If you have a messy and disorganized (Windows) desktop, you are probably taking longer than you should to do basic tasks. Follow these simple tips to make it easier to find shortcuts, launch frequently used applications faster, and make your Windows desktop a more productive environment.
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1. Group Your Desktop Shortcuts
If you have at least 20 different shortcuts on your desktop, you will find that separating them into groups will make it easier to find a particular shortcut. For example, you can put your internet browser and IM apps in the top left, your games on the bottom, and productivity apps on the top. This not only gives your desktop a neater look and lets you see the wallpaper better, but it also makes it easier to find applications.
2. Delete Shortcuts You Never Use
It’s very likely that your computer came with a lot of crapware preinstalled. You should delete shortcuts such as “Sign up with X Company” and “Register with …”. Also remove shortcuts to things you never use, like antivirus. Your antivirus runs in the background and most come with automatically scheduled scans. You will most likely never need to open the main screen of your antivirus program, so why keep the icon on the desktop?
3. Customize Your Quick Launch Toolbar
When you install a lot of apps, some come with the “Add shortcut to quick launch” pre-checked. If you don’t uncheck it, you will have a lot of shortcuts in your quick launch toolbar that are useless. Remove the shortcuts you don’t need, and add ones that you do need. Add programs that you tend to open a lot while another window is open. I recommend having no more than 10 shortcuts, depending on your screen resolution.
4. Get a Clean Wallpaper
If you have a graphic-heavy wallpaper, you might find it hard to find some shortcuts. A multi-color wallpaper might look cool, but your icons will blend in and you will take longer than you should to find them. This doesn’t mean you should use a single color as your wallpaper, but make it something smooth with a specific color scheme, so you can read shortcut names easier.
5. Rename Your Desktop Shortcuts
Your shortcuts shouldn’t be so long that they get cut off with “…” at the end. For example, you can rename “Mozilla Firefox 3.0 RC1” to “Firefox”, “Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended” to “Photoshop”, etc. One line names are even better since they take up less space, which makes your desktop look neater overall.
6. Customize Individual Folders
Make your music folder sort by “title”, and make your pictures folder sort by “date modified”. This is just an example, but I find this useful because if I’m adding new pics from my digital camera, they are titled with random letters and numbers, so sorting by title here wouldn’t work. Date modified will make newer photos show up on top or on bottom. You can customize any folder with different icon sizes, sort orders, and other options.
7. Firefox – Customize the Bookmarks Toolbar
If you use Firefox, you should customize the bookmarks toolbar. I have never seen anyone with a customized toolbar, so I guess many people don’t know you can customize it. You can right click on individual shortcuts and click “Properties”, and change the name of the shortcut. If you have a lot of shortcuts this will make them all appear on one line of the toolbar. For example, you can rename “Gmail – Inbox” to “Gmail”, “YouTube – Broadcast Yourself” to “YouTube”, etc. This will save a huge amount of space on the toolbar. You can also drag the bookmarks toolbar anywhere to save space.
8. Set a Quick Loading Home Page
If you want to get to a certain URL right after opening your browser, you need a quick-loading home page. I recommend iGoogle. If you’ve never heard of iGoogle, go to Google and log in (or create an account), and on the top right click the “iGoogle” link. You can customize iGoogle with different themes and gadgets. The reason I recommend iGoogle is because it loads incredibly fast, even with lots of gadgets. And the gadgets are very useful.
Be sure to comment with your own tips for a better desktop below.