3 Ways to Replace and Reduce Your Windows Desktop Shortcuts Clutter

Clear Desktop Clutter Featured Image

What’s on your desktop? Is it cluttered with all the shortcuts you don’t need? If you’re like a lot of Windows users, you may store application shortcuts, files, and folders on the desktop to make them easily accessible. We think putting the icon on the desktop makes it easier to find, but when we have too many of them, it actually becomes even more difficult.

To help your computer performance and reduce stress caused by the digital clutter, only have shortcuts for apps you use. But if you clear them from the desktop, you will need a different way to access your most-used apps and files quickly.

Here are a few ways you can get control of your desktop clutter.

1. Use the Start Menu

The Start menu is like a table of contents where you can find all of the programs and file locations on your computer. It’s always accessible, no matter what application you are working in. Access the Start Menu either by clicking the Windows icon in the bottom-left corner of the screen or by pressing the Win button on your keyboard.

On the right side of the menu, you can add tiles for the programs you use often.

1. Locate the program shortcut you want to add to the Start menu.

2. Right-click the icon.

3. Click Pin to start.

Clear Desktop Clutter Pin To Start

4. Delete the icon from the desktop.

You can do the same thing with folders and file locations but not for individual files.

Organize your Start Menu

When you start adding shortcuts to the Start menu, it can become cluttered as well if you are not careful.

You can organize the Start menu by creating groups of similar program tiles. There are several pre-made categories on the menu, but you can customize them to your needs.

Clear Desktop Clutter Organize Start Menu

Change the name of the group by clicking on the existing title and typing a new one. Rearrange the groups by grabbing the two horizontal lines next to the title and dragging it to a new location.

2. Use the Taskbar

The taskbar is an element of Windows located at the bottom of the screen. It allows you to launch pinned programs and view programs that are running.

Pinning program shortcuts to the taskbar allows you to open them with one click at any time. To pin the programs to the taskbar:

1. Right-click on the shortcut you want to pin.

2. Click on “Pin to Taskbar.”

Clear Desktop Clutter Pin To Taskbar

3. Delete the shortcut from the desktop.

If you have a large number of icons you want to keep on the taskbar, you can change the size of the icons to fit more icons without causing the taskbar to increase in size.

1. Right-click on the taskbar.

2. Click on “Taskbar Settings.”

Clear Desktop Clutter Taskbar Settings

3. Click on the toggle switch under “Use small taskbar buttons.”

Clear Desktop Clutter Taskbar Icons Size

3. Change the way you launch your apps

If you want a super-clean look, you can hide all the icons on your desktop and use only the taskbar or the Start menu to open them. There are two more ways you can open apps and documents without clicking any icons.

Cortana (by voice)

Cortana is Microsoft’s digital voice assistant. If you don’t want to deal with any icons, you can ask Cortana to launch the apps and open files you are looking for. Just ask: “Hey, Cortana. Find document,” and say the document name.

If you want to open an app, say “ Launch (program name).

You may need to activate Cortana on your computer before you can carry out any of these commands. But if you are a fan of Alexa or Siri, this might be the best way for you to access programs and documents while keeping your desktop clean.

If you want more information on what Cortana can do, click here.

Third-Party apps (by search)

Clear Desktop Clutter Wox Launcher

Pinning apps to the taskbar or Start menu is handy, but if you have a large number of items displayed in those places, they can become a mess, just like your desktop did. Avoid the clutter by installing a third-party app launcher like WoX or Keybreeze. These programs can be opened with a short keystroke combination like Alt + Space. Then type in the name of the program and select the item you want to open.

You should make it a habit not to add shortcuts, files and folders to the Desktop. You can create a weekly or monthly reminder to clear your desktop – move folders and files to your documents, delete what you don’t need and move shortcuts to the Start menu or taskbar.

To further improve your productivity, you can make use of these keyboard shortcuts to work faster in Windows 10 and also add more functionality with PowerToys.

Tracey Rosenberger
Tracey Rosenberger

Tracey Rosenberger spent 26 years teaching elementary students, using technology to enhance learning. Now she's excited to share helpful technology with teachers and everyone else who sees tech as intimidating.

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