I looked at the Fences software by Stardock, as suggested here. But I don't think this fits my needs. As some reviewers said, Fences is merely just creates a prettier looking clutter. I want to get rid of the clutter, not prettify it. But that doesn't necessarily mean I want to delete files, folders and shortcuts from my desktop.

I could use the option to hide the desktop icons. But what good is that? That makes the desktop useless, because to access an object on desktop I need to un-hide the icons first. Sometimes this results in re-arranged icons or re-sized icons which makes it harder for me to find the icon I want, because it is no longer where I left it on the desktop. Locating that icon again is not easy if you have many icons.

my desktop

Right now I have over 240 icons on my desktop. This has the effect that some icons are shown on top of each other in the upper left corner. My current desktop fits exactly 240 icons. I'd say I have about 80 icons on my desktop on average. So I usually have many icons on my desktop, but I don't have this many very often. I like to have the files and folders for the projects I actively work on right on my desktop. I'm no fan of browsing for files. So unless I'm done with it, I don't like to delete it or stash it in the archive.

I am really looking for a way to add more space to keep on adding icons. Adding a second monitor is not an option. I have second monitor I could use but I don't have the space for it on my desktop (no not that desktop, the real desktop).

I tried one of those virtual desktop managers but it only allows me to have different sets of task bars for running windowed programs, the desktop icons stay the same. I don't really need any help organizing running programs, I usually have about 10 running windowed programs on an average day. I tried the one called Finestra Virtual Desktops (previously known as VDM - virtual desktop manager), as suggested here.

Q: What can I do to better organize my desktop?

closed as not constructive by Karan, nerdwaller, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Brad Patton, Mokubai May 19 '13 at 7:49

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  • 4
    Not quite sure this is the best place to ask this question. That said, the best thing to do is: Stop saving stuff to your desktop! Take everything that is there now, organize it into a sane directory structure, and then stop saving stuff to your desktop...! – Rain May 18 '13 at 20:27
  • 1
    If you want a short and simple answer, then just use folders. – gronostaj May 18 '13 at 20:40
  • I found a VDM called Dexpot. It can create a separate desktop with separate empty task bar for windowed programs and also an empty desktop space. But it requires creation of a separate folder for each virtual desktop to hold the icons. So I did what Synetech said, and I'm trying to create a folder structure right now that makes sense to me. – Samir May 19 '13 at 17:02
  • Fences isn't just for displaying icons already on the desktop; it can also used in conjunction with the accepted answer to include the contents of a folder in a scrollable window. I have a few folders in My Documents (particularly, ones for notes and programming scratch pads) that have the first couple files visible on my desktop. This way I minimize the temporary file chaos while still keeping the convenience factor. – WindowsEscapist Dec 29 '17 at 5:25

The location of the files doesn’t really matter; you are basically asking about general file-management.

There are some programs that can “tidy your desktop”, but they generally just check the shortcuts to see if they are broken. Not particularly helpful.

What you need to do is as the comments above have said, to organize files in folders (and sub folders).

The first step is to set your browser (and other programs) to save to specific, more useful directories instead of defaulting to the desktop. Saving files to the desktop is natural, but quickly becomes overwhelming.

After that, the real task of organizing the existing mess begins. This becomes harder the longer you wait (believe me, I know!)

Here’s a general outline of how to tackle this feat:

  1. Create a (temporary) folder on the desktop, named # or Temp or something.
  2. Move everything (that needs to be sorted) to it.
  3. Open that folder and create a few top-level taxonomic folders like videos, games, text, etc. but prefix their names with _ or # or !, etc. to force Explorer to sort them to the top of the list which makes it easier to jump to them with Home. Yes, it’s slightly more work, but what if you are sorting a folder full of photos? Jumping to the Cats folder is not as simple as typing c-a-t if there’s dozens of files that start with cat, let alone if you have a bunch of folders that happen to start the same as your taxonomic folders; then they’ll get buried in there.
  4. Now sort everything in # (or Temp or whatever) into those top-level folders.
  5. Then for each of the top-level folders, repeat the process (from step 3) with more and more refined sub-folders until you’ve processed everything.

Warning: some items will belong to more than one location. This becomes quite the sticky wicket as it were. Figuring out whether a file belongs in this branch or that one can be a mind-twisting feat that can often leave skipping it altogether in the hopes of figuring something out in the future. Does a photo of a cat playing the piano go under Photos\Animals\Cats or Photos\Funny? I have personally yet to find a solution to this dilemma. For now, I generally end up sorting according to which I am more likely to search for it in the future.

  • Thanks! I now have all the text files in Desktop\Temp\_text and images in Desktop\Temp\_images. Prefixing a folder name with an underscore is a good tip! I once used exclamation marks in the past to get the same effect, but underscore looks more pretty. Is this really called a "taxonomic folder"? I didn't know there was a word for it. – Samir May 19 '13 at 17:13
  • There isn’t really a specific name, but taxonomy is the science of classification and categorization which is exactly what you need to do with files to avoid having a giant mess and make it easier to find them. – Synetech May 19 '13 at 19:25

Even though you can use it for storage, the Desktop (just like your actual computer desk) isn't designed for storage! Your desk has drawers and Windows has folders specifically designed for storage.

You should start by sorting your stuff into four general categories: documents, images, music and videos. Microsoft conveniently provides exactly these folders (now called Libraries) in your user account folder. You can then copy your sorted files directly in those or create subfolders, up to you.


Folders like 1/videos, 2/games, 3/text, 4/Pictures, 5/Music, 6/Webpages, 7/Porno (lol), 8/Programs etc. Numbering them according to how you would like them displayed on the desktop. atleast you will probubly have.. 7 or 10 folders displayed insted of 240 icons. good luck sorry for not haveing a better fix but i really think this way keeps it looking neat and lets you find your stuff easyer.

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