Speed up your computer by cleaning up your desktop

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How would you describe your computer’s desktop screen?

  1. Simple and organized
  2. Nuclear disaster
  3. Something in between

If you chose #2 or #3, I am assigning you some homework.  Clean up your desktop!

Messy desktop

Before you say, “But that’s how I know where to find my stuff!”… hang in there for a second.  I have a strategy that will work for you.

There’s a big reason to NOT store actual pictures, documents and folders on your desktop.  It slows down your computer.  If your computer runs slowly, this is a good way to speed it up a bit (or maybe a lot).

So how do you have that extra speed, but still have quick access to your frequently-used files?  Through the use of shortcuts.

Look at the icons on your desktop.  Do you see any that have a little arrow in the lower left corner?  That means that icon is a shortcut.  In other words, even though the icon might say “2009 tax return”, it’s not the actual document – it’s just an icon that points to where the document is.  If you delete it, all you are deleting is the icon; the actual file is stored somewhere else.

So here is what you do.  Open your Documents folder so that you can see it, and move it so that you can see some of your desktop icons as well.

Pick one of the icons.  For example, let’s say you choose a Word document called “Party invitations”.  Take that icon and drag it into the Documents folder.

Now, RIGHT click on the icon in the Documents folder and choose Send To – Desktop – Create shortcut.

See what happened?  You now have that icon back on your desktop, for wonderful easy access, but the actual document is in the Documents folder.

Just do this for every file you have stored on your desktop.  This will not only speed up your computer, but it could be the first step toward getting your computer more organized!

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July 11th, 2011

Thanks for the tip on cleaning up desktops – I didn’t realize the documents stored without the shortcut would slow us down… you supplied easy instructions to follow!