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There is one thing that really stood out in the past year while helping some of my fellow Mac users solve or troubleshoot a problem with their computers or software. Cluttered desktops.



And I don’t mean one or two items, I mean about 50 to 100 items sitting on their desktops.

A visual nightmare. I’ve never understood how one can work like this, but I see it all the time.


Personally, I’ve always looked at the computers hard drive as a filing cabinet, with dividers and folders within. Having items residing on the desktop is like physically having stacks of folders and papers bubbling out of and on top of that file cabinet, clutter. 

Aside from wasted time rustling through folders and files trying to find the right one on the desktop, and yes, I do know that some people specialize in organized clutter; there’s another reason you might not want to purposely clutter your desktop.


The Finder will treat any file or folder on the desktop as a Window. With too many files and folders cluttering your desktop, your computers performance will suffer. There, if a cluttered desktop doesn’t bother you, I know that a slower computer will. 


If there’s a need to have quick access from the desktop to a folder within the hard drive, like the Documents folder, create an alias of that folder and only have the alias residing on the desktop. It’s like creating a portal. And, while it makes the desktop more clutter free, it eases up on the work the Finder has to do.



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4 Responses to Time to Clean Up

  1. Audrey Williams says:

    I try to tell my users that all the time. I have worked on some machines where the users have had over 200 files on the desktop to the point where the icons are stacked on top of each other. In some cases I have politely dumped those files into one folder and moved it off the desktop and left them an alias to get to that folder.

    Great post Chita!

  2. Great advice, Chita. Would this situation cause performance issues? Sometimes I make a folder on the desktop and just dump whatever clutter has collected into the one folder “temporarily.”
    Would just one or 2 such folders slow things down, or only multiple items?

    (With stuff coming at you all the time, seems too many things are “current”! – All of which are important, naturally!)

  3. Chita says:

    Mary Jo,

    For that very purpose (to cover both of your questions), I create a subfolder in my Documents folder titled ‘Current.’ All ‘current” stuff goes in here. An alias to this folder is on the desktop.