How to Organise Your 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!

How to Change Your Wallpaper

What is “Wallpaper”?

The picture that forms that background of your Desktop is called “Wallpaper” (or “Background”). Not to be confused with the pictures or patterns that appear when the computer has been left idle for a while, which is the “Screen Saver(So called because, on older monitors, it helped to prevent “screen burn”, where parts of the monitor would become damaged from displaying the same thing for prolonged periods).

Wallpaper from a Toshiba PC
Wallpaper from a Toshiba PC

By default, your PC is probably set with the Windows 10 Standard Wallpaper, as seen above, or maybe it has been set to the Brand of your PC.

Pleasant as these pictures are, it can be nice to personalise your computer, using your own pictures. Maybe you have taken photos of some memorable holidays, or have been sent photos of your family. A son’s wedding, or daughter’s graduation. A new baby, or a gathering of the whole family. You can choose what you get to see!


Three Little Symbols
Three Little Symbols

First, I would suggest “Restoring” your browser window, so that you can see part of your desktop while reading this Article (the “Squares” button, top right). Now, right-click on a clear area of the Desktop, and you should get a Menu. The last entry will be “Personalize” (excuse USA spelling!). Click this, and you will be presented with the Background Settings window. (Again, “Restore” this, so we can see everything! If you wish, have a read about using Multiple Programs at once).

Background Settings Window
Background Settings Window

You can now choose your settings!

The top picture is a preview of your Desktop. Below this is the Menu to choose “Picture” (a single picture of your choice), “Solid Colour” (a plain background) or “Slide Show” (to make your Background change at regular intervals).

Below this are some suggested Pictures, and a Browse button. Also a “Fit” button.


If you wish to use a single picture as your Wallpaper, select Picture from the Background Menu, and then click Browse. This will open a Mini-Explorer for you to find and choose the picture you desire.

"More Options" View Button
“More Options” View Button

Tip: Use the “More Options” View Button to alter the View of the Pictures so that you can see them more clearly! Keep clicking it to see different Views, or click the little down-arrow to get a choice!

Choose your Picture, and click the “Choose Picture” button! The background will change to the Wallpaper that you have chosen!

Wallpaper Shortcut!
Wallpaper Shortcut!

Tip: A different way to do this is to open File Explorer, find your chosen Picture and right-click on it. The Menu that appears will have “Set as desktop background” as an option!

Solid Colour

If you wish your Background to be a solid colour, chose this option, and you will be given a selection of colours to choose from. Or if none of these suit your taste, you can click the closest, and then choose “Custom Colour”, to adjust it.

Slide Show

If you select this option, you can choose a folder that contains pictures, and your Wallpaper will change between those pictures.

The default time for each picture is 30 minutes, but you can set this as low as 1 minute, or as high as 1 day.

You can also choose to “shuffle” the pictures, displaying a random one each time, or leave them in the order they are in the Folder.

You can choose your Pictures Folder, or any other Folder for this.

Some people like to make their own “Wallpapers” folder, and copy specific pictures into it, and I would recommend doing this, as it avoids Windows trying to display pictures that are not meant as Wallpapers, such as very small pictures, or pictures that are not the right shape.

Choose a Fit

At the bottom of these options, is this Menu, offering such settings as “Fill”, “Stretch”, “Tile”, etc.

These are how Windows deals with Pictures that are not the exact same size as the Screen. Why not try a few, to see how they work.

To Finish:

Why not let me know what you use as your Desktop Wallpaper!

You could even send me a Screenshot!

What do you think of the picture I use?

Phoenix Nebula Wallpaper
Phoenix Nebula Wallpaper

Working with Multiple Programs

As mentioned before, the Windows Desktop (your main screen, when you first switch on your computer) is an analogy for your physical desk. And like your physical desk, you can have more than one item on it at a time!

You may have your diary (Calendar), a typewriter (Microsoft Word), a telephone (Facebook Messenger), and a pack of cards (Microsoft Solitaire Collection) all on the desk. You don’t pack them all away (Close Program) as you swap between them.

In Windows, there are several tools to help you organise your Desktop to keep track of the open Programs.

Firstly, we shall look at the “Minimise” and “Maximise”/”Restore” Buttons. At the top right-hand side of any open window there will be the the familiar “X”, used to close the window. Next to that are two other symbols.

Three Little Symbols
Three Little Symbols

As we know, the “X” is used to Close the window. The “Dash” is use to “Minimise” the window, and the “Squares” to “Maximise” or “Restore”. What do we mean by that?


When you “Minimise” a window, the program will stay open, but it is removed from the Screen, and tucked away (“Minimised”) onto the Task Bar. When a program is Open, it’s Icon will appear on the Task Bar, with a blue “underline”, as illustrated here:

Multiple Open Programs
Multiple Open Programs

You can re-view the program by clicking on it’s Task Bar Icon.

You can also Preview any Minimised programs by hovering over their Task Bar Icon:Previewing My Chrome Browser Previewing My Chrome Browser

The "File Explorer" Icon
The “File Explorer” Icon

Why not try this! You are currently using an Internet Browser (probably Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome). Go to the bottom of the screen (Task Bar) and click the File Explorer Icon. It will open an Explorer Window. Depending in how your PC is set, it may fill the screen (Maximised) or only take up a part of the screen (Restored).

Click the “Dash” in the top right of the Explorer Window, and it will disappear (hopefully with no puff of smoke!). You should see that its Icon has the blue “underline” to show that it is still Open. Click it to bring it back (Restore)!

Now try Minimising your Browser. Click the “Dash”.  BYE!

Hello again! Notice how this page is still open! If you had Closed your browser, and then re-opened it, you would have been presented with your Home Page. But by Minimising, and then Restoring, this page stayed open, as you did not Close the program!


Now let’s take a look at the “Squares” (“Maximise/Restore”) button. In the top right hand side of your window you will see the Three Little Buttons:  Dash, Squares and X.

If you click the Squares, it will change the window between Maximised (filling all of the Screen) and Restored (filling part of the Screen).

Re-Sizing Arrow
Re-Sizing Arrow

When the window is Restored, you can alter the size and shape of it. This is done by “grabbing” the edges and “dragging” them. Click your Squares until the Browser window is Restored, and then move your mouse to the edge, until you get a double-headed arrow Symbol. While you have this symbol visible, you can hold down your mouse button, and move the edge of the window! This works on the sides, and also on the top/bottom!

A 'Restored' File Explorer Window
A ‘Restored’ File Explorer Window

It can be a little tricky to grab the window just right, so practice this! You will find a size that works for you!

So we now know how to Minimises, Maximise and Restore, but how does this help with Multiple Programs?

Well, like your Physical Desk, you can work on two (or more) things at once! You can be typing a letter, while having your Diary open to check dates. You can be browsing the internet, and have a game of cards as well. Or you can read a Tutorial Blog while having a File Explorer Window open to try the techniques!

Moving between Programs

If we have two programs open, and wish to move between them (for example, a Tutorial Blog open in your Web Browser, and File Explorer to see/organise your files), we get our old friend “Tim Toady” to help us!

TIMTOWTDI: There Is More Than One Way To Do It!

From what we have just learnt, we can see (Teacher Talk for “I’m going to have to explain it, aren’t I?”) that you can Minimise one Program, and Maximise the other, using the Dash (top right), and the Blue-Underlined Icons on the Task Bar. Feel free to try this.

A short-cut is to skip the Minimising part, and just click the Task Bar Icons!

If we think of “Minimising” as “Pushing to the back of the Desk” (still open and active, but not in our direct Working Area i.e. not visible), and clicking the Task Bar Icon as “putting in our Direct Working Area, then skipping the Minimise is equivalent to having two Notebooks (one with Internet, one with File Explorer), and swapping which is on top. The other one is still open on the page you left it at.

So, now we can switch back and forth between open programs!

Another way , our friend Tim Toady tells us, is to have two windows both Restored, rather than Maximised.

Two Programs open!
Two Programs open!

Here we see my File Explorer (viewing my Documents Folder), and my Web Browser (viewing my “Edit Blog” page!).

You can re-size the windows by grabbing the edges and dragging them, and you can change their position by dragging (clicking, holding the mouse-button down while you move the mouse) the Top Bar of the window.

You can now click in each of the windows to “activate” it i.e. make it the Working Area. You can see that the above windows overlap, and if one is clicked, it “comes to the front”. Similar to the aforementioned notebooks, putting one on top of the other, so we can write in it.

NOTE: This “activating” of windows, and having one at the front, to work on is called “Focus”. To bring one to the front is to “Give it Focus”, and we can ask “Which window has Focus?”

So, as an exercise, (You may want to write down these steps, as we will be closing the web browser!), let us test our new multi-tasking skills!

  1. Close all of your programs, and return to the Desktop. (Check the Task Bar for Underlined Icons – these are still open! Make sure they are closed!)
  2. Open your Web Browser (usually Microsoft Edge, or Google Chrome), and navigate back to this blog ( ).
  3. Minimise your Web Browser.
  4. Open File Explorer, and Restore it, so that it only fills part of the screen.
  5. Maximise Web Browser (Click on its underlined Icon, where you Minimised it to), and then Restore it so that it does not fill the whole screen.
  6. In your Web Browser, navigate to the File Explorer posts, and try out some Cut/Copy/Paste exercises. You will have to move between Web Browser (to read the posts) and File Explorer (to move your Files).
  7. Let me know how you got on, using the Comment Form below!

Now try it with both windows Maximised, switching between them with the Icons on the Task Bar.

Find the ways that work for you! None of the options are better than others, just a different way of doing the same thing!

Do you prefer working with Restored windows, so you can see what is going on on in other parts of the screen, or is Maximised your preference?

It doesn’t have to be Browser and Explorer! You can have a photo, and an art program (such as Paint) to sketch a copy of the photo. Or read a book in an ebook reader, while taking notes in Notepad, or Word (or both! You are not limited to two programs!)

Back To Basics

In the Beginning Was The Desktop

Congratulations on your purchase of a shiny new Windows 10 Computer!

You have carefully taken it from its box, stripped off all of the protective layers, and placed it carefully upon your table.

Extension cables have been sourced, with multi-plug power-strips.

Numerous plugs are checked and connected. The monitor is adjusted to the perfect height and viewing-angle.

A nervous hand reaches out, finger poised by the Main Power Button …

Let There Be Windows!

What seems like a lifetime later, the computer is finally ready to use, and probably gives a display something like this:

Windows Desktop
Your version probably does not have the red Text all over it!

Whether you are new to computers, or have upgraded from a previous version of Windows, it is probably worthwhile having a quick review of what we can see here.

The main area is called The Desktop, an analogy for a desk, as seen in many a 20th-Century office. This is your route to your Tools, Documents, Programs (and Apps!), and generally where you work.

On the Desktop will be a number of small images. These area called Icons, and are usually links to Programs (or Apps!).

The large section to the bottom left is the “Start Menu“, which can be viewed/hidden using the Start Button (sometimes called the

The Start Button
The Start Button

Windows Button, or Flag).

Above the Start Button, from the top, we also have:

  • Account Details
  • File Explorer
  • Settings
  • Power

We will discuss the others later, but it may interest you to know that the Power button is where you click to switch the computer off.

Across the base of the screen is a black bar. This is known as the Task Bar, and contains a selection of Icons to launch Programs, along with links to Programs that are already running (if any).

To the very right-hand side of the task Bar is the Notification Area. This contains links to certain System Processes and Background Activities, along with a Digital Clock and at the very end, the Notifications Icon.

Now What?

So now that we know what all of these things are called, what do we do with them?

Well, it depends what you want to do!

I know that sounds like a bit of a non-answer, but you can do so much with a modern PC that it is difficult to know where to start …

OK, you’ll want to access the Information Superhighway. Getting there is easy.

Microsoft Edge Icon
Microsoft Edge Icon

See that blue “e” at the bottom of the screen (the Icon on the Task Bar), that is Microsoft Edge, an Internet Browser. You may have heard of Internet Explorer, well this is the replacement. Click there, and you will open Edge.

It will probably default to viewing the MSN webpage. This is a perfectly good page, but can be altered if you prefer to begin your browsing elsewhere (e.g., or your email page).

A Web Page ( open in MS Edge
A Web Page ( open in MS Edge

As you can see, there are several distinct areas here.

Everything above the red dotted line is “Browser Tools”.

Everything under it is the Web Page.

Firstly, we have the Address Bar, where you can type the address (the “htttp”,” www”, “.com”  bit)of a webpage you wish to visit.

The Settings button will bring up a menu of different Tools.

Tabs“, are where we can have multiple pages open, and choose which one we are viewing.

We’ll stick with just getting to the page you want, and leave Settings and Tabs for later.

If you know the address of the Web page you require, you click in the Address bar (You can press the F6 key at the top middle of your keyboard), delete anything that is there, and type the address. (e.g. TIP: You can usually leave out the https://www. part, and just type  or 

Press ENTER and the Browser will look for the page, and display it to you!

If you do not know the exact address, you will need to go to a Search Engine page! Notable Search Engines include:

  • Google (
  • Bing by Microsoft (
  • Yahoo (
  • DuckDuckGo Anonymous Search (

On the Search Engine page will be a Search Bar. Enter your search terms here. e.g. “Car Hire”, or “Where can I sell my gold”, or “My PC is broken, is there a PC Wizard near me”. Press the Search Button (sometimes a Magnifying Glass, and a list of results will be displayed.

So, that should give you something to play with for a while!
Remember: Be careful on the internet!

What were your first stumbling-blocks with your new PC? Did you get any instructions, or take a course? What was the best advice you received?