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Organize desktop icons on Windows

Short of dragging and dropping icons into "groups", what's the best way to organize the 40 Icons on my Windows XP desktop?


9 Answers 9


I've always liked this approach:

bookshelf wallpaper

  • 1
    That is brilliant!!
    – nhinkle
    Aug 24, 2010 at 17:07
  • I'm not sure it's practical (for instance, my desk would be crowded of .txts, .docs and .pdfs) but I like the idea :)
    – default
    Aug 24, 2010 at 17:22
  • 2
    The txts, docs, and pdfs are the stuff I leave laying around on the ground. Just like my real room :)
    – zildjohn01
    Aug 24, 2010 at 17:23
  • Not sure if it's my style, but definitely a cool concept. +1
    – TM.
    Sep 30, 2010 at 18:22

Organize your desktop by creating shaded areas which become movable and sizable containers for your icons with the help of Fences from http://www.stardock.com/products/fences/


You have a lot of different choices (all links to programs listed below will be at the end of the article,)....

Obviously first choice is Folders. Create and organize all your icons in their own categories and then you can reduce your 40 icons into just a few different folders.

Second you can go with say ObjectDock or RocketDock. Now this is similar to the first choice in that you'd have to organize them into folders somewhere on your computer and then put them onto ObjectDock or RocketDock to make it look a bit prettier although if you don't have at least 2GB of RAM I wouldn't suggest doing this as these can become resource eaters at time.

Third you can use Fences. An app that allows you to add shaded blocks to your desktop so you can put your different apps into their own "fence" and keep them organized that way.

Fourth is probably the most simple and that is just spend a few minutes and just go through the icons and take them off your desktop and put them where they need to be put. I oftentimes do this at the end of the month after I have acquired a few images, psd's, etc on my desktop I'll organize them into my folders I have setup through my computer.

I hope this help and see below for all the links to the software I mentioned above...

(Due to being a new member I can only post 1 hyperlink, sorry!) ObjectDock - http://www.stardock.com/products/objectdock/ RocketDock - rocketdock.com Fences - stardock.com/products/fences

  • +1 for RocketDock, that is a really nice application :)
    – default
    Aug 24, 2010 at 17:34

Realise it's a flippant answer, but I'd either delete them (who needs that many icons on the desktop) or surrender to auto-sorting alphabetically or via type.

Slightly longer and less flippant, depending what these icons are there's probably a better and more convenient place to store them, Start Menu, Quick Launch area, My Documents, Downloads folder, etc. The Desktop really isn't a great place to keep that many icons in an easy way to find them.

If you're determined to keep them on the Desktop, then there are so many different ways that Windows (or other apps) can reset your careful arrangement and sorting that you may as well sort in alphabetical order and switch on auto-arrange. Anything more careful is bound to drive you crazy when you have to move them back to their correct position all the time.

  • Agreed. I can scarcely imagine a need for 40 icons. There are performance reasons for not storing files on the desktop, and if you have that many application shortcuts on the desktop, they would be better fit for the start menu.
    – nhinkle
    Aug 24, 2010 at 17:10

You could check out BumpTop, but as you notice on this link, they were bought by Google so you can't download it from their site anymore. However, do a Google search (irony?) for BumpTop download and you'll probably find something.

BumpTop is a 3D desktop where you can stack, throw, and organize your files. Here's a great demonstration.

Another approach is Google Desktop. If you get this you won't even have to bother how your desktop looks. You just click Ctrl Ctrl and search for anything you might be wanting from your computer.

  • Since this question is a duplicate, I suggest you post this answer on the original question.
    – Gnoupi
    Aug 25, 2010 at 9:05
  • done. Although, that question already has an accepted answer
    – default
    Aug 25, 2010 at 11:12

This doesn't directly solve your problem of how to organize them on your desktop, but consider moving them. It's messy to store files on the desktop, and for applications, you'd be better off having them in the start menu organized into folders. One thing a lot of people overlook which I find very helpful is increasing the number of programs shown in the main start menu panel, and setting it to small icons. You can easily cram 15 or 20 program links in that way, and they are less likely to accidentally get rearranged than your desktop icons.


If you have 40 icons on your desktop than your probably not going to take the time to set up rocketdock/stardock/fences etc. Besides, the reek havoc on any RAM you may have, especially if your using Windows XP.

Your best bet is to create four new folders on your desktop, name folders accordingly, (e.g. "Games", "Utilities", "Multimedia", "Internet", just examples) move 10 icons into each.

Or delete & uninstall what you haven't used in over two weeks.


I take the "less is more approach." Since you're running XP, consider installing Rocket Dock and Launchy to manage your desktop space.

Rocket Dock mimics the OSX launcher. By being able to adjust the icon size, see what apps are running, and even have the dock hide itself, you can create quick access to your most critical applications.

Launchy provides a simple search box (hidden until a activated by a keystroke) that indexes your start menu, files, and a lot more. It will also prioritize your searches by the items you use the most. With Launchy, you can easily launch and application within two or three keys on the keyboard, and also find files quickly.

Between these two apps, you can provide a powerful interface to your apps and files, without having to search around your desktop screen all the time.

What's better is that Windows 7 has effectively created their own versions of these applications and integrated them into the Operating System.


I never see my desktop, only when my PC is booting. After that, I use Launchy to launch my programs / documents. You can assign a keyboard shortcut (I use ctrl+esc), and a small text box opens, and it suggests the program as you type (like google suggests). Check it at http://www.launchy.net/

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