How Many Items Do You Have on Your Computer Desktop? [Reader Feedback]

Evan clean desktop

I’ll admit it. Until recently, I was a desktop slob. Despite my best intentions, the desktops on my computers were all jammed full, mostly with junk. If a program placed an icon there during installation, I never bothered to remove it. I typically would use my desktop as the destination for downloads, too. This resulted in an even bigger mess.

Recently, though, I’ve changed. I’m not sure what triggered it, but I’ve been on a tidy desktop kick lately. The desktops on both my work and personal computers are now pristine. Are my a freak now, or was I an oddball when my desktop was a mess? This trivial issue has me curious. How messy is your desktop?

On my iMac’s desktop, I now have three items. I have a “Clean up” folder, the channel changer widget for my eyeTV, and the slide-in drawer for DevonThink. The “Clean up” folder is a folder that older items on the desktop automatically get dumped into, via Hazel. Lately, though, I don’t even wait for the Hazel cleanup rule to kick in. If I see an item on my desktop, I deal with it.

Yes, I went from about 50 items on my desktop, to three. How many items are on your desktop? Do you think keeping a neat desktop really even matters?

Evan Kline

Hello, I'm Evan. I write about tech from my perspective – that of the average 40-something tech geek. You can also find me on Twitter and at my real-life job as a lawyer.    MORE ABOUT ME.


  1. When I ran the wmx window manager, none (you can’t), and I liked it.

    My desktop is usually hidden behind windows, I put nothing on it, but usually leave it alone. I don’t use what is there, that’s what menus are for.

  2. On my current desktop, I have two “gadgets” and zero icons. I prefer to keep it sparse.

    BTW, I have some kind of timeline of my various desktops throughout the decade (though it hasn’t been updated in over a year and a half):

  3. Just one folder, which is concealed by using an invisible icon and a hard space as name. Not for security reasons, of course; i prefer a pristine desktop.

  4. Items on my desktop now;
    Mac: 0
    PC: 3

  5. The desktop is MY workspace. If any shortcuts or downloads go there, I move/delete them.

    However, things that I’m actively working on go on my desktop until I’m finished. Freelance assignments and the like. When I’m finished, I file them.

    • That’s what I’ve started doing. I used to create working folders on my desktop, with the date of creation as the folder name. After a period of time, I’d go in and delete the older folders.

  6. I use the dock on Windows 7 for all my frequently used software. Currently, my desktop has just one icon – The recycle bin and frankly, I’m thinking of removing it as well.

    I often use the desktop as a destination for my downloads, but move the files to their appropriate locations right after the job is done.

  7. one — a shortcut to my Home folder!

  8. 2 icons. No dock or gadgets. There is no way to launch any apps using a mouse.

    Years ago, I setup accel keys to launch the programs I use all the time and 1 that launches an xterm. Bash is the ultimate launcher after all.

  9. I just counted Seventy Nine out of a possible 9×18=162 small icons. My teenage son looked over my shoulder and said “Dad, that is a mess; clean it up!”

    I have no use for the desk-top; except as a ‘permanent repository’ for ‘temporary files’ – oxymoron ;-).

    I use local web-pages to organise all my applications and links. Maybe I could customise the Desk-Top to look like my web-page?

    OTOH, my Task-Bar has 12 frequently-used progs (including my autostart index.html) and 4 + 9 icons in the tray.

    The Web (Windows, Linux, Mac etc.) the way I want it!

  10. Ijust keep the shortcut of the programs which i use regularly for my Administration Work

  11. honestly, i don’t wanna count! lol i guess i’m still a desktop slob for now but i’ve been dreaming of removing those useless programs from my computer. Hope i find the time to do so. great article, tnx for sharing!

  12. Hi, My desktop used to be in a kind of mess until I read a post about how a clean desktop may help you speed up your Mac. From that day, I realised how important is to clean your desktop periodically and make it look good. But now, I have trimmed the item on the desktop to 10-12.

  13. I use a desktop app/enhancement called Fences. Ideally like keeping shortcuts of often used folders and current projects on my desktop. Fences is a great way to keep the shortcuts organized and neat. I’ve tinkered around with my desktop for 10+ years, but since I found Fences I haven’t had to mess with my desktop layout for 2+ years now.

  14. I haven’t had a cluttered desktop in quite a while. It truly does improve productivity, IMO.
    Anywho, I use a little program called Rainmeter. My RAM doesn’t take a huge hit from it, and it gives your desktop personality. I also use a dock to launch my programs, called RocketDock. It is basically a copy of the Mac dock for Windows. There’s all kinds of themes you can download for both of these. I get mine from
    Sorry to go off topic there, but it’s a great thing to have on your computer. Recommended…by me!
    So here’s my desktop!

  15. Pingback: Geek Out Your Desktop With Rainmeter [Windows] | 40Tech

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