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Thursday, November 09, 2006

How to Reduce Clutter on your Desktop

You don't intend for it to happen, but it just creeps up on you: a cluttered desktop. Files and folders gradually accumulate until finding what you're looking for is like looking for a needle in a haystack. It's entropy in action. However, expending some energy can restore order--to your desktop (of course, at some cost elsewhere). Here are some simple ways to reduce clutter:

1. One way to reduce clutter is to think about what files you've accessed in the past two weeks and move those into a folder called, for example, Working. All other files can go into a folder called Archive. If you have a lot of files, you might just sort them by date modified and put into the appropriate folders that way. Be sure to actively delete what you don't need.

2. An extreme approach is to completely empty your desktop of all icons. To do this, right-click on the Desktop, go to Arrange Icons By, and uncheck Show Desktop Icons. Now only the wallpaper should be showing. This can be helpful if you want to see your pretty wallpaper, or if you want to fill your desktop with useful widgets displaying the weather, RSS feeds, or what have you.

3. Another approach is to put a dropdown Desktop menu on your taskbar. All you have to do is right click on the Taskbar, go to Toolbars, and select Desktop. Now you can quickly scroll through the Desktop menu to find what you're looking for.

4. As for a more conservative approach, most of the time, you won't access applications through desktop shortcuts so you can feel free to delete them. Then you'll only be left with icons like My Computer, Recycle Bin, and whatever other files and folders you find useful.

None of the four options I've mentioned is mutually exclusive so you might choose to implement some in sequence and see what combination works best for you.

What ways have you found to deal with clutter?

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