How to Quickly DeClutter Your Computer Desktop

A clear desktop is not only great for reducing distraction, and improving your focus and productivity, it’s great for your computer as well. Icons all over a computer desktop are distracting. Instead, clear everything and be left with clarity, calm and focus.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Install a launcher program

Mac users should try either Launchbar or Quicksilver. Windows users could try Launchy or AutoHotKey(for power users). Once set up, the launcher program is activated with a keystroke combination (Command-spacebar in my case), and then you start typing the program or name of the folder or file you want to open.

Usually the correct name will be automatically completed within a few keystrokes, and you press the “Return” key to activate it.

It’s much faster than finding the right icon on your desktop, and then double-clicking it, especially if the desktop is covered by a lot of applications and windows.

2. Delete all application shortcuts

Many people have shortcuts all over their desktops for commonly used applications/programs. You don’t need them anymore, now that you have the launcher program.

Delete them all.

3. Put all folders/files into your Documents folder

Don’t worry too much about sorting them. The launcher program can find them much faster, or you could use the search function of your computer to quickly find anything you’re looking for.

4. Hide everything else

On the PC, right-click on the desktop, go to the “view” menu, and unselect “show desktop icons”. On the Mac, in the Finder, go to File -> Preferences, under General, and unselect all the items under “Show these items on the Desktop”.

Now all your icons should be gone from the desktop.


Doesn’t that look and feel better?

Thanks to Leo Babauta for the ideas contained here.



  1. Personally, it’s not about finding what i want, but about remembering what i want to find.
    In other words, if I have a file that I have put on my desktop and i need to read or check it soon, I won’t remember it unless it sticks in front of me.

  2. @Danny – I agree. If you’re gonna put something on the desktop, make sure you have a reason for putting it on the desktop! Otherwise, file it somewhere that makes sense.

    Before I do anything on a new computer, I get settled in by creating a file folder structure that makes sense to me. Once any folder has more than maybe fifteen or twenty files in it, I start making sub-folders for them so they remain easy to sift through. I like structure 🙂

  3. @Anne — I’ve been trying to do that lately, but sometimes some files can go into different folders. So I’m using aliases.

    @Tjerja — Interesting! I’ll give it a try.

  4. When it comes to windows 7 and your desktop the icons , you want showing on your screen are

    1. My computer
    2. Recycle bin
    3. God mode folder ( win 7 , will cause some vista machines to crash, search Google for codes)( advanced users only , chances are 99% of users don’t need or require this)
    4. Short cut Folder containing all the links/short cuts you HAD on your desktop
    5. Your most used short cut icons , click it and drag it to your quick-launch area and drop it there

    that’s it , you now have a clutter free desktop with EVERYTHING at your finger tips!!!

    thats how i setup my customers computes and have never had a complaint – actually its the other way around , most say how easy it is to find what they need when they need to use it with no fuss

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