How to organize your Windows desktop (and how to keep it)

The desktop of your computer is the ideal place to set up shortcuts and various links: here you can have everything just a click away, without making any intermediate steps. The problem that often arises is that after a few weeks (in the worst cases after a few days) the overcrowding of icons could create an incredible chaos.

In this article we will tackle the problem to find a solution to this age-old problem, keeping the desktop tidy and above all keeping it clean and easy to use.

Put order on your desktop by hiding the icons

If you do not use your desktop much, but the programs you install continue to create shortcuts, here’s a quick solution: hide everything to get a perfectly clean desktop.

To enable or disable desktop icons, right-click on the desktop and select View – Show Desktop Icons. In doing so, the desktop will appear totally empty.

To display the icons again, click the Show desktop icons option again. Or, you can open an Explorer window and click on the Desktop folder to view its contents in a window.

This is the extreme option, of course. On the other hand, the desktop, if used and managed properly, is indeed a strong point of any version of Windows: perhaps it is the case to look for less drastic solutions.

How to quickly sort the icons on your desktop

It is often not the number of on-screen icons that is disorienting, but the chaotic arrangement.

To better organize the shortcuts that crowd the desktop, you can right-click anywhere on the screen and select the Sort by item, then choose a criterion such as NameModified DateSizeElement Type and so on.

This kind of operation makes it easier to find what you’re looking for if your desktop is very messy. You can also use the options in the View menu to choose the size of desktop icons and decide whether to align them in a grid.

If you deselect Auto Arrangement Icons, you can drag icons anywhere you want. If this option is enabled the icons will always be grouped one after the other.

Use folders to sort icons and various shortcuts

Another pretty good solution to put the mess in your desktop is the use of folders that contain the various icons. This is a rather basic principle, which is at the basis of the window system of modern operating systems.

To create a folder, right-click on the desktop, select New – Folder and assign a name to it. Drag and drop items from the desktop directly to the folder to bring them into it.

You can double-click on a folder on the desktop to open it, so it still takes a few clicks to open the files, but it can still be considered a good compromise between order and convenience.

Of course it is important to group the icons into appropriate folders, divided by theme. In this way, in addition to dramatically reduce the confusion on screen, you will have a decent order on the desktop.

Use the desktop as a temporary workspace

The desktop is a great workspace, as it offers you a very visible place to store files to work with. For example, you could archive spreadsheets you’re working on, documents you’ve scanned, photos you’ve just taken, or things you’ve just downloaded to your desktop.

Use it this way, however, has a rather heavy price: within a few days, you’ll find yourself with a screen full of documents to view all the same and a crazy chaos.

To keep the desktop useful and prevent it from becoming too messy, try storing files on your desktop for as long as you need to do a specific job. When you are finished with a project or activity, move the associated files to another folder, perhaps dividing them by extension or type of file.

Use the taskbar

Programs often add shortcuts to the desktop when they are installed, which makes the desktop more and more cumbersome over time. Try placing the program shortcuts elsewhere, for example on the taskbar or in the Start menu.

To add a shortcut to the program on the taskbar, right-click and select Add to taskbar. It always appears as an icon on the taskbar and you can drag the icon left or right to position it.

To get more space for the icons on the taskbar, you can remove some items to free up space (if you have a laptop or otherwise if you use a low resolution, it could be very useful). For example, to hide the Cortana search box on Windows 10, right-click the taskbar and select Cortana – Hidden.

The start menu

You can also enter shortcuts directly in the Start menu. To do this, right-click on a link and select Add on startup:

  • in Windows 10, it will appear as a box on the right side of the Start menu
  • on Windows 7, it will appear as a shortcut on the left side of the Start menu.

You can also block apps directly from the Start menu: right-click on a link in the list of all apps in the Start menu and select Add to Start or drag the icon to the app area you’ve added.

On Windows 10, you can drag and drop application shortcuts pinned to the Start menu to organize them into groups and click on the header at the top of the group to give it a name.

Also, if you use Windows 10, you can unlock all blocked apps that Microsoft has placed there by default on the Start menu.

After moving all the shortcuts you want in the taskbar and in the Start menu, you can delete them from the desktop.

If you accidentally delete a link and want to restore it to your desktop, open the Start menu and look for a link in the list of all installed applications. Drag and drop the shortcut to the desktop.

Use appropriate software

If all the previous tricks have not led to decent results, perhaps it is appropriate to rely on specific software.

Although there are several, what stands out most is Fences of Stardock. This handy utility creates rectangles on the desktop. You can create all the boxes you want, rename them and assign them with different colors. This program works similar to the Stacks function that Apple added in MacOS Mojave.

By moving files, folders and shortcuts in and out of these enclosures using the handy drag and drop method, you can easily reorder your desktop. If you create a fence that is too small for everything you have inserted, a scroll bar will be created at the edge of it, which you can use to scroll through its contents.

Fences also adds two other small features. First, you can double-click on any open space on the desktop to hide all fences and icons they contain. A quick double-click allows you to review everything.

The other interesting thing is that the panels created always remember their position on the desktop. If you’ve ever played a game and you’ve had to change the resolution of your monitor, you know that it can upset the layout of the icons on the desktop. With Fence’s boxes, the icons always remain where you’ve placed them.

Fences costs 10 dollars, with the possibility to try the program completely free for 30 days. It’s about personal tastes: if you’re particularly comfortable with this app, shopping is absolutely more than justified.

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