You boot up your computer and find yourself overwhelmed by the number and order of your desktop icons. Even if you try and keep them split across separate folders, your desktop may still be disorganized.
On the surface, this isn’t a huge issue. But what if it takes a few more clicks to find a specific file? You can handle that.
The problem is that the less organized your desktop, the more unnecessary work you have to do. Your workspace becomes cluttered and confusing, making it harder to find files related to your work.
This article solves your problem by showing you how to arrange the files on your desktop in a more organized manner.
10 Tips for an Organized Desktop
Many people need help getting their desktops organized in an intuitive fashion. These tips help you to store files in easily accessible locations.
Tip 1 – Acknowledge Your Big Challenges
Organizing a desktop is more complex than assigning each icon to its own folder. There are several challenges to consider before settling on an organizational method:
- Clearing the clutter of folders and files
- Choosing a standard organization method that ensures all of your files are in a convenient place
- Finding the time to keep your desktop organized when you have many files
- Staying consistent with the method you’ve selected so your documents don’t get lost
By recognizing the challenges, you understand the scale of the issue in front of you. Knowing what you have to deal with helps you to focus on solving problems.
Tip 2 – Use Your Taskbar
The standard Microsoft Windows desktop features a taskbar. You can use this taskbar to organize files and folders that you don’t use regularly.
Start by considering which icons on your desktop you use frequently. Any icon or folder that you use at least three times per week stays on your physical desktop. Anything else gets moved into your taskbar. If you’re using a Mac, move the lesser-used files and folders into the Applications folder of Mac Finder.
Once you’ve cleaned away your unused icons, you can decide which icons to add to your taskbar. These are your most commonly used program shortcuts.
If you’re a Windows user, right-click the icon and select ‘Pin to Taskbar’. Mac users can drag and drop icons directly onto their Dock. All the shortcuts you need are in one place, giving you more space on your desktop and allowing you to access common programs quickly.
Tip 3 – Create a File Naming Convention
Let’s assume you’re working on a single project. Within that project, you have several folders and subfolders, each with associated files. It’s easy to lose sight of the files you need as the project scales.
A file naming system solves this problem. For example, consider coding each file with the date modified, followed by a client’s name, and then the file name. This allows you to pull up a search menu and search for files directly using the date or client’s name.
The result is that you can place fewer files on your desktop. You can then open your computer’s standard file browser window, such as the Windows Explorer Window, to find files based on your naming convention. Apply this method to all new files and any files you’ve already downloaded onto your computer.
Tip 4 – Auto Arrange Icons
Many desktops allow you to organize your apps and files automatically. This saves a lot of time you’d otherwise spend dragging and dropping shortcuts. Just tell your computer what you want, and it does the hard work for you.
Right-click on your desktop screen and select ‘Sort By’. You should see several sorting methods. Click the one you want to automatically sort your files.
While this allows you to sort files and programs quickly, you have less control over where the files go. As such, you may want to drop items of importance, such as your main documents and apps, into a separate folder so you can access them whenever needed.
Tip 5 – Make Your Desktop Attractive
Your desktop doesn’t only have to be a place where you keep a bunch of desktop icons. Think about your physical desk. While you use it to store files, you also make it pretty using plants, pictures, and trinkets.
An attractive desk is more inviting, making it easier for you to work.
The same theory applies to your computer desktop.
Set an attractive desktop background. Your desire to see that background can motivate you to drop program shortcuts into separate folders, ensuring you have a less cluttered desktop.
Tip 6 – Remove Duplicates
Duplicate files create productivity issues. Having several versions of the same file could lead to you losing track of edits. Alternatively, you may send the wrong version of a file to a client.
Get rid of the duplicates.
Eliminating duplicated files creates a less cluttered workspace and makes you more productive. Unfortunately, the way a desktop works can make it difficult to root out your duplicates. Several apps, such as dupeGuru, can scan your computer to locate duplicate files for you to delete.
Tip 7 – Use Download and Save Appropriately
Sticking with the issue of duplicate files and icons, downloading is often the source of duplication.
For example, you might download a file from the internet. Your computer automatically sends this file to a ‘Downloads’ folder, which is a convenient place to put it. The problem is that you may also drag the file out of your browser into the folder where you want to keep it.
Now, you have a duplicate.
You can avoid this problem by changing the save location when downloading something. Send the file to the appropriate folder for storing files of that nature to create a more organized desktop.
Tip 8 – Sort New Content
It’s easy to get lured into the trap of dumping new icons onto your desktop quickly when you have other work to do.
Unfortunately, storing files in this fashion leaves you with a ton of unsorted desktop icons.
Instead, place all new files on the right side of your desktop while keeping old files on the left side. This technique turns the right side of the desktop into a temporary working area. Take a few minutes to organize the new files into appropriate folders. You’ll save a lot of time compared to waiting until you have documents all over the place before sorting.
Tip 9 – Archive Old Files
You may have old files that you need to keep but last used a long time ago. Archiving allows you to store these files in an appropriate location on your desktop.
Use a file’s properties to determine if it requires archiving. Right-click the file and select ‘Properties’. Check the date accessed section. If you last accessed the file a year ago, create a folder on your desktop and place the file inside. Do this for all of your documents, so you organize old files away from your main desktop screen.
Tip 10 – Use Apps
You may be the sort of person who takes a lot of notes when working. Having those notes floating around your desktop creates unsightly clutter. Note-taking apps allow you to store all of your notes in a central location. Many of them also allow you to associate those notes with specific files and folders.
Similarly, calendar apps allow you to note important dates and set reminders without creating additional files.
Tackle Your Disorganized Desktop
Disorganized desktop icons make you less productive. By following these tips, you remove clutter from your desktop, organize shortcuts, and create a screen that enables a faster workflow.
Regular organizing is the key. Commit to organizing your desktop weekly or monthly to ensure you stay on top of new apps and documents.