4 CLean Up Tips To Declutter Your XP or Vista Desktop Without Deleting Anything


Are you a pack rat with your Windows XP or Vista desktop?

You know you are if your desktop looks anything like this:


What a mess. Sure, all the icons are organized in nice neat rows and columns. But honestly, that's the only thing organized about it. What a double-vision-icon nightmare these desktops are when I have to work on people's computers.

So instead of telling them to get rid of everything, I show them a better way to clean up and organize their desktop, with out deleting anything.




Quick Launch

Quick Launch is just a folder on your computer, which the content can be made visible as part of the task bar located next to the Start button.


Quick Launch is the perfect companion to the Start menu, except you only drop items in it that you use frequently (the reason why it's called Quick launch).

These items are usually shortcuts to programs, files and folders. So if you look at your desktop, that's really what you have…shortcuts to programs, files and folders.

Now, I only use my Quick launch for programs and files that I use frequently (later I'll show you a  better solution for folders).

If you don't see Quick Launch next to the Start button, just right click on the taskbar then select Toolbars \ Quick Launch.


From here, you can add items by dragging them on top of Quick Launch, or right click just before the double arrows to open the Quick Launch folder.

clutter-desktop4NOTE: Right clicking before the arrows can be a little tricky. Instead you can access the Quick Launch folder under your user profile in the folder – \Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch (in XP) and \AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch (in Vista).

You can also create new folders to organize your items, add files to your preference. When finished, just close the folder.

The width of the Quick Launch bar can be adjusted by grabbing the bar and moving left or right to display more or less icons. If you don't see the bar, unlock it by right clicking on an empty area of the taskbar and un-select Lock the Taskbar.

Adding Toolbars To The Taskbar

Have a lot of shortcuts to folders? Then adding a toolbar to the taskbar is the perfect solution to de-cluttering your desktop.

Start off by creating an empty folder, called Folder Shortcuts (or what ever you want to call it) somewhere on your hard drive, such as in your My Documents folder.

Next, drag all those folder shortcuts sitting on your desktop into this folder (you can also include files if you want to).

Now, right click on an empty area of the taskbar and select Toolbars \ New Toolbars and browse for the folder that you just created.

You will now have a new toolbar, similar to Quick Launch, next to the System tray. This will allow for easy access to those folder shortcuts that USED to clutter up your desktop.


Just like the Quick Launch bar, you can add items to the toolbar by dragging them on top of the toolbar.

Create A Docking Toolbar

If you don't like adding toolbars to the taskbar, then create a docking toolbar.

To do this, open My Computer or Windows Explorer and create a new folder any where on your hard drive. Then add the shortcuts (from your desktop) to the new folder.

When finished, shrink Windows Explorer or My Computer window so you can see part of your desktop, now left click and drag the folder to the very top of your screen and release your mouse (make sure you touch the top of your screen before releasing).

The new toolbar will dock itself to the top of the screen. You can also dock toolbars to either side of the screen if you prefer.


NOTE: To remove the toolbar, just right click on it and select "Close Toolbar". To move it to another location on your screen, left click and hold on the very left side of the toolbar (before the sliding bar) and drag it.

Cleanup The Start Menu By Sorting and Organizing

One of the reasons why people clutter up their desktops is because their Start menu becomes a cluttered mess. But if you spend a little time and organize the contents, it will become more useful.

First, start off by opening the Start menu folder by right clicking on the Start button and select Open. At this level you can add/delete and organize items that appear when you click on Programs (Classic style) or All Programs (default style). Make sure you organize the Start Menu folder and the Program folder.

Next, right click on the Start button and select Properties then Customize. Depending on which style you are using, several options exist to enable or disable items that appear on the Start menu. Take time to go through everything and only enable items you really need.

Make sure you click on the Sort button. By doing so, will alphabetize the items in the list allowing you to easily find items.

Once you have finshed, your desktop will (hopefully) never look the same again!

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Dylan Austin


Whenever I have a problem, I sing. Then I realize my voice is worse than my problem.

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