Post image for How to Declutter Your Computer Desktop

How to Declutter Your Computer Desktop

March 16, 2009

in Windows

by Tina Gasperson

In Windows XP, the desktop is the first thing you see when you boot your computer. Chances are that over time, your desktop becomes less and less useful because it is all cluttered up with icons that represent installation files, shortcuts, and miscellaneous items that tend to get dumped on the desktop because it’s easy. Kind of like the actual made-out-of-wood or acrylic desktop that your computer is sitting on right now. When your desktop gets too cluttered, it’s hard to work with and you can’t find anything. Here are a few ways you can organize your virtual desktop to best suit your needs.

Right click on the desktop and highlight “Arrange icons by…”. Your arrangement options will appear. For now, select the option to arrange the icons by type. If you don’t often use the shortcuts to launch programs, you can safely delete these. Most programs are listed under the start menu, and it is easier to launch them from there than to bring up the desktop and search for the shortcut. Deleting the shortcuts can clear quite a bit of space. After you’ve deleted shortcuts, consider deleting old program installers – after all, if your program is already installed, you don’t need the installer.

Desktop background

Desktop background

Now you may have some files on your desktop that you’d like to keep. Move these off your desktop and into another folder. Make sure the My Documents folder shows on your desktop. If it doesn’t, right click on your desktop, select Properties, and click on the Desktop tab. Click the “Customize Desktop” button and click to place a checkmark next to “My Documents.” Click OK. Now drag your files over to the My Documents icon and drop them. If you want to be super-organized, you can create a new folder called “Desktop Files” (right-click, select New, Folder, type a name and hit Enter), drag and drop your files into that, and then drag the entire folder over and drop it onto the My Documents icon.

Now that your desktop is uncluttered, you can decorate it. Right-click, select Properties, and click on the Desktop tab. You’ll see a list of available desktop backgrounds, or wallpapers. Highlight an interesting one and you’ll see a preview of it in the dialogue window. Choose whether you want to tile it (copy the image over and over on the screen), center it, or stretch it so that one image copy covers the entire desktop). Click OK, and have a look at your nice, new, clean desktop.

Tina Gasperson (, affectionately known as Computer Lady by her family, has been writing about IT, home computing, and the Internet for more than a decade.