A while back I rendered aid to CG Hill and some of his commenters on an issue of Windows irritation:

It bubbles up from the System Tray on a seemingly-random basis: “You have unused icons on your desktop,” it scolds, while offering to invoke a Wizard to make things right. Click the X button to make it go away, and it comes back unchanged; wait a few more minutes and eventually it dissolves.

You can actually fix this with the following steps:

  1. Go to Desktop Properties by either right-clicking on the desktop or going through the Control Panel
  2. Click on the Desktop tab
  3. Click “Customize Desktop”
  4. Click checkbox that says “Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every 60 days”

It’s a matter of taste, of course, but I have an aversion to clutter on the desktop. But even if you don’t feel the same way, I have a suggestion.

Some of you are probably familiar with the Quicklaunch button. When Windows 2000 or Windows XP is initially installed, it usually has four or so icons on it (Internet Explorer, Show Desktop, Outlook Express, and Windows Media Player, I think). As Microsoft gives it to you, it’s kind of an annoyance. But you can use it in a way that obviates the need for desktop clutter and even the Start Menu for the most part. If you set it up like I do, most likely you can have all of the applications that you use available at a single click.

Here is what to do:

  1. Right click on the Start Bar and either unlock it or make sure it is unlocked. Note that this step is unnecessary in Windows 2000.
  2. If the Quicklaunch Bar is not already on the Start Bar, right click, go to Toolbars, and click on Quicklaunch.

  3. Left click the bar to the left of the Quicklaunch icons and drag it to the right side of your screen so that it places against the side. You can do this along top or to the right, though if you do it to the right you will accidentally open programs when attempting to scroll
    Right click on empty spot on the Quicklaunch bar and say “Always on Top”
  4. Add shortcuts to all of the icons that you use on a regular basis by copying the shortcut over to the Quicklaunch Bar. You can find the icons in the Start Menu at {C:\Documents and Settings\-Your User Name Here-\Start Menu} and {C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu}. You can also right click to copy straight from the Start Menu, though this is a bit dexterity-requiring for me.
  5. Play around with it a few days. Try to use it. Once you start, it becomes really handy. If you like having access to it but don’t like the fact that it’s always visible, you can try using the auto-hide feature.

You can click on the image to the right to get a full view of what it looks like and how much space it takes. There’s no particular reason that my Start Bar is double-stacked except that I use a lot of applications and I like it that way.


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3 Responses to Cleaning Up The Desktop

  1. Bob V says:

    I endorse Slickrun. It’s a really tiny program that probably takes up less space than my quicklaunch bar. You invoke it with a customizable keystroke. (I use Ctrl+Space.) You can launch any program from it from the keyboard by typing (usually) the first character of the program. After you get more comfortable with it, you can configure it for more. For example, I have it set up so I can open a new message to e-mail someone I write to often with a single character.

    Also, when you are not using it it displays a clock, so you can get rid of the one in your system tray.

    If you are a keyboard guy, it’s great. “Ctrl+space, t” opens my e-mail (thunderbird). “Ctrl+space, w” opens word. “Ctrl+space, p” opens powerpoint. “Ctrl+space, g smurfs” googles smurfs. You get the idea.

  2. trumwill says:

    Bob,

    I’ll have to give that one a try. It’s certainly a step better than alt-cntl macros. I almost always use Win-E to open explorer, so I could see myself digging keyboard application opening.

  3. Bob V says:

    Today’s PhD comics relates to this topic.

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