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Uncluttering Your Computer DesktopViews: 159
Aug 17, 2005 9:11 pm Uncluttering Your Computer Desktop

Garland Coulson

I had a visit from a friend of mine lately who came to Vancouver Island and went golfing with myself and my brother.  After my humiliation on the golf course (why do I play a sport I am SO bad at?), we went back to my place.  During a few beers while sitting on my deck, my friend mentioned that he often had difficulty knowing where files and programs he needed were on his computer. 

This has been a common theme among my clients, especially ones who didn't grow up with computers like young people do now.  Like many of you, I struggled for years with how to organize my computer.  Eventually, I developed some techniques to minimize desktop clutter while maximizing my access to needed files and programs.

I shared these techniques with my friend so he wouldn't waste time at work trying to find things.

While it might not specifically relate to Internet marketing, I am going to share with you my simple techniques to give you fingertip access to your common programs and your files.  After all, if you are better organized, you'll have that much more time for marketing online...

I'll start off by showing you a screen shot of how my computer desktop is set up. 

As you can see, I can easily access my common programs from the Quick Launch bar.  In addition, I created toolbars for the folders my documents are kept in.  My files are easily accessed in the pull down menu from this toolbar, like so:

The Quick Launch bar is set to auto hide when I am not using it.  I can easily reactivate it by pointing at the top of the screen.

Here is the three step process for how to get your computer screen to look like this.  These instructions assume you are using Windows XP, but it is possible to do this with some adaptation in Windows 98 or ME.

Step 1:  The Quick Launch Bar

For most people, the Quick Launch Bar is located at the bottom right left side of the screen, just to the right of the Start button.  If yours is missing, right click with your mouse on the grey area anywhere on the bottom toolbar that doesn't have an icon or information.  On the menu that comes up when you right click, choose [Toolbars] then click on [Quick Launch].

Now, your Quick Launch tool bar should show up.  To move your Quick Launch Bar to the top of the screen like mine, look for the vertical line to the left of the bar.  Point to it with your mouse until you see a double arrow  show up.  Then right click and drag the bar up to the top.  Don't worry if you drop it part way, you can just grab it again.

To add programs to the Quick Launch Bar, find a program you want to run, then right click on it and choose [create shortcut].  This puts a short cut to the program on your desktop.  Then, just drag the shortcut onto the Quick Launch Bar.  You can then delete the shortcut from the desktop.

To make your toolbar automatically hide unless you point to it, right click on the Quick Launch Bar and choose [Auto-hide].  Now the toolbar disappears unless you move your mouse to the top of your screen, getting it out of the way of your work.

Step 2:  Creating a File Toolbar

Now you have a great way to quickly access your programs, but what about your files, documents and pictures?  If you get into the habit of making sure all your documents, files, etc, are all in file folders in the My Documents folder on your computer, you can easily add an extra toolbar to your Quick Launch Bar to access them.

Right click on the grey area of your Quick Launch Bar and choose [toolbars] then [new toolbars].  Then choose the My Documents folder (or whatever folder your documents are kept in).  This creates a pull down menu with all your folders easily accessible.  You can quickly find whatever document you need and click on it to open it.

Step 3:  Reducing the Number of Icons

Not everyone will need to do this, but I found I had far too many icons in the bottom right of my computer screen.  So I set only the most critical ones to show up and the rest to "hide" or "hide when inactive."  The main icons I wanted to see all the time were the ones for my computer security, my firewall and virus protection and the rest I didn't care about.

To fix this, once again, I right clicked on the bottom toolbar and chose [properties].  Then, under the notifications section, I chose [customize].  This gave me a list of icons and let me change how they showed up.

The result?  A nice clean desktop.  Now you have to keep it that way!  :)

Garland Coulson, "The E-Business Tutor"
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