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  1. #1
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    Help in keeping your desktop organized




    BEST SOFTWARE

    Help in keeping your desktop organized

    By Nathan Segal

    For most of us, our PCs eventually resemble our attics — crammed with stuff we're sure we'll want to use again — someday.
    If your Windows desktop is a sea of applications and file icons — some needed, others, not so much — two apps can help you get your desktop organized.

    The full text of this column is posted at WindowsSecrets.com/best-software/help-in-keeping-your-desktop-organized/ (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
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    The best argument for Fences

    A great feature in Fences 2 (not 1) is Portals; you can have an area of your desktop that's a "window" into another folder. Ho hum until you discover that the folder contents can be displayed in any of the usual Windows ways; by detail, icon etc , and sorted how you want. I've haven't seen this feature in any other utility.

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    I am definitely in the "clear desktop" camp. My (dual screen) desktop is usually obscured by running applications, so putting items there does not help me. What I use instead is True Launch Bar, which allows me to group commonly used applications and folders/files into two pop-up menus next to the start button on the taskbar (it does lots more, such as automated workspaces, which I don't use). There are two Groups of applications which have a "Group Launch" button, which mean that they will all launch with a single click. I get to keep a clear desktop, which quick access to what I need from the taskbar. Perfect...for me!

    2014-08-21_09-33-25.png

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    Myself, I just use a few things built into Windows 7.
    Just like paper world, filing everything on your desktop just creates big piles. What about just using Windows Explorer? Create a folder structure. You can create a WE shortcut that opens to your filing setup. Or one of the freeware alternatives? Myself I do that outside of My Docs because so many other programs dump junk in there.

    A few key apps I use all the time I pin to the taskbar. A few others to the Start menu and some others I put in a Toolbar folder, then added that as a new Toolbar on the toolbar.

    Also not mentioned - you can add the Desktop as a toolbar. Push it over to the right and it become a menu. Any folders you have on your desktop are directly accessible there, without minimizing anything.

  5. #5
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    What most folks use to get the clutter off their desktops is the Windows Start Menu. This is why such an uproar happened over Windows 8. Without a popup Start Menu, either the Windows desktop becomes intolerably cluttered, or else we have to take the dizzying whirl from Legacy Desktop to Metro Start Menu, and scroll and scroll and scroll... UGH!!

    Even the Windows Start Menu can get cluttered. Sadly, there's no Fences for the Start Menu.

    I use Folders on my Linux and Windows desktops.

    In Linux I could also take each of what Stardock calls a Fence and make it an entire Desktop, then switch amongst my Desktops. I could even have different Desktop types -- KDE, GNU-GNOME, Unity, etc. to the ends of the earth. All my desktops could be unified by the Launch Bar on the left side of my Main Desktop. There are limitations on the number of desktops possible for Linux. This is the one paradigm which never seems to have caught on with Windows users. I don't know why not.

    As for Folders on the desktop, they do present issues when trying to do some housekeeping, but otherwise, I find them to be perfectly functional. Libraries are another possibility in recent Windows versions.

    Ubuntu Linux also has a flyout Dash, like the Wnidows 8 Search Charm. This also has its uses.

    I added back the GNOME Menu to the Ubuntu Unity top panel (taskbar) in case I couldn't remember the spelling or names of things I needed or wanted to call up at any given time. Top panel icons with drop-down menus are called AppIndicators in Ubuntu Unity.

    Ubuntu (Unity) also uses a Launcher on the left side of the desktop. This gets very cluttered over time, so it's not a good option. Like the Win8 Metro Start Menu, you end up scrolling and scrolling and scrolling...

    Windows utilities may exist to do all of these types of desktop organizing as in Linux. Each way of organizing will appeal to certain types of users, and not to others.

    I use so many full-screen or multi-Window applications that I can't afford to be constantly fiddling around with finding icons on my desktop. Same goes for Linux. It just is not efficient for me to operate from the desktop in this way.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2014-08-21 at 15:48.
    -- Bob Primak --

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    Is it just me, or do these desktop organisers look uncannily like the (venerable) Windows 3.1 desktop with its individual window panes for different items, e.g. ‘Main’ ‘Program Manager’ etc? Back to the Future and all that!

    What has always puzzled me is why Microsoft, never implemented the Common User Access (CUA) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_User_Access at the desktop level, i.e. had a ‘proper’ menu bar for Windows, as we had for all programs until that wretched ‘Ribbon’ came along. If someone wrote a CUA to replace the Windows interface, as Ivo Beltchev and team have done for ‘Classic Shell’, I’d be the first to pay up, and happy to do so knowing I’ll have the same interface on Windows till I die!

    Merf

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    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merf View Post
    Is it just me, or do these desktop organisers look uncannily like the (venerable) Windows 3.1 desktop with its individual window panes for different items, e.g. ‘Main’ ‘Program Manager’ etc? Back to the Future and all that!

    What has always puzzled me is why Microsoft, never implemented the Common User Access (CUA) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_User_Access at the desktop level, i.e. had a ‘proper’ menu bar for Windows, as we had for all programs until that wretched ‘Ribbon’ came along. If someone wrote a CUA to replace the Windows interface, as Ivo Beltchev and team have done for ‘Classic Shell’, I’d be the first to pay up, and happy to do so knowing I’ll have the same interface on Windows till I die!

    Merf
    Yes, the similarities are uncanny.

    Also, the Ubuntu Unity Launcher has an uncanny resemblance to the old Office 97 and before Office Tool Bar.

    What's old is new all over again! Good ideas never really go away; they are rediscovered and resold as something new.

    Classic Shell would just about do it for me if I wanted the Classic Menus in Windows 9.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    In Linux I could also take each of what Stardock calls a Fence and make it an entire Desktop, then switch amongst my Desktops.
    The recent new Fences [version 2] has that, it's called Desktop Pages. It works well if you like a lot of icons visible, I find Alt+mousewheel the easiest way to switch between them.

    Another thing not mentioned is managing where new icons go. Rather than the default 'general desktop', I have a fence called New Stuff, and direct them there--easier to find quickly.

  9. The Following User Says Thank You to Mike Feury For This Useful Post:

    bobprimak (2014-08-24)

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    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Feury View Post
    The recent new Fences [version 2] has that, it's called Desktop Pages. It works well if you like a lot of icons visible, I find Alt+mousewheel the easiest way to switch between them.

    Another thing not mentioned is managing where new icons go. Rather than the default 'general desktop', I have a fence called New Stuff, and direct them there--easier to find quickly.
    Nice to see Windows beginning to catch up with Linux on this point.
    -- Bob Primak --

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    I don't use desktop icons. I pin the most frequently used apps to the taskbar and a simple click on the start orb followed by typing in the name of the app I want is sufficient for the others. I have desktop icons turned off so I have a nice clean desktop without yet another third party app.
    (Right click on a blank area of the desktop, View > uncheck Show Desktop Icons)

    Others prefer the desktop icons. What ever works for you. However I did get one PC in for repair that had the desktop completely covered with icons including her word files. Windows refreshes desktop icons on boot so this added noticeably to boot time.

    Jerry

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    The start menu can be organized into a personal hierarchy; it is a folder, after all, and can have subfolders like any folder (I use StartIsBack in Windows 8, and dual boot Windows 7). I have some folders on my desktop for frequently accessed file groups, some file icons for regularly accessed files, and some program icons. I use Windows to organize my desktop icons according to type, aligned to grid. Nothing moves around, and I can remember where everything is.

    Nothing really gets in the way of anything else, particularly when the desktop is a click away from the bottom right corner. Everything I have open is shown on the taskbar, so switching is simple as well. The Snap function is quite handy for a couple of things that I do regularly.

    I've been using most of these since Windows 95, have become quite accustomed to where things are located, and my workflow is not impeded. I don't care to learn a new paradigm when the one I'm in works so well for me. I don't use libraries, I use partitions instead. My Documents is just my documents; there's no music, no photos, no videos, just documents. I've got partitions for music, photos, videos, and folder trees in those partitions organized in the way I've been using for years. I don't use Search, maybe once or twice a year.
    Create a new drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "Let them that don't want it have memories of not gettin' any." "Gratitude is riches and complaint is poverty and the worst I ever had was wonderful." Brother Dave Gardner "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else." Sir Thomas Robert Deware. "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?" Captain Jack Sparrow.
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  13. #12
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    Thank you, Nathan!

    Well. I came to this thread to thank Nathan for his article on the desktop organizers. I have been driven mad by the clutter all over my desktop, all either stuff I don't want to forget until I read it or programs I use rarely and might forget the name of. So it was perfect timing to see his article (even though I was late reading it).

    Then, in this thread, I discovered all kinds of other solutions. I use folders but they're all over the place now, too.

    I still want to thank Nathan, but now I'm going to do a lot more detailed re-reading on Fences and Nimi ... and all the suggestions in this thread. Sounds as if the trick is getting a system that works for the way you work. Anything will be better than the clutter that pops up (and wastes start up time) every time I turn on my PC.

    Appreciatively,

    Linda

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