Organize your messy computer desktop once and for all

We all spend a lot of time looking at our computer desktop, and between opening programs and switching between browser windows, it often becomes a dumping ground for all sorts of miscellaneous items: shortcuts, downloads, screenshots, documents, archives, and more. more.

Because it's so easy to access, everything from meme templates to financial reports can find its way to your desktop - but over time, you may find yourself struggling to find (or even lose) what you need stored there. document. Additionally, the desktop can become quite ugly because the wallpaper you selected is obscured by icons.

If you feel like your desktop has become too cluttered to be useful, here are some ideas for clearing it. Just like a tidy office or home, a tidy desktop can improve your mood and productivity.

General desktop tips

One way to declutter your desktop is to simply start deleting everything you no longer need, which may take more work than you think. Remember, the Recycle Bin on Windows or the Trash Can on macOS can serve as a safety net if you delete something you later realize you really need.

If you decide you need the files, folders, and shortcuts you've accumulated on your desktop, you can drag and drop them into other folders (or use the Ctrl+X/Cmd+X and Ctrl+V /Cmd+V cut-and-paste keyboard shortcuts key). Organizing files isn't the most fun thing to do on your desktop or laptop, but it can save you a lot of time and stress.

One way to keep your desktop tidy is to create a folder on it to house temporary files: it's still easily accessible from the desktop, but it means the screen won't be covered with thumbnail icons. Only save something here if you know you'll only need it for a short period of time - for example, an installer downloaded from the internet, or an image you'll edit and then upload.

Then, semi-regularly delete everything in the folder - you don't need to go through the files one by one because you know you won't save anything in it if it's really important. For important files, make sure you take an extra second or two to save them somewhere other than your desktop.

Windows desktop

Windows does provide some built-in tools for keeping your desktop organized (and snapping layouts to organize the windows on your desktop). By right-clicking an empty area of ​​the desktop and selecting View , you can align the desktop icons to the grid (requires some manual control), automatically arrange them in the grid (requires no manual control), or hide them completely (which is buried instead of Solve the cluttered desktop problem, really).

This should give you a cleaner desktop, especially if you combine it with spending a few minutes deleting and moving files. Of course, you can move files from your desktop to one of the folders on your desktop by dragging and dropping them on top of the folder thumbnail.

Right-click on an empty area of ​​the desktop and select "Sort by" and you can change the order of files on the desktop: they can be sorted by "Name" , "Size" , "Item Type" or "Date Modified" . This can help if you want to delete files from your desktop and want to know which files are the largest or oldest.

As you'd expect from Windows, there are plenty of third-party tools to help you spruce up the look of your desktop. Portals is one of those tools that is definitely worth a look. It is free to use, but some features require a license key: the developers only ask for a voluntary donation of a license key, but if you can afford it and find the program useful, please pay a reasonable amount.

Portal places windows in other folders on your desktop, so you can easily drag the files you want to keep into specific folders while deleting the rest. These windows can be customized according to their style and position, and even adding just a few windows can have a big impact on how your desktop is organized.

Stardock's Fences costs $9.99 per year, but offers a free trial. With Fences, everything stays on the desktop, but all icons are sorted into more manageable floating windows, unlike the folders you can create on your smartphone's home screen.

macOS desktop

Right-clicking on an empty part of the macOS desktop brings up a list of options for better arranging the icons on your desktop: "Clean" will organize everything into a clean grid, and " Clean By" lets you set Some sort of sequential grid (e.g. icons could be sorted by date or name).

These are one-time sorting options that still give you some flexibility, but the Sort By menu gives your desktop a tighter structure. Files can be organized using a variety of criteria from file type to file size, and you can enable the Snap to Grid option if you'd like to keep everything locked into rows and columns.

Select Use Stacks from the right-click menu, and macOS will group the files on your desktop into virtual heaps (or stacks): all images on top of each other, all PDFs on top of each other, and so on. It's a quick and easy way to keep everything on your desktop organized, although it makes it a little difficult to see what files you have.

Click on a stack to expand it and manage files individually. If you select Show View Options from the right-click menu, you can switch to stacks based on date or tags attached to files, and configure many other useful settings to organize your desktop, including text size, icon size, and grid spacing.

Your macOS desktop should look cleaner now, but you can get some help from a third-party utility or two if you need it. Spotless is one of the best programs in the field: it organizes files across all of macOS, not just the desktop, and it uses rules and automation to keep everything tidy on your behalf.

For example, you might automatically place music files into one desktop folder and document files into another. Actions taken by Spotless can be previewed and approved, or you can let the program continue behind the scenes. Spotless sells for $24.99, but you can try it for free for a week.