11/18/2011

Ten free tools to better organize your desktop icons

10 ways to organize your desktop
Studies have found that people with cleaner, tidier desktops live longer. I am joking of course, but ask yourself this: is your desktop too crowded with icons? Do you ever wish for a little bit more room just to fit in a few more files? Are there files and folders doing nothing that were put there weeks ago?
If so, then this post is for you. It will present 10 free tools that can help you better organize your desktop, or at least breathe some new life into it. Some of these tools will require that you only shuffle your icons around your desktop for a better, more organized layout, while others assume that you move your icons to folders first.
Part one: tools that do you can use without moving your icons off the desktop into folders
  1. Fences: sort your icons within floating containers on the desktop
  2. SE-DesktopConstructor: map out ‘zones’ inside your wallpaper to help organize your icons
Part two: tools that can display your icons on the desktop once they are organized into folders. They also offer some drag and drop interactivity with Windows explorer.
  1. Dexpot: create separate virtual desktops for each category of icons
  2. Nimi Places: display the contents of folders in containers on the desktop
  3. SideSlide: display the contents of folders inside a scrolling window
  4. Stick: display the contents of folders as retractable tabs on the sides of your screen
  5. Launchbar Commander: a floating, cascading menu that can browse your folders
  6. FSL Launcher: tabbed launcher that can be linked to your folders
Part three: tools that can be useful to desktop icon management
  1. DekstopOK: save and restore your desktop icon layouts
  2. Diswy: show and hide desktop icons with a single click

The problem:
a busy, cluttered desktop (see image below).

cluttered desktop screenshot
This is a meant to be a typical desktop containing all manner of icons: files, shortcuts, media files, installers, etc. There is some attempt at organization; the different categories of icons are clustered together in clumps (hitherto referred to as categories), which we also believe is typical for most users.

The solution:

Part one: tools that do you can use without moving your icons off the desktop into folders

1. Fences: sort your icons within floating containers on the desktop

Fences screenshot1
PROS: CONS:
  • Your icons can stay where they are, on the desktop, no need to move them into folders
  • Can auto-organize your icons for you, has container ‘templates’ of sorts
  • Container may display only partial contents; scroll down to see the rest using a scrollbar to the right.
  • Some might argue that Fences is merely prettier-looking clutter.
  • Your icons stay on the desktop, which may be less preferable than actually putting them away somewhere in folders from an organizational point of view.
Overall rating for Fences:  9/10

2. SE-DesktopConstructor: map out ‘zones’ inside your wallpaper to help organize your icons

This program simply modifies the wallpaper image to embed user-defined zones within them, that correspond to where you want your icons to be. Users can edit or change these at any time; the program does not do much more than that.
SE Desktop Constructor
PROS: CONS:
  • Low-tech solution; nothing actually changes on your desktop in terms of the way you work with icons.
  • Simply affirms the way most people work with desktop icons (clumping them together on certain areas of the screen), but gives it a more elegant feel.
  • Can display different wallpapers at intervals. Simply put your wallpaper images in the designated folder (if you don’t want different wallpaper images, just put the one in the folder).
  • Can be strangely labor intensive to set up at first (although it is easy to maintain once the initial setup is done).
  • The ‘Fences’ criticisms also apply: the clutter is still there on the desktop, but more organized, and organizationally it might be better to move icons to folders.
Overall rating for SE-DesktopConstructor: 8/10

Part two: tools that require moving your icons into folders first

We assume that the whole point of keeping icons on the desktop (as opposed to moving them to folders) is to keep them within sight at all times. Thus, if it is possible for a tool to do both (move them into folders AND keep them in sight) then we considered it eligible for mention in this article.
These programs have one thing in common: they must link directly to your Windows folders, which means that any change in the folder is reflected instantly in the program itself. (As opposed to your normal launcher, where individual files or folders are merely added to the launcher).
Once you sort your desktop icons to folders, you can either keep these on the desktop or move them elsewhere, and you can either keep displaying desktop icons or opt to not display them altogether. In the screenshots below we kept the newly created folders on the desktop and opted to not display icons on the desktop at all.

3. Dexpot: create separate virtual desktops, each with it’s own collection of icons

If your icons are crowding out a single desktop, why not use many? Dexpot is a free virtual desktop app that supports multiple desktops, and is the only one as far as I know to support organizing icons into separate desktops, rather than just windows and applications.
Dexpot Screenshot1
Dexpot creates a new folder for each new virtual desktop you create (‘Desktop 2’, ‘Desktop 3’, etc, which it places in C:\Users\*username* by default). Thus all you need to do is sort your icons into the new folders to move them to the respective desktops (there is another way to do it from within the Dexpot interface; right click tray icon/desktop windows/icon tab, but it is very cumbersome).
SendToSendTo exampleIt is also possible to add the different desktops to the ‘send to’ context menu in Windows using a program like SendToSendTo or Send To Toys (see screenshot to the right),  note that you would need to use ‘shift’ in conjunction with the send to entry to move your files across folders.
  • Requires moving your icons into folders: yes.
  • Links to folders: yes, any change in the folder is reflected instantly in the virtual desktop and vice versa.
  • Can move icons from one desktop to another: yes, by moving from one desktop folder to another, or via the send to menu as illustrated above.
PROS: CONS:
  • A ‘thinking out of the box solution that can work really well.
  • Why it is not easier to move icons from one desktop to another is a mystery to me. Tweaking the ‘Send To’ menu as mentioned above can work, but it would have been preferable if Dexpot itself installed context menu or ‘Send To’ entries to move items across desktops.
Overall rating for Dexpot: 9/10

4. Nimi Places: display the contents of folders in containers on the desktop

Once you move your icons into folders that make sense to you, you can display the contents of these folders on the desktop at all times much in the same way as ‘Fences’ above.
Nimi Places Screenshot
  • Requires moving your icons into folders: yes, if you want to organize your icons into different containers.
  • Links to folders: yes, any change in the folder is reflected instantly in the Nimi places containers and vice versa.
  • Can move icons from one container to another: No, but interestingly you can cut and paste from one container to another.
  • Can move icons from the desktop to the container: No, but cut and paste works.
  • Can move icons from the container to the desktop: No, but cut and paste works.
PROS: CONS:
  • A good solution if you like the ‘Fences’ look but like to sort your icons into folders
  • Has good options for icons sizes and display styles (including a dock-style container). You can also download lots of additional themes.
  • No drag and drop support for items from one container to another or the desktop, although strangely enough copying and pasting works, which can provide a solution of sorts.
  • The program feels unfinished; NEVER use  the right click context menus on folders as it strangely actually MOVES your folders into the Nimi Folders folder (as opposed to creating a desktop container for you). Also, hovering on folders inside the Nimi Places window displays an annoying tooltip bar chart that strangely cannot be switched off.
Overall rating for Nimi Places: 7/10

5. SideSlide: display the contents of folders inside a scrolling window

SideSlide Screenshot 3
SideSlide offers a sliding interface that appears when you mouse over the top edge of your screen and can house RSS feeds, shortcuts, and all sorts of objects. For the purposes of desktop organization, we removed all objects, moved the desktop icons into folders on the hard drive, and than link to those folders within SideSlide.
  • Requires moving your icons into folders: yes, if you want to organize your icons into different containers.
  • Links to folders: yes, but any change in the folder is only reflected in the SideSlide container if you refresh it manually.
  • Can move icons from one container to another: No, dragging and dropping COPIES items from one folder/container to another. Cutting and pasting is not an option.
  • Can move icons from the desktop to the container: No, dragging and dropping COPIES items from the desktop to the container (and the folder it is linked to). Cutting and pasting doesn’t work either.
  • Can move icons from the container to the desktop: Yes.
PROS: CONS:
  • Very original concept, a ‘desktop’ delivered on demand when you mouse over the top side of your screen.
  • Dragging and dropping icons across different containers and the desktop is strange and unintuitive.
  • Need to keep refreshing the containers to be sure they reflect your folders accurately.
  • Right click on icons does NOT display the Windows explorer context menu
  • Is prone to the occasional error that crashes the program.
Overall rating for SideSlide: 6/10

6. Stick: display the contents of folders as retractable tabs on the sides of your screen

Stick can add tabs to the side of your screen that can display RSS feeds and notes and provide other functions. For our purposes here we are only using the program’s ability to link tabs to folders.
Stick Screenshot3
  • Requires moving your icons into folders: yes, if you want to organize your icons into different containers.
  • Links to folders: yes, any change in the folder is reflected instantly in the Nimi places containers and vice versa.
  • Can move icons from one container to another: Yes
  • Can move icons from the desktop to the container: Yes.
  • Can move icons from the container to the desktop: Yes.
PROS: CONS:
  • A novel idea that keep your icons out of sight and produce them quickly on demand.
  • You can move icons from one tab to another or from Windows explorer by dragging and dropping.
  • Has some nice display options (any of the sides of the screen), hotkey options, etc.
  • Can sometimes ‘forget’ which tabs are connected to which folders. In this case, right click ‘Explorer properties’ and make sure that the correct path is entered in the ‘URL/Folder’ field.
  • The project is no longer supported by the developers, which is sad.
Overall rating for Stick: 8/10

7. Launchbar Commander: a floating, cascading menu that can browse your folders

If you opt to move your desktop icons to a folder and want a quick way to navigate their contents visually via floating, cascading menus, Launchbar commander is for you.
LaunchBar Commander Screenshot3
  • Requires moving your icons into folders: yes, if you want to organize your icons into different categories.
  • Links to folders: yes, any change in the folder is reflected instantly in the Launchbar Commander menus..
  • Can move icons from one container to another: No.
  • Can move icons from the desktop to the floating menu icons: No.
  • Can move icons from the floating menu to the desktop: No.
PROS: CONS:
  • Has some good options customizing and tweaking the floating launcher’s look and feel (docking behavior, etc).
  • Cannot keep your icons from different categories displayed at all times (which is what you would have if they were on the desktop).
  • Dragging and dropping icons across different folders and/or the desktop is not possible within the program itself.
  • Navigating the settings is quite cumbersome, at least at first.
Overall rating for Launchbar Commander: 6/10

8. FSL Launcher: tabbed launcher that can be linked to your folders

Linking this launcher to your folders is not built into the program but is possible via the use of symbolic links (which is a feature of Windows that enables a folder to be in more than one place at the same time). I used a freeware called ‘Link Shell Extension’ to create symbolic link clones of my four folders in the launcher’s groups (in C:\Users\*username*\FSL\Launcher\Shortcuts).
FSL Launcher Screenshot3
  • Requires moving your icons into folders: yes, if you want to organize your icons into different containers. You also need to create symbolic links clones as mentioned above.
  • Links to folders: yes, any change in the folder is reflected in the FSL launcher tab; however, you will need to either refresh the tab or leave it and return again to see the change.
  • Can move icons from one tab to another: No. Moving an item copies a shortcut to it to the other tab.
  • Can move icons from the desktop to the tab: No, it makes copies of them if run as Administrator.
  • Can move icons from the tab to the desktop: No, it makes copies of them.
PROS: CONS:
  • If you must have a tabbed launcher that links to folders, this could provide an adequate solution.
  • Drag and drop operations across tabs and Windows explorer are lacking.
  • Missing icons: objects in the launcher are frequently displayed as blank icons. Selecting the objects makes the objects appear, but it is not really a good solution.
Overall rating for FSL Launcher : 6/10 (the app was simply not designed to be used in this way, unfortunately).

Part three: tools that can be useful to desktop icon management

The tools below can help you quickly manage your icons, although they do not offer any new ways of displaying and/or working with them.

9. DekstopOK: save and restore your desktop icon layouts


So you’ve got tons of icons on your desktop which keep arranged ‘just so’, in patterns that you are used to or that make sense to you, but then something happens and your icons are all messed up (say, an unexpected change in resolution brought about by a game or program, a remote desktop session that might scramble icons, or whatever).
Wouldn’t it be great if you could save your icon layouts and restore them at will? Wouldn’t it be great if you could have an icon layout(s) associated with each screen resolution? Wouldn’t it be great if a program could auto save your icon layouts periodically in case of an unexpected event? Yes it would, and that program is called DestkopOK, works great, and has a light footrprint to boot.
I’ve reviewed a number of these ‘icon layout saving’ apps over the years, and this one is my favorite (even as some others offer a saving via right-click context menu entry feature, which I like.)

10. Diswy: show and hide desktop icons with a single click


If you want a decluttered desktop in a single click, or if you are planning to use many of the tools mentioned above, you will appreciate the ability to hide and show desktop icons quickly (without having to right click and check/uncheck ‘show desktop icons’).
Diswy can be placed in the taskbar and does a great job. You could also check out a similar program called HideDesktopIcons if you like. (Also note that Fences, if you are using it, does this by double clicking on the desktop).

That’s it for this installment of tools.  Note that I did not feature any Mac-like Docs or circular docks because I wanted the programs not just to display icons, but to (a) offer some sort of drag and drop interactivity, and (b) be able to display many of the containers at once (although I know that both Launchbar Commander and FSL Launcher do not necessarily meet all of these criteria).
[Thanks go to Alla K for creating the screenshots above.]
Do you use a free tool that can help manage, display or keep desktop icons organized that wasn’t mentioned above? Let us know in the comments section below.

0 komentar:

Posting Komentar

Mohon gunakan kata-kata yang sopan dalam memberikan komentar.
Komentar SPAM, SARA dan sejenisnya tidak akan di tampilkan.