Using the Desktop…why?

Messy Desktop

If you wonder why this article starts with a screenshot of a windows desktop, it’s because almost every PC I ever had to fix looks like this. And I wonder what genius ever got the idea of using the background as a desktop (according to Wikipedia, it’s Commodore. Curse them).

Just look at it. It’s just a bunch of maps, files, and application launchers thrown together in no particular order. Desktops get messy. It’s what they do. At least this person made some effort by lining up the icons…I know many who don’t. Supposedly, files on the desktop are easier to find, but that cannot possibly be the case here. If I had a choice between this and a nice, alphabetic list, I know what I’d choose.

There’s another problem with using the desktop as a place where you store files: every time you open a program (as computer users tend to do sometimes), you hide them all. I guess that’s why the “Show Desktop” function was invented…so you can open even more windows, which will instantly hide your icons again.

Applications are guilty of this too. Almost every Windows program will add a launcher on the desktop by default. And in your QuickLaunch bar. And in the menu. Don’t forget the systray icon, and the “launch program at startup option”.
Windows applications tend to crap all over your desktop.

In Openbox, I’d need an extra program just to add icons to the desktop, but I don’t. I don’t have a “QuickLaunch bar” either. Why should I? I have the menu, and maybe ten keyboard combinations that open my favorite applications. I have a panel at the bottom, but I noticed I don’t use it to navigate between my open windows…it’s only there so I know what applications I’ve already opened. I have conky at the top, so I know how much work my processors have to do, how bandwidth I’m wasting, what song I’m playing…that kind of thing. It’s all I need, and it’s not intrusive.
I reach my files the way they’re supposed to be reached…with the file manager. Every new file goes to a “download” map first, and then to the appropriate map on a separate partition. I never have any trouble finding a file.

And that way, I can actually enjoy the pretty picture I have as my background.


7 Responses to Using the Desktop…why?

  1. Chris says:

    This article is the reason why I read your blog. I would have to say that I have been in many an office where someone had a desktop like this. (most of the time their real desktop was no better) It is no way to work or play for that matter.

  2. celettu says:


    thanks for the nice words. I guess messy people are messy everywhere, virtually or not. I like things tidy.

  3. jorge says:

    “almost every PC I ever had to fix looks like this”
    Ha, I had to laugh at this, you could not have worded that better. A desktop like that screams “I HAVE MALWARE, fix me, fix me… reformat me.”

  4. chi says:

    my windows desktop started looking like that. i ended up using the desktop as a temporary dumping space, but never got around to cleaning it up. then i switched to linux and forced myself to adopt a more structured file hierarchy.

  5. Cyrusm says:

    back in my windows days I used to hate having to delete every Icon that “automatically appeared for my convenience” with Fluxbox I have everything either mapped to hotkeys or I just type the name at the console. I don’t even use the menu feature anymore. and any file manipulation that needs to be done, can also be done from the console. also, with aterm running transparent. my terminal is right on the desktop, so I’m still enjoying my beautiful wallpapers.

  6. ryanchadwick says:

    What I also find interesting is that the users who own these desktops also tend to be the ones that also proclaim that computers are so hard and confusing to use. Yet they are largely responsible for creating their own problem and don’t seek out ways to rectify it.

    I’ve often wondered about ways in which we could design desktops to guide and encourage users to better organisation and simplicity.

  7. Autotractari says:

    Trebuie sa recunosc ca ai un site bine facut si articole de interes, si nu ma refer doar la articolul de fata.

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