Organize Your Desktop

Is your computer desktop cluttered with icons? Having trouble sorting through them? I recently read one of those blog posts (Digital Inspiration) that makes you go, “I can’t believe that never occurred to me.”

I changed my desktop wallpaper to this minimalist image of a desk and bookcase, then arranged my icons on the bookcase. How cool is that?

(Thanks to Digital Inspiration for the suggestion of putting the computer and recycling bin with the desk.)

Visit this website to get the image. Right click on it and select “Set as Desktop Background.”

Then go to your desktop, right click on any empty space. Under “View,” make sure “Auto arrange icons” and “Align icons to grid” are unchecked. Now arrange them however you’d like.

Icons rearrange themselves?

Because I move from my laptop to monitors at home and monitors in my office, my screen resolution often changes, and the icons get moved around. Before it was a minor annoyance, but with the bookshelves it’s a bigger hassle. After doing much reading, I opted for a little free program called DesktopOK. It keeps track of where my icons are for each screen resolution. If my icons get moved, I can right click on the DesktopOK icon in my taskbar, and choose the resolution I want my icons to restore to.

DesktopOK initially runs in German. Click on “DesktopOK” then under “Sprache,” to select English, or another language of your choosing.

Remove text from icons

Text is nice to have for some icons, like files and folders. But for others, like Dropbox or the recycle bin, the text just clutters stuff up. For the obvious icons, I got rid of the text.

You’re not going to believe the solution to this one. Right click on the icon whose text you want to delete. Select “Rename.” Now press Alt-255, but the numbers have to be selected using your NumPad. On a laptop, you probably have to use something like your function key to turn on your NumPad. (That would be Alt-Fn-kii on my laptop keyboard.) Then hit Enter. The name has disappeared. If you want to do it with another icon, you have to do Alt-255 twice, then Enter. For a 3rd icon? You got it. Alt-255 Alt-255 Alt-255. “Alt-255” is a keyboard shortcut for a space. See more shortcuts here. Even though an icon can’t be named a ‘space’ with the regular spacebar, it can be with the Alt-255 shortcut. What you’re really doing is renaming those icons ‘space,’ ‘space space,’ ‘space space space.’

Other desktop wallpaper organizers

While I’m partial to the bookcase and desk, you might enjoy a bit more pizzazz. Check out these very cool (free) ones from Clay Butler. Here’s a sample of what they look like.

If you’re the adventurous type, you can create your own using any photo editing program.

Happy organizing!

If you come across, or create, a desktop organizer that you really like, add it to the comments on this post. I’d love to see it!

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5 thoughts on “Organize Your Desktop

  1. hmm, I can’t see how this is an improvement over the two or three columns on the left side of the desktop. It looks a bit too much like that mac desktop craziness that I see on mm’s computer, ‘bookshelf’ imagery or no. Are you sure this isn’t just about cuteness? πŸ™‚

  2. If the columns work for you, stick with them. I frequently use my desktop to temporarily store files (of their shortcuts) while I work on them so I don’t have to dig through folders every time I want something. When I have something to print on my laptop, I’ll frequently print to PDF then save it on my desktop for when I’m connected to a printer. So, what’s in my columns is frequently changing and icons get rearranged. For me, the new setup works. For now. πŸ™‚

  3. I definitely can see the value of the visual metaphor of shelves dedicated to subjects or linked concepts. In my office, I know my stats books are on one shelf, my Social Psych and I/O psych books are on another, etc. This is similar.

    The only issue I see is that lots of icons on a desktop tends to slow a computer down much more than one might expect. Apparently, it involves the managing of drawing of dozens of the various file icons. I keep a very minimal desktop image for this reason.

    However, you can often put an image background for a folder window, and arrange your aliases there. This should not slow down the computer as much (which I find surprising) yet allows the functionality you desire.

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