Technology

How To Clean Up Your Computer Desktop

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Your desktop is an easy place to put files and favorite programs for easy access, and that’s OK if you use it as a temporary holding area. But if you let files accumulate there, you can run into two problems: It gets hard to find what you’re looking for; and it can actually slow down your computer, since you’re using more of the computer’s memory.

If your desktop looks like this, you’re probably running into trouble.

Messy_Desktop_by_RuthOrtiz

Image courtesy of RuthOrtiz

 

One reason you may have desktop clutter is because tackling it seems like a very big task. Where do you even start when there are so many files to organize? Follow this tutorial to get rid of what you don’t want and better organize what you do want to keep.

 

Step 1: Put Everything on Your Desktop Into One Folder

 

Make it easier to start the process by creating a folder. You could name it something like “Stuff on Desktop.” Then, highlight everything on your desktop and drag it into the folder. Once you can see what your desktop actually looks like without all the visual clutter, it will be less overwhelming to finish this process so you can keep it that way.

How to move files into a folder on a PC

1. Right click anywhere on your desktop.

2. Scroll down to New and then select Folder at the top of the list that appears.

3. A new folder will appear on your desktop, and you can immediately begin typing to rename it.

4. Next use the mouse to draw a square over all the items and icons on your desktop. This will highlight them all at the same time (you’ll notice they turn a darker color).

5. Drag the highlighted items into your folder.

6. You may have to repeat steps 4 and 5 a few times to move everything.

 

How to move files into a folder on a Mac

NewFolderScreenShot

1. Hold the control key down, and click anywhere on your desktop

2. Select New Folder

3. A new folder will appear on your desktop. Double click the words to rename it.

4. Next use the mouse to draw a square over all the items and icons on your desktop. This will highlight them all at the same time (you’ll notice they turn a darker color).

5. Drag the highlighted items into your folder.

6. You may have to repeat steps 4 and 5 a few times to move everything.

 

Step 2: Throw Out Everything You Don’t Need

 

You probably don’t need everything that was on your desktop. Just like tidying up your home, an important step in tidying up your desktop is throwing out the junk. On your desktop, this may include pictures or files that you downloaded and no longer need.

Putting things in the trash on a PC

Screen Shot 2013-06-23 at 5.07.39 PM

On a PC, you’ll want to select the file you want to trash by clicking on it and dragging it to the Recycle Bin on your desktop.

1. Open the folder on your desktop.

2. Go through each item. If there is something you don’t need, click on it once, then drag it to the recycling bin.

 

Putting things in the trash on a Mac

trashOn a Mac, you’ll want to select the file you want to trash by clicking on it and dragging it to the Trash bin at the far right of your dock.

 

1. Open the folder on your desktop.

2. Go through each item. If there is something you don’t need, click on it once, then drag it to the trash can icon.

 

Emptying Your Trash

But just because you put something in the trash doesn’t mean it goes away forever. You also need to empty the trash, which will clear up space on your computer so it can run more efficiently.

How to empty trash on a PC

1. When you are finished dragging everything you don’t need to the recycling bin, double click the recycling bin.

2. At the top of the window, click Empty Recycle Bin.

 

How to empty trash on a Mac

EmptyTrashScreenShot

1. When you are finished dragging everything you don’t need to the trash can, double click the trash can.

4. Right click on the window that opens up, and select Empty Trash.

 

Step 3: Create New Organizing Folders on Your Desktop  

 

Now that you’ve thrown out everything you don’t need, you can work on organizing everything that’s left. The best way to do this is to create folders for each group of items. This is just like filing important papers into physical folders at home. For example, you might have a lot of family photos; you could create a new folder just for photos.

To do this, create a new folder on your desktop, as you did in step 1 (for Mac or PC), and name it something like “Family Photos.” Then, double click on the “Stuff on Desktop ” folder that you created. Drag all the photos from that folder to the “Family Photos” folder.

Create as many folders as you need to organize your different types of files. If you don’t have a place for some items, create a “Miscellaneous” folder for them.

By the time you’re finished, you should have no files left in your “Stuff on Desktop” folder. You might have some applications left, such as your browser (Like Safari, Firefox, or Microsoft Word). Since you may frequently use these programs, feel free to drag them back to your desktop so you can access them easily when you turn on your computer.

 

Step 4: Finish Tidying Up Your Desktop

 

Now you have things organized into folders, but you’ve added a few folders to your desktop, so it might still look a bit cluttered. Fortunately, there is a feature on both Mac and PC to arrange everything nicely and neatly in columns and rows.

How to arrange your desktop on a PC

1. Right click anywhere on your desktop

2. Click View, then scroll down to Auto Arrange Icons

 

How to arrange your desktop on a Mac

NewFolderScreenShot

1. Right click anywhere on your desktop

2. Select Clean Up. If you have a newer Mac or newer operating system, you will have options on how to organize.

 

Keep Your Desktop Organized!

 

It’s easy for clutter to quickly take over your desktop again, so make sure you continue to use your trash to get rid of what you don’t need and file what do you want to keep in your folders.

See more Tech Tips

 

Got a question? Ask it in the comments box below, or email it to editor@seniorplanet.com

 

COMMENTS

16 responses to “How To Clean Up Your Computer Desktop

  1. This is some really good information about computer desktops. It is good to know that it would be smart to get rid of apps and files that you don’t use. It would be great if you could get an app that would help you manage the files really well on your desktop.

  2. I often save to desk top so that I can find things easily. I recently put all my photos from my phone on the desktop but now want them in my pictures. How do I move them and remove the copy from desktop?

  3. Years ago I had a dell computer. I was trying to clean up my hard drive and attempted to delete the dell_logo.gif files. When I tried to drag them to the Trash, it said: The item “dell_logo.gif” cannot be moved to the Trash because it can’t be deleted. The gif files are now on my desktop. How can I move them back to the hard drive or delete them from my desktop? Do I need to keep these files? Thanks.

  4. Your instructions on “How to clean up your desktop was SUPERB & a great help..THANKS!
    BUT
    WHERE do you store the ‘folders’ you have sorted?
    Can these folder remain on the desktop ?
    OR where else to put them
    I use windows 7 professional 64 bit ?
    Your answer would be appreciated.
    GGB

  5. Thank you SO much! I googled ‘How to group items on desktop into folders on a Mac’ and tried the Mac support response and another one. Neither worked. Then I came across yours – you make it SO easy! Putting all the stuff into a ‘Stuff on Desktop’ folder really helped to overcome the overwhelm. From there it was easy thanks to your very clear instructions. Great to have a clean and neat desktop again! Thanks again!

  6. Hello,

    I am trying to clean up my desktop but, rather than create new folders on my desktop, I would like to put my pictures in my pictures folders on my PC. How do I move the pictures from my desktop to my pictures folder. I also have some documents on my desktop I want to move. I am guessing the process would be the same for the documents as for the pictures?

    Thank you!

    1. Norma-

      If you are using Microsoft Word, you can add page numbers by going to the Insert tab, then adding Header or Footer. Here’s instructions for Word 2007

      https://seniorplanet.org//office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/add-and-format-page-numbers-HP001226513.aspx

      If you are printing from the internet, page numbers will be added and formatted by the browser. Depending on the browser you use, look for print preview or page setup options where you may be able to add/remove or format the way page numbers appear on each page.

      Let me know if you still need more help with this!

      ~Amy

  7. I have Mac OSX 10.8.5 with memory of 8 GB
    plus a LaCie Pro. After downloading Adobes
    CC latest updates I am getting the message my Mac OS X startup dish has no more space available for application memory. I have cleared cookies, done Disk check, and removed files form startup disk turned off computer and turn it back on still I am getting this message… HELP ME IF YOU CAN!!!

    1. Jay-

      You can check your Mac’s real-time memory usage by running a program called “Activity Monitor.” Here are directions on how to do that:

      https://seniorplanet.org//www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-check-your-macs-performance-with-activity-m.html

      You can sort by applications with the highest memory usage and either close or uninstall the applications that are taking up large chunks of memory.

      Hope this helps, but please reply back if you need some more guidance on how to solve the problem.

      Amy

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