How to Organise Your Desktop

Windows Desktop

We know what our Desktop is,  and what all the parts of it do, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could personalise it? Just like you can arrange your desk at work, make room for the things you use most, add ornaments, and photographs of loved ones, you can do the same with your Computer Desktop!

The default Windows 10 Desktop has the blue “Windows 10” background, and Icons arranged in rows down the left-hand side.

We already know how to change the Background. Let’s have a look at what else we can do:

Rearranging Icons

Firstly, we want to make sure we are in the right “mode”. We can have Windows automatically arrange the Icons, or do it ourselves.

Desktop Menu
Desktop Menu

Right-Click a blank area of Desktop to get a Menu. If you hover the mouse over “View”, you will see the sub-menu (you can tell that it has a sub-menu from the “>” symbol!). Here you can choose the size of your icons (my advice is to try all three sizes, and go with the one you prefer. You can always change later). You also want to look at the Second section of this menu:

  • Auto arrange Icons – If you select this option, the icons will all line up down the left-hand side, and you will not be able to move them around. Leaving it “unchecked” (i.e. not having a ‘tick’ by the side of it) will allow you to arrange the Icons yourself.
  • Align Icons to grid – You will want this Checked, otherwise the icons will not line up neatly.
  • Show desktop Icons – If you UnCheck this, all of your Icons will disappear! They are not deleted, but you will not see them. Check it, to bring them back.

Now we can get on with arranging the Icons as we like.

As explained earlier, we can Drag’n’Drop the Icons around the desktop. Move them into groups of similar programs (e.g. Word, Excel and PowerPoint Office programs all together), or programs you use at the same time (Scanning programs, photo editors and email client, if you scan, edit and email a lot of pictures!).

Adding and removing Icons

If you do  not have an Icon on the Desktop for a program you would like, it can be added.

The main way of doing this is to find the program on the Start Menu, and Drag a Link to the Desktop:

  • The Start Button
    The Start Button

    Click the Start Button, and find your Program on the Start Menu.

  • Click-and-hold the mouse over the Menu Icon
  • While still holding the mouse button down, “Drag” the Icon to an area of Desktop.
  • You should see a “link” box appear. Release the mouse Button.
Dragging a Link from the Start Menu
Dragging a Link from the Start Menu

You now have a new Icon! You may move this around as you please!

Shortcut Arrow
A Shortcut

NOTE: When you drop your Icon into the Desktop, you should notice that it has a small Arrow in the corner. This denotes that  the Icon is not the actual Program, but a link to it. The Icon may be moved, deleted or altered without having any effect upon the Program!

Note 2: Do Not place Original files/programs on the desktop! The Desktop works best with shortcuts/links to the originals

Note 3: DO NOT keep your DATA on the Desktop! Data is best kept in your Main Folders (Documents, Pictures, etc). If you need easy access from the desktop, the next section shows how to create a Desktop Shortcut to your Data Folders!

Creating Shortcuts to Data Folders

Leaving Data on the Desktop can be a problem for several reasons:

  1. Some Backup methods are only set to back up data from your Documents and Pictures Folders. Any data on your Desktop may not be Backed Up!
  2. Your Computer has to work harder to keep track of all of the Files if they are on the Desktop. Being visible most of the time means the Computer has to keep inspecting them to ensure that the display is correct and up to date.
  3. Files are harder to find if they are not organised carefully. A little time spent creating folders in your Documents Folder (and placing shortcuts on the desktop if needed) will save a lot of time and effort later.
  4. The Desktop can only show so many items, whereas a Folder in File Explorer can be scrolled to show many more items.

The two main ways to create shortcuts to Folders are:

  • Right-Click on the folder you wish to Link. The Menu will have “Send to”. Hovering over this gives a sub-menu with “Desktop (Create Shortcut)”

    Send To Desktop
    Send To Desktop
  • Create Shortcut!
    Create Shortcut!

    Right-Click-Drag the folder to the desktop. You will need File Explorer “Restored”, i.e. not filling the whole screen, so that you can see some of your Desktop. Right-Click the Folder, and keeping the button held down, Drag it out of File Explorer, onto your Desktop. When you release the button, you will get a new Menu, where you can choose “Create Shortcut”.

These methods will create Shortcuts to your Folder on the Desktop, giving your quick and easy access to your Data, without cluttering your Desktop with too many data Files!

Renaming Icons

When a new Icon is created, they often have long names, including a note that they are a shortcut. As we are trying to reduce clutter, and we already know they are a shortcut by the Arrow on them, we are able to rename them.

Shortcut ready for renaming
Shortcut ready for renaming

Using the same tool mentioned in regards to Files and Folders, Icons can be renamed by selecting it and then either pressing the “F2” key on  your keyboard, or right-clicking it, and selecting “Rename” from the menu. This will highlight the Icon Name in blue, and you can type your new name here, pressing “Enter” (or “Return”) to finalise the renaming.

Removing Icons

To remove an Icon from the Desktop:

  1. Shortcut Arrow
    A Shortcut

    ENSURE THAT IT IS A SHORTCUT by looking for the Shortcut arrow!

  2. Click the Icon to Select it.
  3. Press the “Delete” key on your keyboard.

The Icon will disappear.

(It is moved to the Recycle Bin, so you have a chance to get it back, if you made a mistake!)

The End

You can now add, remove and rearrange the Icons on your Desktop, and know about ensuring that only Shortcuts are placed here.

We also learnt previously about taking Screenshots, so why not send me a picture of your Desktop, and let me know why you chose to arrange it like you have!

3 thoughts on “How to Organise Your Desktop”

  1. Very informative, thank you.
    Sometimes the right click, Send To, Desktop (create shortcut) doesn’t work, especially with websites, so I minimize the site, blue the URL and drag that onto my Desktop to create the shortcut, then re-name it.
    Pamela.

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