Get a Jump on Spring Cleaning by Organizing Your Computer Desktop

Tuesday, March 20th marks the official first day of spring, and with warmer weather and more daylight comes the desire to start spring cleaning. In the office, one of the easiest ways to do that is also one of the most overlooked: cleaning and organizing the desktops of our computers.

Beyond the aesthetic value of actually being able to see your home screen wallpaper and find that file you’re looking for, a clean desktop can also improve computing performance, too. Older versions of Windows included a Desktop Cleanup Wizard. This ran as an automatically scheduled task, moving files or program shortcuts that had not been opened for 60 days to a separate directory. Predictably, this rankled many users, who were often left confused when desktop files or shortcuts suddenly disappeared.

Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 integrated this desktop cleanup function into the System Maintenance Wizard, but a number of easy-to-follow tricks and free apps can also do the trick. See below for our favorite suggestions:

This is the easiest fix, either by manually deleting all shortcuts and consolidating documents into a folder or choosing between various Sort By options. Right-click your desktop, choose Sort By, and choose from options like Name, Size, Type, and Date Modified. Choosing the View option allows you to change icon size, Auto Arrange icons into vertical rows, or Align to Grid so that everything’s neat and tidy.

RocketDock, one of the most popular dock programs, comes with most icons that are the default components of every Windows desktop. And Fences by Stardock allows users to group desktop icons by category. Both Windows-specific apps offer countless customization options, too.

This one can be a double-edged sword—if files downloaded through your mail client or Internet browser don’t automatically land on your desktop, you might not be able to easily locate them. But if you do send them straight to your desktop and don’t keep up with the deluge, your desktop will quickly get swamped. The best compromise? Create a Downloads folder on your desktop and point files there for quick organization.

Using a program launcher that points you to files and programs can give your desktop that fresh and clean look while still providing quick access to anything on your computer. You can even search Google with program launchers like Launchy.

Organization is paramount on Macs, which feature handy, easily customizable docks. You can quickly group items on the desktop into folders by selecting all the items you want to group (click, press and hold Shift, then click the next item), Control-clicking one of the items, then choosing New Folder with Selection. You can change the alignment and organization of items on the desktop, as well, by clicking the desktop, choosing View > Clean Up, or Clean Up By, then selecting an option. Or, choose Sort By, then select an option. Under View > Show View Options, you can also change the size, spacing, and alignment of desktop items.

Per hardware manufacturers like Apple, you can do this very easily: dampen either the cloth that came with your computer, or another clean, soft, lint-free cloth, with water only, and then wipe the screen. Don’t clean the screen of your computer with a cleaner containing acetone.

With a few simple tools and tricks like these under your belt, your spring cleaning can start with that disorderly desktop. Want to know more about how to boost the efficiency and productivity of your business? Intrigued by the tips outlined here but have further questions? Contact CMIT Solutions today—we worry about IT so you don’t have to.

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