Clean Up Your Windows Desktop

Sure a clean desktop is satisfying, but it'll make your PC faster, too

What to Know

  • Put files on the desktop in the My Documents folder (or anywhere other than the desktop).
  • Create shortcuts on the desktop for the files you use frequently. Use the Start Menu to park app shortcuts.

This article explains how to clean up your Windows desktop and keep it that way.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 11, 10, 8, and, 7.

How to Clean Up Your Windows Desktop

It comes down to this (and you might not like to hear it): Put your stuff away. Now, of course, it's convenient to keep items on the desktop, but creating a series of folders in the My Documents folder and using them to keep yourself organized keeps your desktop clear. So that means Windows doesn't have to spend time maintaining the icons on the desktop.

If you are worried about delving into the file structure each time you need a file, you can create shortcuts on your desktop for the folders or files you frequently use.

Path to Create Desktop Shortcut

How to Keep Your Desktop Clean

Make a conscious effort to "park" fewer icons on your desktop. Other steps you can take include:

  1. Use the Start Menu as a parking place for app shortcuts. Pin any app on your desktop to the Start Menu by right-clicking it and selecting Pin to Start.

    Pin to Start selection
  2. Hide all the icons on the desktop by right-clicking on the desktop, going to View and deselecting Show desktop icons in the context menu. Repeat the process to show them again.

    Menu showing Show Desktop icons option

    You may need to organize your Start Menu into groups to keep everything there tidy and accessible.

  3. Delete any shortcuts, screenshots, or files you no longer use.

  4. Gather all the files and folders you want to keep on the desktop and instead place them in a single folder on the desktop

  5. Schedule a weekly or monthly cleaning to corral any stray items that have gathered on your desktop since the last cleanup.

Before you know it, hoarding files on your desktop will be a thing of the past and your computer will be running like it did when it was new.

  • How do I change my desktop wallpaper?

    Changing your wallpaper can add personality to your PC. Of course, that personality can become distracting and take up memory in your PC. Here are the steps if you still want to change the wallpaper: Start > Settings > Personalization > Background. If you want more information, we have a whole article dedicated to changing the desktop wallpaper for Windows 11.

  • How can I change the look of Windows 11?

    You can make quite a number of changes so you can personalize Windows 11 to your liking. You can even change Windows 11 to look more like Windows 10 by moving the taskbar, changing the wallpaper, and more.

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