and save every change, and not only those made to the desktop but to absolutely everything under its umbrella. The desktop already is a quite extensive control, but if it were any bigger and slower it wouldn't do anybody any good. Expanding the tasks of the desktop doesn’t sound like such a good idea after all.

Other possibilities for implementing this watch dog function would be in the parent application of the desktop control, the Explorer, or by entering a "hook" in the command message exchange of the operating system in order to filter out the related messages. Well, Microsoft did not do that, and to be honest, we wouldn't have liked having to do this kind of work either. We don't even know of a tool that implements such a hook.

If you consider it a bit more carefully, even if we had this functionality, it would only take care of half the problem. This functionality would deal with the power supply failure, but not the problems arising when another program initiates a restart on the Desktop or when you inadvertently select Arrange Icons from the desktop's context menu. The automatic feature of the control would, in the latter instances, jump in and save the changes, thus causing your 'good' layout to be lost. OK, you may ask to confirm the saving after each and every change, but is this something that you really want to do?

In actuality, there is no other solution: when you want to save your layout, click on Save Layout. Keep a copy of your saved layout. If it happens that you need to restore it, click on Restore Layout. That is how SL works. Could it be done any better?

SL also provides the "lumberjack" method: Just save a new version of your layout every couple of minutes to a new file and relax. Don't worry about all the problems described above!!! No matter what happens, with 50 or 100 previous saved layouts you will always find one good layout.

AutoSave saves up to 100 different versions, up to every minute, to a folder that you can specify. You can restore older versions as easily as clicking on undo/redo. That solves both problems: first, should the layout get saved at exactly the wrong moment, you can always restore a previous version as needed, and second, you can restore the version you want, when you want.

I want the same for Documents!

Yes, we know what you must be thinking: multiple copies of your important documents, automatically stored every couple of minutes...?! AutoSL is a pretty nice piece of work, alright. We thought, hey, if it is good for SL, why not make the functionality available for documents, too?

This concept initiated the creation of 12Ghosts HyperBackup. This handy tool is often just sitting there and doing nothing until a change occurs in one of the watched files. Then, an additional copy is backed up, so that you end up with a history of all changes. This is very comforting.

Why does SL use a file instead of the registry?

The idea of using a file is to give everyone the opportunity to move, copy, and backup the settings as easily as possible and as often as desired. We think that this is easier with a file than with a bunch of registry keys.

Besides, Microsoft recommends that you do not save more than 2 KB of data to the registry, but instead to revert to a file. With 50 icons on your desktop, each SL file is about 2 KB.

Furthermore, it is possible to transfer layouts between computers and even different Windows versions, by merely copying the file. If you have several Windows versions installed on one machine you can keep your single, most preferred layout file in one location accessible by both installations.


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