Thursday, January 2, 2020

Day 2: Organize Your Computer Desktop

Like your physical desktop, your computer desktop can quickly become cluttered with files from past projects. Regardless of which operating system your computer uses, you may find that you're saving items to the desktop without putting them away when you're done with them. So let's use this day to see what is on our computer's desktop, and start the process of moving those files elsewhere.

Let's start by identifying what should be on your desktop. It's fine to put transient files there, ones that you may have recently downloaded from online and which you are already able to delete because you've dealt with the file in some other way (perhaps sending it as an attachment to a friend). Once you have successfully worked with these files, and the downloaded file is no longer needed, go ahead and move it to the trash.

If you are starting with a fair number of files to deal with, go ahead and review them (hopefully the names alone will tell you what they are), moving the no longer needed ones to the trash. What do you do with the remainders?  They will fall into two categories: ones that you are currently working with, and ones that are part of some past project that you want to archive.

For the files that need to be archived, you could rename each one of them and then move each of them to the right folders, but this might take some time today if you have a lot of them. And we'll get to organizing your non-desktop files in a few days. So I would suggest, for now, moving all of them to a folder called "!Inbox".

At this point, you should have very few files remaining on your desktop. To reduce clutter, you may even want to create a desktop folder with the name of the current project, and move all of those files into it. That will leave you with a single folder icon on your computer's desktop.

The toughest part of this process is to create the habit of dealing with new files as soon as you put them on the desktop (either by deleting them after they are used, moving them to the !Inbox for later filing, or moving them into a current project folder).


  1. Click on the header (in red): It should bring up all the posts, just scroll down to see previous posts.

  2. You say "The toughest part of this process is to create the habit of dealing with new files as soon as you put them on the desktop". This is true of handling paper files and mail also. "Handle once" is the general rule for an efficient office. I try to allow 1/2 hour at the end of my workday to cleanup all papers, mail, and digital files. If I leave it to tomorrow, it just begins to pile up and gets harder to handle!!

  3. Somethin* that has helped me is a wonderful app from Stardock called Fences. It creates areas/boxes to contain different items on your Desktop . I keep it simple with 4 boxes- READ, ACTIVE SEARCH, RESEARCH MATERIALS, SHOEBOX. I use it on my work computer as well.

  4. I agree with Unknown, the only icons on my desktop are ones created by Fences. I have four "Fences". One called "Folders" for my main drives, one called "Genealogy", one called "Wrod" for my work and another called "Desktop" to catch anything that goes to the desktop (like a new program that tries to put an icon on the desktop). I also use the Taskbar for the main program I use like Excel, Word and a few others. Fences are set up open when I hover the cursor over them.

    In my "Folders" Fence I also keep icons for my various drives plus one for my Download folder and another for a folder I call Temp (Desktop\Temp) for things that are only needed for a short time. This leave my desktop completely clean.

    My "Genealogy" Fence include a shortcut to my genealogy programs, websites like GedMatch, and to my main Genealogy folder in OneDrive.

  5. I set my computer up so that when I download a file, it asks me where I want to save it. Then I choose or create a folder to put it in and name it correctly. That prevents items being saved to desktop or the downloads folder automatically and keeps me organized so i can find it again.