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Organize Your Computer's Desktop

written by: Meryl K Evans•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 7/5/2011

Find things fast! Enjoy a neater desktop on your screen. Just follow these steps to have your computer bend to your will instead of the other way around.

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    Default Program Icons

    Most of the time, when you install a new application and let the program do its job, the application adds a shortcut on your desktop, on the program list, AND in the Quick Launch toolbar. Who needs shortcuts in so many places? The more shortcuts and icons on your computer, the harder it gets to find things when you need them. Some applications have multiple entries in the Start > Programs list, too. For example, iTunes often creates a folder and creates a shortcut outside of the folder.

    Quick Launch should be limited to a precious few applications. This toolbar typically appears at the bottom left of your monitor with the >> showing. To remove infrequently used applications from Quick Launch, do the following:

    1. Click >> as shown in the below image.
    2. Select the application to delete (just have it selected, don't press anything yet).
    3. Right-click the select application to receive the context menu.
    4. Select Delete.
    5. Select Delete Shortcut.
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    Quick Start

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    Keyboard buttons: Remember, you not only have the Programs, Quick Start, and desktop short cuts, but also keyboard button short cuts. More and more, keyboards come with buttons you can customize to access your frequent applications and folders. Anything with a keyboard shortcut should not appear in your Start, Quick Start or Desktop menus.

    Start list: A few applications appear in the Start list (before selecting Programs). These usually contain the most recently accessed applications and a few others. This is a good spot for frequently used programs that don't have keyboard short cuts. Do you connect to your computer remotely? Then you might put some keyboard shortcuts into the Start menu since you can't access the keyboard itself through remote access.

    Desktop shortcuts: This is the place to put less frequently accessed programs -- but not once every few months -- such as text editors, secondary browsers, business apps, and web-site related apps.

    Program list: Put everything else in the Start > Programs list or remove it entirely. For example, you may have a "Coupon printer" application. You don't need that anywhere because it automatically comes up anytime you print a coupon using this application. It's unlikely you'll need to start the application yourself.

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    Some software comes with folders and subfolders that get out of hand. For example, an ABC application made by Company XYZ might have a top level folder called "Company XYZ" with nothing in it but another folder called "ABC application." The company probably hopes you'll have other applications from them and those will receive their own folders. Unless it's Microsoft or Adobe, chances are slim. So select the applications and drag them to the top level folder, then delete the subfolder. You can rename a folder by right-clicking and selecting "Rename."

    If you have many of a similar type application -- such as games, then you might create a folder called "Games" and put them all under there. It's up to you how you want to organize your folders in a way that best makes sense for your needs.

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    More Information from BrighHub

    There are lots of resources on BrightHub to help you manage your desktop, organize installed applications, and handle other computer-related organization issues. Here are a few that you'll find quite helpful:

    Safely remove icons, folders, and shortcuts from the Windows desktop

    Personlize your Mac's desktop

    Improve PC performance and increase productivity

    Speed up Vista