How to Organize Your Desktop

An electronic desktop on your computer is just like a physical one; if you don't keep it organized, it can get quite cluttered. Here are a few steps to keep your desktop in top form.


  1. Image titled Organize Your Desktop Step 1
    Sort your files into folders. Label these by year and folder hierarchy. Make sub-folders for each set of programs. Make sure that your naming conventions (the names that you use) are clear and concise.
  2. Image titled Organize Your Desktop Step 2
    Color code your files. Use colors according to relative importance. Use a bold color for "urgent" items, a less bright color for less urgent tasks.
  3. Image titled Organize Your Desktop Step 3
    Move your folders to other directories. Placing your folders into the hard drive (such as "My Documents") will clear up more space on your desktop and help it appear far less cluttered. If you like, you can then create desktop shortcuts pointing to your favourite or most used programs, if your computer program has this facility.
  4. Image titled Organize Your Desktop Step 4
    Choose an attractive wallpaper. If you've got a background worth looking at, you're more likely to keep the desktop free of file and folder clutter. Choose a favorite photo or picture, or choose rotating images.
  5. Image titled Organize Your Desktop Step 5
    Clean your desktop periodically. Take a look at the files that you have accumulated on the desktop. This could be something to do when you're bored or tired, needing a break from harder work. It could also be something that you do regularly, according to a schedule, once per month or week, for instance.
  6. Image titled Organize Your Desktop Step 6
    Use the Desktop Cleanup Wizard. If your version of Windows features it, you can use this automatic desktop cleanup tool. Go to "Start", "Control Panel". In the "Desktop" tab, click "Customize Desktop". Then choose "Clean Desktop Now". You can also choose to run this tool periodically. The wizard moves unused items from the desktop to an archive folder. It is the digital equivalent of scooping all that paper into a box.
  7. Image titled Organize Your Desktop Step 7
    Put shortcuts somewhere else. Use the menus, launch bars, or an add-on to launch frequently-used programs, rather than cluttering up your desktop with shortcuts.
  8. Image titled Organize Your Desktop Step 8
    Keep your windows aligned and organized. You can even install software to automatically align all your windows and make it much easier to find them in addition to increasing the size of your desktop.


  • Organize files in the way that makes the most sense to you. If you work by years, organize by years. If you work by projects, organize by projects. If you work by categories, organize by categories.
  • One easy way to keep all the shortcuts on your desktop organized is to put certain icons in each corner. For example, you could put important programs in the bottom right corner of your screen and games in the top right.
  • Get software that can automate the cleaning and organizing of your desktop. There is Hazel for the Mac, Clutter killer or DAC Desktop for Windows.
  • If you frequently misplace files within your computer or you would like to be able to search the text inside files easily, get a desktop search utility. Google, Yahoo, and Copernic all offer good ones. Check the internet using your favorite search engine.

Sources and Citations

  • Wired Magazine - Original source of this article. Shared with permission.

Article Info

Categories: File Manipulation