Pin Me

Cleanup and Personalize Your Windows XP Desktop

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Christian Cawley•updated: 6/13/2009

You can make the Windows Desktop look however you want it to. It can have lots of icons or none at all; it can show My Computer, My Network Places, Internet Explorer, and/or the Recycle Bin; it can have shortcuts to programs you, and more. It's up to you!

  • slide 1 of 4

    Introduction

    You can add anything you want to what normally appears on all Windows XP Desktops, however, you have to be careful not to overdo it! You should be very picky when personalizing your Desktop—if you’re right-brained, think of your desktop as really valuable real estate, like beachfront property—you don’t want to junk it up with a bunch of broken beach chairs and fishing poles. If you’re left-brained, imagine it’s a filing cabinet and the icons on your Desktop are the tabs on your file folders. Either way, the idea is to clean it up, make it nice, and configure it so that you can find what you want, when you want it.

  • slide 2 of 4

    Add or Remove Default Icons

    You can remove many of the default icons on your Desktop to make it look tidy and make your computer start up a little faster when you first boot up. Of course, you can add icons that you need but are not there.

    To add or remove default icons, follow these steps:

    1. Right-click an empty area of the Desktop and choose Properties.

    2. In the Display Properties dialog box, choose the Desktop tab.

    3. Choose Customize Desktop to open the Desktop Items dialog box.

    4. In the Desktop Items dialog box, check or uncheck My Documents, My Computer, My Network Places, and Internet Explorer. (Notice you can also change the icons for these if you desire.)

    5. Click OK in the Desktop Items dialog box and again in the Display Properties dialog box to apply the changes.

  • slide 3 of 4

    The Recycle Bin

    You might have noticed that the Recycle Bin wasn’t available for deletion when you were customizing the Desktop. Removing the Recycle Bin requires that you obtain a third-party application. You’ll want to remove the Recycle Bin only if you’re trying to create an “icon-less” Desktop. Generally, the Recycle Bin is a necessary icon for the Desktop and we recommend you keep it.

  • slide 4 of 4

    Create Folders and Program Shortcuts

    Having items on the Desktop that you use often can also help you work faster and smarter. You can add folders to the Desktop by either creating shortcuts to existing folders or creating new ones. You can add program shortcuts just as easily.

    To create a shortcut to an existing folder that contains documents you access often, simply follow these steps:

    1. Browse to the folder using Windows Explorer.

    2. Right-click, point to Send To, and click Desktop (Create Shortcut). A shortcut will be placed on the Desktop.

    Do this to create a new folder on the Desktop:

    1. Right-click an empty area of the Desktop.

    2. Point to New, and click Folder.

    3. Name the folder, and then drag and drop files in there or add them there as they are created.

    To create a shortcut to a program on your Desktop, locate it on the All Programs menu, right-click the icon, and drag it to the Desktop. Select Copy Here when prompted. You'll need to choose Copy Here so that the program will remain available from the Start menu for both you and others who have accounts on your computer. (If you can’t find what you want on the All Programs menu, look for it using Windows Explorer.) A shortcut will automatically be created on the Desktop.