how do you organize your #$@#* computer desktop??

hi everyone

my desktop looks like birds landed all over the place, dozens and dozens of folders, word files, cllippings, pix, apps, etc.

I wish for a desktop (Mac os10.4.11) app that divided the monitor into boxes, and that what you named those boxes and what you put in them stayed there, so like 20 boxes would work, i use a 30" monitor at work.

but since I cant find any app like that, how do you org your desktop that WORKS for you, esp if youre bus y family, at work, with ka-jillion balls in the air at once.

I did look at david allens thingie, wont work. Archive will never be looked at again. Too much stuff comes in every day to just throw it into an 'in box' folder.

please help?

thank you


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trash can? ;-)

More seriously, are you willing/wanting to drag the files yourself to their respective places? or are you wanting something that will figure out for you where to put things?

if you want to do it yourself, simply use a simple paint program to make a desktop image file. Make the20 boxes, and give them all different colors. Next, add the names of the boxes to them (big, bold letters that nearly fill the entire space would be best), and then save and set the file as your desktop background. Next, start dragging things where they ought to be.

A couple pointers/thoughts.

1. In the Finder's preferences, under "General" turn off the display of all media (hard disks, CDs, servers, etc.)

2. With only the Desktop showing, type command-J. Toward the bottom, you should see an item with a popup menu, named "Arrange by". Choose "None". Now you can drag your icons wherever you want. You can even multi-stack them (icons on top of each other).

The most important thing you can do, however, is keep it clean--that means a daily or weekly review of what's there, and removal of items no longer pertinent.

Have at it.




The easiest way to keep one's desktop clean is to not put stuff there as a first choice.

My virtual desktop contains only apps. And the only apps that go there are things I use regularly, even daily.

I keep files, clips, etc. elsewhere, in folders that are not stored on the desktop.

I had to laugh, the desktop you describe, with boxes that hold icons that stay where you put them, sounds like Windows 3.11 to me. :)

My real desktop is contributed to by people other than me, so it's a mess. I haven't figured out how to bend the real world to my will yet. :/



In my experience, icons move even when you turn off that feature. Why not create several "meta" inboxes, and always save files to an appropriate file? My desktop has "personal", a folder for each class I teach, a file for research projects, etc.

I try not to save anything straight to the desktop... but if I do, it's to use right away then file or delete.

Organizing Desktop

Just wanted to let you know that I think your wish came true - you can have boxes on your desktop. Take a look at the following link. This program is free for personal use:

I do not use the fences program, but have purchased Stardock Professional. I have a "Mac" like bar at the bottom of my desktop for all my most frequent programs, drive shortcuts, weather etc.

I also have a tabbed dock at the top for links I want close at hand, but do not use all the time. I have a number of links to spreadsheets that I frequently use, so they are only a click away.

Enjoy (I am a happy user, but not associated in any way with the software provider)

Stardock Fences: Windows-Only?

Looks like a nice app, but if I'm reading right it's for Windows only and (again, if I'm reading right) archangel's on a Mac. DragThing for the Mac looks similar: About DragThing . I use DragThing as a secondary apps dock with tabs for grouping apps by function (work, web, sync, utilities, etc.) and love it.

Desktop Organization

NOTE - I tried to post, but had not signed up. When that message gets approved, it may show up in forum. Didn;t want to keep you waiting, so i registered and will try to post again.

Archangel - please look at the following link. I think this will answer your request nicely! AND - it's FREE!

As i mention in my other post, I use the Stardock Pro product. Allows me to set up a Mac like quick access bar, and tabbed windows as well for quick links. A++++++ products!

stick to applications only

I've learned the hard way to never save files directly to my desktop, only applications.

My mantra now is
Rule 1. never save a file to the desktop
Rule 2. never, ever save a file to the desktop
Rule 3. Remember, (my workplace) resets the desktops on all computers to the corporate applications every night and will delete any additional files
Rule 4. never, ever, ever save a file to the desktop

3's helped me keep everything neat and tidy :P

How I organize my desktop


I've briefly read thru many responses to this post and know others have given you a lot of good feedback. Here's what I do with my mac (you can adapt this for pc use really easy, i'm sure).

I have 3 things on my desktop:

1. The icon to my hard drive. I don't actually use this much because I access files and apps in my computer via a different method. However, I have a fun little icon that "personifies" my computer and I like to see him there.

2. Inbox. My inbox is where I shove all the docs, images, downloads from the web into one space. Right now it contains 2 gigs worth of things that I need to deal with and sort through. Having an inbox keeps all the "things" on yer desktop contained. You can then sort thru this on a regular basis to file away, trash, or deal with as you see fit. Some people will add monthly folders inside this inbox and if they don't touch that folder in a few month's time, they'll back it up somewhere and just delete it off their system to save space.

3. IGA Folder. This is a macintosh "smart folder" that contains several DEVONthink databases. IGA stands for Information Gathering Assistants. When I need to open up one of these databases, i just go into that folder and viola, the information is retreived.

And that's all i keep on my desktop. Two years ago, I wrote this essay for this site that details what works for me on my computer. It may also help you.

Good luck and let us know how yer digital decluttering project worked out!


Sounds like you are still using DevonThink as your main organizational tool. Which version? Have you upgraded to the 2.0 beta series?

I have been trying out the beta of the 2.0 Personal version. Have yet to take the plunge and actually pay for the upgrade.


Can you upgrade to Leopard ?

"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

that's an idea, but...

No using the Desktop for that. Desktop is the same on all 16 (max number) of the Spaces. Finder windows will be necessary.